barry

The Baseball Writers of America are set to announce their Baseball Hall of Fame entrants for 2017. I suspect a few players will get in and there will be a few notable yet deserving players who are snubbed. Barry Bonds and Roger ns need to be inducted into Cooperstown yesterday and here’s why.

When I think about any major sports hall of fame I think of the greatest players who ever played their respective game. I think that any player who was for a short period of time the greatest of their generations and had a sustainable and statistically significant career belongs in these shrines. The memories and legacies of these players is what makes the history of any sport so interesting.

While the vast majority of NHL, NFL and NBA’s top players are all in their respective shrines, Major League Baseball cannot say the same. Out of the big 4, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame draws the most controversy and stirs up endless debate.

As I grew up through the 90’s and fell in love with baseball my favourite hitters were Blue Jays Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado and other MLB stars like Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Manny Ramirez, Moses Alou, and Frank Thomas. Since those days it’s come out that at least half of those players were caught for using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s).

I don’t feel like my nostalgic memories are tainted because of this but many in baseball’s circles have tried to blackball both busted and suspected PED users from the Hall of Fame. Since the end of the “Steroid Era” many of those prolific stars have earned Hall of Fame eligibility and have created a backlog on the annual Baseball Writers of America ballot.

Retired Major League players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they played in 10 or more seasons and have been retired for 5 years. If a player is ever selected on less than 5% of total voters ballots then they fall off the Cooperstown ballot forever. However, if they receive 5% or higher then they will remain on the ballot for up to 10 years until they are either voted in or fail to meet eligibility. Writers who are given a ballot can vote for up to 10 players each year, but only players whom receive 75% or more votes are allowed into the Hall.

Many former sluggers and pitchers in addition to Bonds and Clemens have essentially been blacklisted regardless of their career accolades or statistical merit. Baseball writers are allowed to vote whatever way they choose and often quote a morality clause within the voting guidelines to keep players out who may deserve recognition of their legacy.

Former star and manager Pete Rose received a lifetime ban under this morality clause. Rose holds the MLB record for most career hits, but is never to be allowed into the Hall because he bet on multiple baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds in 1987. It was never determined if he bet on his own team or not but MLB has specific rules in place due the 1919 Black Sox scandal, whom threw a World Series as part of a gambling scandal.

Today’s issue however isn’t as cut and dry.

Use of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League level wasn’t banned until 1991 and during the height of the Steroid Era in the mid to late 1990’s, players weren’t even allowed to be tested! It wasn’t until 2003 and the infamous BALCO scandal that MLBPA players could even be tested for PED’s. The old adage, “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying” is the reality of baseball during the 1990’s and steroids were rampant during the long ball’s hey day.

In addition to likely using PED’s, Barry Bonds was seen as an asshole by team mates, fans and media. Jeff Pearlman wrote a great book – “Love Me, Hate Me” – that was published in 2006 about the life of Barry Bonds. The book covers Barry Bonds privileged childhood through his young and senior playing days. Barry was not liked by many people. He was a social misfit and a conceited prick; ironically, the same media are the ones who control his Hall of Fame prospects.

Barry played in 21 MLB seasons and hit 762 Home Runs and walked 2558 times, which are both records. The stat that always jumped out to me is that Barry Bonds is the only player to steal more than 500 bases and hit over 500 Home Runs. There’s nobody even close to anything like that. Another great stat is that he was intentionally walked 688 times in his career! Even better is that Bonds was intentionally walked once with the bases loaded. He was that feared and deservedly so.

Here’s a fraction of Barry Bonds’ major accomplishments:

7 Time NL MVP

14-time All-Star

8 time NL Gold Glover

12 time NL Silver Slugger

14 times he hit 30+ Home Run in a Season

On the other side of the mound is The Rocket, Roger Clemens, who played over 22 years in the Majors. During The Rocket’s run of dominance he put up equally impressive stats and accomplishments to those of Barry Bonds.

Here’s a fraction of Roger Clemons’ major accomplishments:

11 time All-Star

7 time Cy Young Winner

2 time World Series Champion

1986 AL-MVP winner

5 times led league in Strike Outs

3 times led the League in WHIP

7 times led the League in ERA

These stats on both fronts are unbelievable and likely will not be touched again by any other future generation.

