Sunday, January 9, 2011

Jeff Bagwell, Fall Guy

I'm probably going to exceed my metaphor quota in this post, but it's starting to look like what Bud Selig and Donald Fehr did in the late 90s through 2007 is something that we have not yet seen all the implications. Like the BP oil spill, this is something that isn't going to be cleaned up for a long time.

And while he's certainly not the first one, Jeff Bagwell is theoretically one of the pelicans covered in oil and not getting what he deserves.

First of all, don't think I have my head in the sand here. I don't think any contact hitting minor leaguers turn into guys hitting 50 home runs a year just through a lot of weightlifting and a chance to Enron Field. Though it probably helps. I think a lot of guys who have never been implicated, including Bagwell, Luis Gonzalez, and Nomar Garciaparra used, and it's my right to judge. This was Tony Massarotti's argument on Thursday night, and he's absolutely right. It's my right to judge and it's the Baseball Writers' Association of America's right to judge every single one of these guys. If they think a guy was doing drugs and therefore should be out of the Hall of Fame - something that obviously happened to the 1994 MVP - they can go ahead and keep the guy out.

Back when we discussed the juice here on a regular basis and before Pat started throwing temper tantrums about it, I practiced the policy of "innocent until implicated," which would have Bagwell, Gonzalez, and Nomar off the hook. People may say, "this is America, where you're innocent until proven guilty." But this is not a court of law. I don't see any lawyers here.

Unfortunately, there might be some players who were innocent but presumed guilty. But that's something that will have to rest on the conscience of the people who let it happen, Selig and Fehr. A big part of me hopes that a lot of the players of my late childhood and adolescence just don't make it in. This would mark in history what deserves to be in history - an indictment of the game during this time period and an indictment of the two executives who allowed the desecration of the game during that time period. Selig says he wouldn't do anything differently. If Ken Griffey was the only person from 1995-2005 inducted into the Hall of Fame, Selig may look into his own pockets and keep saying that it was a "golden age."

But he's wrecked the legacy of players, many of which could have no evidence against them. That's how poor his leadership, the leadership of Donald Fehr, and the lack of initiative taken by the players in support of the ones losing their jobs to the juicers. Think about it: If nobody had ever taken a drug, or if drug use were detected and tested for early, maybe a guy like Bagwell or Nomar could have been great without the rumors. And while I feel like Bagwell got screwed, he wasn't screwed last week by the great arbitrators behind the keyboards. He got screwed by the people in charge of the game fifteen years ago. Hopefully this resides on their consciences.

An update on another beef from the 1990s: Pete Carroll is still a freaking disaster. Enjoy yo day.


Ichiro said...

Watashiwa STEROID o tsukaimasen!!!

TimC said...

Goodness, DV, you've pissed off Ichiro! I'll translate for a fee.

Interesting comment there that by NOT including so many players in Cooperstown, the HOF WOULD be doing its job of cataloging baseball history through the implied indictment of that particular period. A lot of people use the same argument when defending the inclusion of these players, saying they should be in the HOF since the HOF is a walk-in closet stocked with baseball history books, so to speak, and excluding them goes against that mission. I really liked how you looked at it from the other side, though. Perhaps some kind of leaderboard or boxscore, listing the stats of a lot of guys from the era? It seems silly to ignore it in the hall but at the same time if the feeling is that these players cannot be in the HOF alongside their cleaner peers, some kind of commemoration should exist to note what happened in baseball and how it impacted the game.

the gm at work said...


I think the fee should be me and Pat giving you entertainment every workday for the last forty-seven months.

But I think what's happened to Palmeiro, McGwire, Bagwell, and soon to be many others is great. Even if after 15 years they are let in (remember, their numbers are close to what Blyleven got his first year of eligibility), I think it's good for baseball to make these guys sweat. They deserve to sweat. Although all the fraudulent earnings they got will be able to air condition their mansions.

But seriously, let's say McGwire got into the HOF in 2029, his last year of eligibility. That's like 25 years of sweating it out. Justice? Maybe.

Patrick said...

i have the same stance on this as i did in general. i'm not going to vilify guys we know used while letting so many who used unbeknown to us skate. that's the problem with the whole "it's my right to judge" on a case by case basis argument. we are all totally unequipped to make such judgments. it's like an adjudicator making a decision on 10% of the total information, because 10% is all of the information that is available. you can do your best to make a decision based on that information, but it's going to be a pointless exercise in most instances because 90% of information is unknown. in a situation where the individual wrong is all we care about, then getting 10% of it right is better than getting none of it right. but in this situation we are getting 10% of it right and in some instances continuing to glorify members of the other 90%. i'm not going to take part in this. as i've said before, i'm suspicious of everyone from this era who played this game. every single person. but i have no way to wrap my head around the total truth. none of us do right now. so i'm letting everyone in, steroids or not. this era was a steroids era. steroids users were competing against steroids users. some got caught and some didn't. i'm not going to punish the guys who did get caught and not those who didn't. is this fair to the non-users who might have gotten in otherwise who now won't? of course not, and that's the real shame. but this group of players is likely getting screwed no matter what. so i'm going to accept this era for what it is. you get into the HOF based on how you do against the competition from your era. this isn't a record book (for which i feel differently). so since usage was so widespread, i'm going to take it for what it is. i'm not going to exclude everyone who touched a baseball during this era, because that would be even more unfair. so instead i'm going to let known users in business as usual, with the understanding that i am letting even more unknown users in at the same time, which is the point.