$0.02: Judgment to come from baseball’s Hall voters
The lack of probing by suspicious baseball writers had as much to do with the Steroids Era as anything else. That’s what many in the know have said, as blame for baseball’s widespread, unchecked performance-enhancing drug problem gets tossed around the sport in the wake of the Mitchell Report.In a way, you can see the point. Had beat writers been as dogged in uncovering drug cheats as they are in finding that story-making stat, maybe we’d have heard of all this sooner. But you can also argue that they’re overworked enough as it is, and there was no guarantee they’d have gotten anyone to talk on the record, anyway – and, most likely, they’d have lost all their rapport in the locker room if they tried.Funny how things have a way of arriving full circle. Come Hall of Fame time, the folks most responsible for enshrining – or not – the Steroids Era players will be the same writers who failed to unearth their supposed cheating during their careers. People talk about the court of public opinion. About how it’s not fair for some players to be implicated while others roam free, simply due to the fact that certain drug sources have talked and others haven’t. Well, 50 years down the road nobody will remember that also-ran players like F.P. Santangelo were linked to steroids. What they will remember, though, are names like Bonds and Clemens and McGwire and Sosa. The numbers dictate that. And their role in the history of America’s Pastime is now at stake. Hall of Fame induction portends baseball immortality, even cultural immortality in some cases.I don’t care a lick what kind of player Bonds was before he juiced. Or how dominant a pitcher Clemens was. They should’ve been satisfied with that. Since they weren’t, they should have to pay for their greed. They can argue with the Mitchell Report’s findings all they want. They can call foul. They can have their lawyers whine about an unjustly tarnished reputation. But they cannot fill out a baseball writer’s Hall of Fame ballot. And that, in my mind, is the only comforting certainty in this whole, great mess. …By the way, steroids have been banned in baseball since 1991, even if there wasn’t always testing. So anyone who did steroids from then on broke the rules and cheated. But it was up to the commissioner’s office to determine which drugs were illegal, and since human growth hormone was not illegal when Andy Pettitte (among others) did it, I don’t understand why there is such furor over his using it. Tell us the rules and then it’s our responsibility to follow them. If you didn’t do your job of determining which rules should be rules – and I’m talking about the commissioner here – then that’s your problem. …Remember when we thought everyone was hitting all those home runs because the BALL was juiced? …If 14-0 New England beats 1-13 Miami next week, we’ll talk perfection on many levels in this column. Until then, I give you the Boston Globe’s deliciously simple story lead on the Patriots’ win over the Jets on Sunday: “Next.” …Stat of the Week, Part 1: 24 of 30 NHL teams are at or above .500 right now. …The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency lost its first-ever case in arbitration hearings last week, dropping its record to 36-1 (a mark that includes a victory in the infamous Floyd Landis case). Sprinter LaTasha Jenkins was the streak-breaker, as her working-for-free legal team of a Valparaiso law professor and four Valpo students convinced the three-person judging panel that Jenkins’ test sample was mishandled by two European labs. …Stat of the Week, Part 2: Memphis big man Joey Dorsey leads Division 1 college basketball in field goal percentage, having made a remarkable 91.3 percent of his shots (21 of 23). The funny part is he’s only made 28.6 percent of his free throws (4 of 14). …Michigan hired Rich Rodriguez away from West Virginia the other day to take over for Lloyd Carr. By all appearances, it’s a good move; Rodriguez will probably do well at Michigan. But let’s not forget that he was the Wolverines’ third choice for this job. First, Les Miles elected to stay at LSU. Then Rutgers coach Greg Schiano made a similar decision, choosing to continue steering the ship he’d built in New Jersey. Which begs the question: When a coach turns down Michigan for Rutgers, is the apocalypse getting near? …In parting, with regard to the widespread jump-and-bump celebration we see on football fields everywhere – two guys leap in the air and collide, usually with their shoulders or backs, before jogging away a little bit cooler – it’s all fun and games until someone dislocates an ankle.Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs on Tuesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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