Hitting a baseball is hard. It’s actually really hard. A 91 MPH pitch takes about 0.4 seconds to reach home plate once it is released from a pitcher’s hand. Yet, it takes about 0.25 seconds for a player to be able to pick the ball up with their eyes and react, which leaves 0.15 seconds to make a decision whether to swing or not and make any necessary mechanical adjustments to hit the ball.

Throwing a baseball really fast is also hard. Doing it with pinpoint accuracy and some movement is even harder. Doing it over 100 times every 5 days year after year is just not natural or healthy. Needless to say, steroids alone cannot make any nobody a great hitter or pitcher as they don’t increase your eye’s reaction time or aid in a pitching delivery’s accuracy.

Steroids and performance enhancing drugs do however help increases an athletes muscle strength and subsequently their body size and probably most importantly their body’s healing capabilities. So when Barry Bonds went from an all-star and five tool player to a home run behemoth not seen since Babe Ruth in his mid 30’s. So no shit something was probably up.

When most athletes bodies begin to break down in their mid 30’s, Bond and Clemens seemed to actually get better. They were stronger and bigger players then they were in their 20’s. However, these guys weren’t alone as over 100 players were named in the famous Mitchel Report about steroid use in baseball. There were probably even more players not implicated and 100’s more who didn’t even crack the Major’s who were using.

Physicist Roger Tobin of Tufts University in Boston once said steroids could help batters hit 50 percent more home runs by boosting their muscle mass by just 10 percent. He also said 10 percent more muscle mass would help a batter swing about 5 percent faster, increasing the ball’s speed by 4 percent as it leaves the bat. “A 4 percent increase in ball speed, which can reasonably be expected from steroid use, can increase home run production by anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent,” Tobin said.

So what does this all mean? It’s believed that Bonds and Clemens began using PED’s somewhere in the mid 90’s. By that time both players had already established themselves as MLB all-stars and likely future hall of famers. Barry Bonds recorded a 73.7 WAR in the first 10 years of his career and Roger Clemens recorded a 65.5 WAR in his first 10 seasons.

Yet Ken Griffey Jr. put up a WAR of 65.6 during his first 10 years (the same era) and received the highest ever vote for a first year eligible Hall of Famer with 99.3%. The fact that a couple of salty pricks felt like Griffey should have to wait to get in to the Hall is part of the problem with the Hall but I digress.

If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have retired before their statistical peaks in the mid 90’s they would likely have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, the next 10+ years of each of their careers were mired by as much controversy as success/accolades. Bonds went on to shatter several records and most famously the single season and career Home Run Records. Clemens went on to win a couple of World Series and four more Cy Young awards.

The Steroid Era happened and it’s because Major League baseball let it happen. When the owners locked their players out and canceled the 1994 season mid way through and all of 1995, the Steroid Era saved the game. Former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig let it happen because it was best for business.

Former manager and Hall of Fame inductee Tony La Russa had to have known his players were juicing as he managed the Oakland Athletics and the “Bash Brothers”, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, and then again managed McGwire during the era’s peak in St. Louis. Why are these men absolved when they likely played a role in letting steroids into the summer game.

Nike once had a famous commercial featuring Mark McGwire and Cy Young winners, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. The premise of the commercial was “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” and the pitchers were jealous that McGwire was getting so much attention just for taking batting practice. The pitchers decided to buff up and learn how to hit BP home runs in order to get some female attention.

This commercial pretty much epitomizes the Steroid Era in 30 seconds.

I’ve never been to Cooperstown and quite frankly probably wouldn’t want to unless Major League Baseball acknowledges this era of the game and some of the greatest players who ever stepped onto a diamond. Ty Cobb, a racist asshole who once stabbed a man, is allowed in the Hall and many other fringe players from the dead ball era as well.

What gives?

A Sports Hall of Fame should tell fans of its respective game about the history and stars of yesterday. But two of the best eight players to have ever played baseball are nowhere to be found in there.

When I have children one day I will tell them about the stars of yesterday that I grew up watching. Those stars will include former PED users because the game was littered with them.

I will also make a point to tell my future children that this was a dark time for the game and use it as an educational experience about the dangers of PED’s and that these players likely didn’t even need them to be stars. The Baseball Hall of Fame look to do the same and acknowledge the games ugly past.

No asterisks are needed for Bonds or Clemens but a section dedicated to the issues of the Steroid Era, health education and to these players for their dominance to the game is long overdue.

The Baseball Writers of America are set to announce their Baseball Hall of Fame entrants for 2017. I suspect a few players will get in and there will be a few notable yet deserving players who are snubbed. Barry Bonds and Roger ns need to be inducted into Cooperstown yesterday and here’s why.

