Archive for August, 2012

Let Steroid Users in the Hall of Fame? Here’s A Solution

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2012 by innovativemediapr

So as we await the decision this Wednesday by the selected members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who get the right to cast a ballot, on which eligible players will be part of this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame induction class, we must ponder whether this system needs to be changed. This year’s balloting takes on added significance with the first year eligibility of two major superstars, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Based on statistics, the pair should be first ballot shoe-ins. However, both are tainted from their alleged steroid use.

Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson recently created a firestorm when he was quoted in a Sports Illustrated piece about how he felt the admitted use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) by Yankee third basemen Alex Rodriguez placed his career achievements in question and could affect whether he ever would be elected to the Hall of Fame. In the same article, Reggie also gave his opinion on fellow Hall of Fame players he felt did not merit enshrinement, like Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, Jim Rice, Kirby Puckett and Gary Carter, based on their career numbers.  Reggie’s opinion caused great consternation and even got him barred for a week from being around the Yankees, the team that employs him, because of his comments about ARod.

Reggie’s interpretation of who belongs in the Hall of Fame or not was subjective based on his evaluation of their talents. After all, he did play against all the players he discussed.

However, as a Hall of Famer, it was his stance on ARod that embodies the problem facing the Baseball Hall of Fame in dealing with the whole steroid era. Many baseball writers have already said they will not vote for players they feel allegedly used steroids, such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire.

So far, there have only been a few players that have actually admitted to using PEDs, with ARod and Jose Canseco, who wrote a book about it, being the most prominent.  The rest of the Hall of Fame caliber- names, allegedly used steroids.  There is no tangible proof they did and no one is coming forward to say that they have.

For more than half a century major league baseball owners kept players of color out to the game. Thus, the stars of the day playing in a segregated league never got to face the best players of the Negro Leagues.  Many of the players in this period set records that still stand today and earned a place in Cooperstown because of it. Yet, would those records have been accomplished and what kind of career totals would the Negro League players have achieved if they had an equal shot against their white brethren?  We’ll never know that answer because it was not allowed to happen until Branch Rickey made the commitment to sign Jackie Robinson and bring him to the major leagues as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.

There’s no question that the national pastime was stigmatized in the late 1980s and 1990s by the use of PEDs by some of its most prominent players.  Now, after seven-time Cy Young Award Winner Roger Clemens was acquitted of federal perjury charges that he lied to Congress during their 2008 hearings, the question remains will Clemens, or any other player associated with PEDs ever be elected to the Hall of Fame?

As a baseball fan, I never like to compare eras.  To me, a Hall of Famer is defined by whether that player dominated his position for 10 years or more, not whether he was as good as Bob Feller, Tom Seaver or Babe Ruth.  There have been immortals in every decade and era of baseball history.

Many people feel that baseball has grown the most over the last 15 years or more under the guidance of Bud Selig as Commissioner. Selig helped usher in interleague play, the wild card, unprecedented national television contracts, a harmonious labor relationship with the Major League Players Association and, of course, his most notable accomplishment—making the All Star Game count!

Some baseball writers speak of Selig as a sure-fire selection for the Hall of Fame as an executive one day. If so, what will the writers that say they will not cast a ballot for Bonds, Clemens or Alex Rodriguez do then?  Certainly Selig presided over the game as Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were hitting “super” balls over the wall shattering a mark that had stood since Roger Maris achieved the feat of 61 home runs in 1961.

Anyone watching the Game of the Week on Fox could see players balloon into super heroes before their very eyes. Surely, it helped boost the ratings for Fox. Did they ever say anything or do an investigative piece?

Ivan Rodriguez and Sosa are two players who could have served as models for any of the leading weight loss companies. All you had to do was look at their baseball cards from their early years to their power years and then back to their last seasons to see the physical change in their bodies.

Will a baseball writer for the New York Post, Baltimore Sun or any other outlet that has a Hall of Fame vote exclude a player and let in the commissioner that governed the game during this era?  How do you prove anything when only a few have ever admitted to it?   Do you base a Hall of Fame vote on speculation or on hard facts?  What about the racists, alcoholics and cheaters that are already enshrined?  Gaylord Perry threw a spitball which effectively improved his chances of winning the games he started. He’s a Hall of Famer.

As a baseball fan and as a public relations practitioner, here’s my solution.

The Baseball Hall of Fame, Baseball Writers of America and Major League Baseball should publicly acknowledge this period in history as a black eye for the game. An exhibit should be created in Cooperstown devoted to the period of 1985-2005 as the “steroid era.” The display and historic review could outline how PEDs were prominent in the game with large numbers of players using them.

Anyone elected to the Hall of Fame that played during this period would have his plaque read “played in the steroid era” regardless if they were allegedly associated with PEDs or not.  Let’s face it a pitcher who did not use PEDs was certainly affected by facing hitters that were juiced. The same can be said for hitters that faced pitchers using PEDs.  What about the lesser players who used PEDs and made defensive plays or got big hits to help their teams during this era? Should all win-loss records be abolished then?

In doing so, they should also recognize that the time has come to stop pointing fingers at alleged users of PEDs.  I do not condone cheating nor do I take solace in the fact that records were set by players whose performance was enhanced through the use of steroids and other PEDs.  However, the game was impacted by PED use by more than just these high-profile players. Just look at the Mitchell Report. That’s why I think it’s unfair to keep someone off the ballot or not vote for them strictly because they allegedly used PEDs.  The entire era needs to be recognized for what it was.  Unless everyone eligible for Hall of Fame election comes forward and admits to being a PED user, how can you judge one over the other? And, who is to say, the Baseball Writers Association may have already enshrined someone who did abuse PEDs but was never suspected?

This is why I think the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America should be mandated to vote on the numbers alone. There should be no grandstanding. A player’s merits would be based solely on what he did during his era of play.

Let’s face it, Pete Rose is barred because he gambled on baseball but his accomplishments are still recognized and on display in Cooperstown. He just does not have a plaque.  If the writers keep Bonds, Clemens and others from enshrinement, their bats, gloves and photos will still be on display as well.

So what are you telling fans?  The ball hit breaking Hank Aaron’s home run record belongs in Cooperstown but the man who hit it doesn’t?

They say Josh Gibson hit over 800 home runs in the Negro Leagues.  He did not face Major League pitching. Would his numbers have been the same? We will never know.

Were Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Hall of Fame caliber players before the steroid era?  Many would say most definitely.  In fact, Bonds himself spoke out on this on Tuesday during an interview.

The bottom line is this is all subjective.  Acknowledge the sins of the past without placing any asterisks or purposely withholding votes for these players.

Just like it was wrong to place an asterisk next to Roger Maris’ 61 home runs because he did it playing in a season with eight more games than when Babe Ruth hit 60, so is it wrong to keep Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame.  Let him in with the other alleged cheaters, but recognize that he did so in an era when a large majority of his peers were also cheating.

The fans were not blind. They saw a definitive change in the game during this period. However, they came out in record numbers to see Major League games.  They did not come out to see a sportswriter.



RT @sbjsbd: Roger Goodell working w NFLP

Posted in Uncategorized on August 2, 2012 by innovativemediapr

RT @sbjsbd: Roger Goodell working w NFLPA to address increasing # of player arrests. @InsightfulPlayr can play role