Tagged: Shoeless Joe Jackson

How to Handle the Steroids Era

Before I start officially blogging all about Spring Training, there is one very important issue I would like to address. Many of you know my opinions on steroids, but I haven’t talked about it in a while. Believe me, my opinion has not changed, but with Mark McGwire FINALLY admitting to have taken steroids throughout his career; I think that it is a necessary topic to address. 

The question is no longer “if” they did it. The question is what to do about it. Unfortunately, the majority of the 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003 are still undisclosed. Actually, it’s hard for me to say whether or not that fact is unfortunate because the truth hurts. When all of the names finally come out, I know that some of the players I may consider “heroes” right now will be seen differently by many. 
Before I address what should be done about this issue, I would like to talk about the origins of this issue. I think that the catalyst was the implementation of the designated hitter rule in 1973. I do not like the designated hitter rule. It has severely disproportionated the two leagues, and it’s just not real baseball. Not only was it a catalyst for the steroids era, I also think it was a catalyst for the ridiculous contracts that have become a normalcy around Major League Baseball. My opinions on the possibility for a salary cap will be saved for another entry though. 
 I don’t know if the steroids era has an exact “starting point”, but arbitrarily speaking, I would say it was the last 20 years. No one is safe from suspicion, and the mentality has become “guilty until proven innocent”. There are people whom I believe to be clean such as Mike Lowell, Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, and Derek Jeter among others. So back to the main question: what to do about it? 
There are three main approaches to this dilemma, which you are probably familiar with, but there is no clear answer. Can we erase an era of baseball?Can we put the players who have cheated next to the players who have attained their feats on pure and natural talent? Can we use asterisks? 
The first method would be to simply not admit any players guilty of having used steroids into the Hall of Fame. This seems appropriate because these players cheated. I suppose they didn’t break the rules because steroids weren’t technically illegal YET, they were just frowned upon. When other players have broken the rules, they were banned from baseball even though they were quite deserving of a spot in the Hall (Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose). This is an entire ERA of players who have broken the rules. Baseball is a game rich in its history, and history cannot and should not be erased. It would be a travesty to try and forget any era of baseball: good or bad. The Hall of Fame may serve to commemorate the greatest players of each era, but it is also the ultimate token of baseball’s history. 
The second method would be to admit all players “worthy” of enshrinement into the Hall freely. Like I mentioned earlier, when players used steroids in the 90’s, they were not yet illegal. Is it truly fair to punish a person for something that was not yet considered a crime? What they did was not right, but it wasn’t completely wrong from a legal standpoint. The main problem with this theory is that the players of this era did not achieve their fantastic numbers the same way of their predecessors. These players have ruined the integrity of the game. Baseball is a game about natural abilities, not the abilities achieved externally. Surely it would be a tragedy to erase an entire era in baseball’s history, but it would also be a tragedy if players from the steroids era were admitted before other players who have been banned for their comparably trivial mistakes. 
The third and final approach to this dilemma is what some call the “asterisk method”. This would entail admitting all of the “worthy” players of the era into the Hall of Fame. However, a metaphorical asterisk would be placed next to their name, denoting the fact that they used performance enhancing drugs. This would not only ensure their place in baseball history, but it would also separate them from the natural greats. It seems like a win-win situation, but a problem still remains. There is no asterisk next the 1919 World Series. The Cincinnati Reds are in the books as the winners, even though the Chicago White Sox threw the series. There is no asterisk next to Roger Maris’ (former) single-season home run record (the controversy was that he had 162 games to do it whereas Babe Ruth only had 154). There is no asterisk next to Gaylord Perry’s name for his use of the spitball, nor is there an asterisk next to the lesser scandals. If we were to put an asterisk next to the players of the steroids era, Major League Baseball would certainly have to put asterisks next to other controversies. 
If I had to choose one, I would choose the asterisk method. There may be flaws, but you do get the best of both worlds. I don’t know if I’ll be able to cast a vote for a player guilty of using steroids until I get Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame. I will not allow a single player guilty of steroids into the Hall of Fame before those two men are in. Mark my words. 
Please let me know what you think. Shoot me an e-mail, comment, tweetformspring etc.

Tampering with the “faith of fifty million people”

Upon writing my previous entry, I had no idea that the very next morning, a ‘Special Report’ would be on MLB Network about Alex Rodriguez and steroids. I turned MLB Network on to watch Billy Cone of the Mets strike out 19 Phillies in an All Time Game. Little did I know that I would be in for a shock. 