When I think about any major sports hall of fame I think of the greatest players who ever played their respective game. I think that any player who was for a short period of time the greatest of their generations and had a sustainable and statistically significant career belongs in these shrines. The memories and legacies of these players is what makes the history of any sport so interesting.

While the vast majority of NHL, NFL and NBA’s top players are all in their respective shrines, Major League Baseball cannot say the same. Out of the big 4, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame draws the most controversy and stirs up endless debate.

As I grew up through the 90’s and fell in love with baseball my favourite hitters were Blue Jays Roberto Alomar, Joe Carter, Carlos Delgado and other MLB stars like Ken Griffey Jr., Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, Manny Ramirez, Moses Alou, and Frank Thomas. Since those days it’s come out that at least half of those players were caught for using Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s).

I don’t feel like my nostalgic memories are tainted because of this but many in baseball’s circles have tried to blackball both busted and suspected PED users from the Hall of Fame. Since the end of the “Steroid Era” many of those prolific stars have earned Hall of Fame eligibility and have created a backlog on the annual Baseball Writers of America ballot.

Retired Major League players are eligible for the Hall of Fame if they played in 10 or more seasons and have been retired for 5 years. If a player is ever selected on less than 5% of total voters ballots then they fall off the Cooperstown ballot forever. However, if they receive 5% or higher then they will remain on the ballot for up to 10 years until they are either voted in or fail to meet eligibility. Writers who are given a ballot can vote for up to 10 players each year, but only players whom receive 75% or more votes are allowed into the Hall.

Many former sluggers and pitchers in addition to Bonds and Clemens have essentially been blacklisted regardless of their career accolades or statistical merit. Baseball writers are allowed to vote whatever way they choose and often quote a morality clause within the voting guidelines to keep players out who may deserve recognition of their legacy.

Former star and manager Pete Rose received a lifetime ban under this morality clause. Rose holds the MLB record for most career hits, but is never to be allowed into the Hall because he bet on multiple baseball games while managing the Cincinnati Reds in 1987. It was never determined if he bet on his own team or not but MLB has specific rules in place due the 1919 Black Sox scandal, whom threw a World Series as part of a gambling scandal.

Today’s issue however isn’t as cut and dry.

Use of performance enhancing drugs at the Major League level wasn’t banned until 1991 and during the height of the Steroid Era in the mid to late 1990’s, players weren’t even allowed to be tested! It wasn’t until 2003 and the infamous BALCO scandal that MLBPA players could even be tested for PED’s. The old adage, “If you aren’t cheating, you aren’t trying” is the reality of baseball during the 1990’s and steroids were rampant during the long ball’s hey day.

In addition to likely using PED’s, Barry Bonds was seen as an asshole by team mates, fans and media. Jeff Pearlman wrote a great book – “Love Me, Hate Me” – that was published in 2006 about the life of Barry Bonds. The book covers Barry Bonds privileged childhood through his young and senior playing days. Barry was not liked by many people. He was a social misfit and a conceited prick; ironically, the same media are the ones who control his Hall of Fame prospects.

Barry played in 21 MLB seasons and hit 762 Home Runs and walked 2558 times, which are both records. The stat that always jumped out to me is that Barry Bonds is the only player to steal more than 500 bases and hit over 500 Home Runs. There’s nobody even close to anything like that. Another great stat is that he was intentionally walked 688 times in his career! Even better is that Bonds was intentionally walked once with the bases loaded. He was that feared and deservedly so.

Here’s a fraction of Barry Bonds’ major accomplishments:

7 Time NL MVP

14-time All-Star

8 time NL Gold Glover

12 time NL Silver Slugger

14 times he hit 30+ Home Run in a Season

On the other side of the mound is The Rocket, Roger Clemens, who played over 22 years in the Majors. During The Rocket’s run of dominance he put up equally impressive stats and accomplishments to those of Barry Bonds.

Here’s a fraction of Roger Clemons’ major accomplishments:

11 time All-Star

7 time Cy Young Winner

2 time World Series Champion

1986 AL-MVP winner

5 times led league in Strike Outs

3 times led the League in WHIP

7 times led the League in ERA

These stats on both fronts are unbelievable and likely will not be touched again by any other future generation.