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A-Rod tested positive in 2003 for using steroids, but he was only one of 103 other players who also tested positive. Of course A-Rod is the only one who gets scrutinized. I could barely respect A-Rod before I found out about this scandal, I didn’t like the way he played the game. He would do unethical things like knocking the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove and yell something to make the Blue Jays’ third baseman confused and drop a routine fly ball. That is unethical and disrespectful but steroids goes much, much beyond that. Not only did he do steroids, but he lied about it. 
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Can you imagine what people like Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb would be saying about this? I was just watching Ken Burns’ First Inning ‘Our Game’ today for my research paper and people were freaking out when pitchers would throw curve balls, people freaked out because of the notorious spit ball. This ongoing scandal with steroids needs to stop– it is the biggest scandal since the Black Sox Scandal the way I see it.
Similar to what Julia said in her letter to Bud Selig, if I did drugs in school, I would be kicked out immediately. In fact, kids were asked to leave earlier in the year because of a drug incident. In baseball, they only receive a minor suspension which pales in comparison to the expulsion that Jackson faced, that Pete Rose faces, and that I would face. 
Baseball is special, it is more special to us than anything probably is, or ever will be, but that does not mean that the people who play baseball are allowed to get special treatment. I know what they mean to the game, what they mean to us, but do we really want to degrade the game and ourselves to watching artificial people play the game? That’s not real– that’s not the baseball that I want to watch. I want to watch real baseball. I want to watch people who have not taken drugs to enhance their ability. I know that they want to be the best, and that the pressure is hard sometimes, but so is high school. Couldn’t I cheat on a test to get better grades? Is that any different? I would be giving myself an unfair advantage, I would be cheating myself. I would not be deserving the straight A’s that I would be getting. Baseball players are measured against other baseball players but when I’m applying for college, aren’t I going to be compared against other students? 
People have told me that I can’t just ignore the numbers. I can’t ignore the fact that Barry Bonds has surpassed Hank Aaron’s record, I can’t ignore the fact that Roger Clemens holds the records for strikeouts in a game? Aren’t we ignoring the fact that Pete Rose has over 4,000 hits? There is only one other player who has over 4,000 hits and that is Ty Cobb.
For those of you who have steadily kept up with this blog or for those who are first time visitors, you can tell from the title that I plan on having a job with Major League Baseball. I hope that one day I will be voting on players getting into the Hall of Fame. By then I hope that people who are guilty of doing steroids are ineligible for admittance. If they are eligible then they will not be receiving my vote. 
This is a terrible day for baseball. The integrity of our beautiful sport has been tainted. When a scandal like this happens, it calls for reform. I’m not saying reform the game itself because the game is beautiful. I’m saying reform what’s going on behind the game. This is a bold statement but, anyone who has ever done steroids should be ineligible for the Hall of Fame ballots, regardless if it was in 2003 or 2007. They found out about the Black Sox Scandal two years later and they still enforced punishment. Pete Rose gambled after he was a player and he is still banished. No one is going to take this seriously unless some serious consequences are enforced.
The sad part is that this time, it’s not gamblers who are tampering with the “faith of fifty million people”, it’s the players. 
I’m sorry baseball fans, 

Baseball Scandals– The Outcome of the Game

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Barry Bonds could be facing two years in prison, and everyone is talking about it, and other baseball scandals in the past. Here are my takes on some of baseball’s most infamous scandals: 
Steroids Users and Abusers:
Ever since Jose Canseco came out with that book accusing many beloved players around the league of abusing steroids, it has remained one of the most talked about topics in baseball. Then the Mitchell Report came out and many more players were accused. I cannot respect anyone who uses steroids– I can’t respect someone who doesn’t respect the game. They are setting a bad example for the future stars of baseball, and they are ruining the beauty of the game. 
Cheating is cheating and if players use steroids, then they have an unfair advantage over other naturally talented players. They still have to be able to hit the ball, but they sure can hit it harder. I do not think that the Hall of Fame should be an option for those players that used steroids, and I do not think that some of their records should stand. I believe that Barry Bonds is guilty [don’t hate me Steven!!], so I still consider Hank Aaron to be the home run king. 
The problem is that steroids affect the outcome of the game in an unethical way. I just want the game to be clean, and played with pure, natural talent. 
Pete Rose:
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Pete Rose has been ineligible for Hall of Fame eligibility because he bet on games while he was a manger. From the stories that I’ve heard and the videos that I’ve watched, Pete Rose played the game like no other. He did not cheat, he did not do anything TO the game of baseball. Betting on the game does not affect the outcome– steroids do. I don’t think gambling is the most ethical thing a person can do, and I do not condone it in any way, but I do not think that Pete Rose should be banned from the Hall of Fame because he bet on his team– he deserves to be there. He has been punished long enough. 
1919 ‘Black Sox’ Scandal:
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Everyone knows what happened. The eight players that were paid to throw the 1919 against the Cincinnati Red Stockings. This affected the outcome of the World Series because it was not just betting on winning or losing, it was paying people to specifically throw games. Shoeless Joe Jackson did accept the money, but he did not throw the series. .375 is not throwing a series, it is doing what Alex Rodriguez wishes he could do in the post season. Some of the players should be ineligible to be in the HOF, but Shoeless Joe Jackson did not throw the series. He played exactly how he was supposed to play. 
Daily Dosage of Baseball
Thankfully today’s daily dosage was not as tragic as yesterday’s. I was not harassed (yes I was), but at least I didn’t have to talk about Babe Ruth. I did get a ‘Hey Elizabeth, guess what? The Red Sox suck!’, but that was it. 
I went to the library to look for Ken Burns’ ‘Baseball’ because I would like to use it for my research paper. Unfortunately I could not find it, so my friend and I went downstairs and asked the front desk. They could not find it either, but the guy at the front was happy that my friend and I have taken an interest in baseball at “such a young age”. 
Then we went to Mr. Gedeon (in yesterday’s Daily Dosage) and he and I talked about more baseball. I told him that the Mets had personally offended me because of 1986. He also mentioned how relieved he was that Ben Sheets would not be joining the Mets because of that ridiculous elbow surgery. 
The Free Agent Files
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Like Jen, I do not understand why Sheets is having surgery now, when he could’ve had it in October or November. Was he planning telling his suitors that he would be needing elbow surgery after all of his claims that he was healthy? Well, we won’t be seeing Sheets until July or August. 
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Instead of talking about Manny Ramirez, how about Bobby Abreu? Where could he be going? He would be a nice addition to the Braves, but I think that they would be smarter to go with younger talent like Nick Swisher. I think he and Adam Dunn are in similar positions right now. Where do you think Abreu will go? 
What do you think about these HOF potentials?