Hitting a baseball is hard. It’s actually really hard. A 91 MPH pitch takes about 0.4 seconds to reach home plate once it is released from a pitcher’s hand. Yet, it takes about 0.25 seconds for a player to be able to pick the ball up with their eyes and react, which leaves 0.15 seconds to make a decision whether to swing or not and make any necessary mechanical adjustments to hit the ball.

Throwing a baseball really fast is also hard. Doing it with pinpoint accuracy and some movement is even harder. Doing it over 100 times every 5 days year after year is just not natural or healthy. Needless to say, steroids alone cannot make any nobody a great hitter or pitcher as they don’t increase your eye’s reaction time or aid in a pitching delivery’s accuracy.

Steroids and performance enhancing drugs do however help increases an athletes muscle strength and subsequently their body size and probably most importantly their body’s healing capabilities. So when Barry Bonds went from an all-star and five tool player to a home run behemoth not seen since Babe Ruth in his mid 30’s. So no shit something was probably up.

When most athletes bodies begin to break down in their mid 30’s, Bond and Clemens seemed to actually get better. They were stronger and bigger players then they were in their 20’s. However, these guys weren’t alone as over 100 players were named in the famous Mitchel Report about steroid use in baseball. There were probably even more players not implicated and 100’s more who didn’t even crack the Major’s who were using.

Physicist Roger Tobin of Tufts University in Boston once said steroids could help batters hit 50 percent more home runs by boosting their muscle mass by just 10 percent. He also said 10 percent more muscle mass would help a batter swing about 5 percent faster, increasing the ball’s speed by 4 percent as it leaves the bat. “A 4 percent increase in ball speed, which can reasonably be expected from steroid use, can increase home run production by anywhere from 50 percent to 100 percent,” Tobin said.

So what does this all mean? It’s believed that Bonds and Clemens began using PED’s somewhere in the mid 90’s. By that time both players had already established themselves as MLB all-stars and likely future hall of famers. Barry Bonds recorded a 73.7 WAR in the first 10 years of his career and Roger Clemens recorded a 65.5 WAR in his first 10 seasons.

Yet Ken Griffey Jr. put up a WAR of 65.6 during his first 10 years (the same era) and received the highest ever vote for a first year eligible Hall of Famer with 99.3%. The fact that a couple of salty pricks felt like Griffey should have to wait to get in to the Hall is part of the problem with the Hall but I digress.If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have retired before their statistical peaks in the mid 90’s they would likely have already been inducted into the Hall of Fame. However, the next 10+ years of each of their careers were mired by as much controversy as success/accolades. Bonds went on to shatter several records and most famously the single season and career Home Run Records. Clemens went on to win a couple of World Series and four more Cy Young awards.

The Steroid Era happened and it’s because Major League baseball let it happen. When the owners locked their players out and canceled the 1994 season mid way through and all of 1995, the Steroid Era saved the game. Former Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig let it happen because it was best for business.

Former manager and Hall of Fame inductee Tony La Russa had to have known his players were juicing as he managed the Oakland Athletics and the “Bash Brothers”, Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, and then again managed McGwire during the era’s peak in St. Louis. Why are these men absolved when they likely played a role in letting steroids into the summer game.

Nike once had a famous commercial featuring Mark McGwire and Cy Young winners, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. The premise of the commercial was “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” and the pitchers were jealous that McGwire was getting so much attention just for taking batting practice. The pitchers decided to buff up and learn how to hit BP home runs in order to get some female attention. This commercial pretty much epitomizes the Steroid Era in 30 seconds.

I’ve never been to Cooperstown and quite frankly probably wouldn’t want to unless Major League Baseball acknowledges this era of the game and some of the greatest players who ever stepped onto a diamond. Ty Cobb, a racist asshole who once stabbed a man, is allowed in the Hall and many other fringe players from the dead ball era as well.

What gives?

A Sports Hall of Fame should tell fans of its respective game about the history and stars of yesterday. But two of the best eight players to have ever played baseball are nowhere to be found in there’s.

When I have children one day I will tell them about the stars of yesterday that I grew up watching. Those stars will include former PED users because the game was littered with them.

I will also make a point to tell my future children that this was a dark time for the game and use it as an educational experience about the dangers of PED’s and that these players likely didn’t even need them to be stars. The Baseball Hall of Fame look to do the same and acknowledge the games ugly past.

No asterisks are needed for Bonds or Clemens but a section dedicated to the issues of the Steroid Era, health education and to these players for their dominance to the game is long overdue.