Jan 10

Larkin one of the last non-controversial inductees?

Cincinnati shortstop Barry Larkin could be one of the last non-controversial Hall of Fame inductees. With 85 percent of the vote, he entered without the shadow of PEDs. For the near future, those on the ballot will have been linked to PEDs, or might have their induction chances enhanced because they will be going up against the scorned.

Larkin had a stellar career, one without suspicion. He was deserving in every sense.

In Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, we have our test cases for those linked to steroids for the Hall voters, of which I am one. If a player tests positive for steroids or other PEDs, or has been linked to the drugs, he won’t get my vote.

My thinking for guys under suspicion is to withhold my vote until there is more information. Is it fair? No, but I’d rather hold the vote and give it to the player later because once the vote is cast and he’s inducted it can’t be rescinded.

Next year’s ballot is disturbingly loaded with those accused of steroid use or suspected. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza among them.

For Bonds, Clemens and Piazza, it is argued they compiled Hall of Fame numbers before being linked to steroids. For Sosa, it is suggested the stretch of his career where his noteworthy stats were compiled was all steroid related. In addition, not only did Sosa cheat with drugs, but also used a corked bat.

The simple take on steroids is it enables a hitter to hit the ball further. In reality, the issue isn’t whether PEDs add an additional 50 feet to a fly ball, but the extra five that enables it to clear the wall.

Steroids enable the user to continue training during the long, hot days of summer when he otherwise might not. This continued training didn’t make the hitter stronger as much as it increases his bat speed, and this is what generates the power.

Some argue the player still has to hit the ball, which is true, but increased bat speed can turn a normal fly ball into one that barely clears the wall. It is an unfair advantage. It is cheating.

Some apologists for the steroid user claim baseball didn’t have a defined anti-drug policy until recently. While this is true, use without a doctor’s prescription is against the law. It doesn’t matter MLB didn’t have a policy in place at the time Bonds was torching National League pitching.

With the holdovers from this year’s ballot, coupled with those next year who are clean, the pickings are slim, both in terms of PEDs and career numbers, of those qualified who’ll get in as did Larkin.

I have not, and will not vote for a player connected to PEDs. It is cheating and I don’t believe that should be rewarded. Fans should watch games confident in the knowledge what they are seeing to real, but that isn’t the case with drugs.

Not only won’t they get my vote, but I believe their statistics should come with an asterisk they were compiled under suspicion of PED use. This should also be noted on their plaque if they get the necessary votes.

Under the present voting guidelines, I can’t see it any other way.

 

 

 

 

Jul 21

Today in Mets’ History: A tip of the hat to Beltran.

Thanks to Ray Sadecki for noting today might be Carlos Beltran’s last home game as a member of the Mets. Will they trade him before the trade deadline or extend this out until August? All indications are the Mets will move before July 31.

Ray asked for some reflections on the Beltran Era, and what sticks out most for me is him playing with a broken face after his outfield collision with Mike Cameron. Most outfielders would have packed it in, but Beltran kept on playing while others weren’t. Beltran played hurt, and he played hurt often. He is a gamer.

In 2006, he carried the Mets like the All-Star he was. I’ll never begrudge him for Adam Wainwright because it was a nasty pitch and who wouldn’t get caught on that?

From 2006-08, Beltran hit at least 27 homers with 112 RBI, but injuries sapped his production those two seasons. I’ll remember how the Mets rushed him back for a few more at-bats rather than undergo surgery immediately. It got to the point where Beltran had surgery on his own, causing him to be late for the 2010 season. That was on Omar Minaya.

I’ll always regard Beltran as a player capable of carrying a team on his back for a week or two, but not to the point where he’d shape a game like Mark McGwire or Barry Bonds. Then again, I’ll always remember Beltran as a clean player, one who was good to the game.

It’s a shame the Mets’ financial problems forced this position. If this had been handled better during the surgery issue and the Mets’ not caught with their pants down in the Ponzi scandal, then perhaps we’d be talking about an extension for him.

Beltran had a good career here when healthy. His career is over with the Mets, but there will an extension for him somewhere.

 

 

 

 

Jun 06

Today in Mets History: A typical mauling.

The Mets finally recognized the 1986 team this weekend. I’m bad, too. I should have had more on that dynamic team, also. I’ll rectify that beginning today.

DANNY HEEP: Remember him?

The 1986 Mets mauled opponents. They dominated. The steamrolled them. Such as on this date in Pittsburgh with a 10-4 rout that featured 15 hits.

The first four hitters in the order, Mookie Wilson, Wally Backman, Darryl Strawberry and Danny Heep went a combined 9-for-18 with seven runs scored.

The Mets hit only three homers that day – Rick Aguilera, Strawberry and Wilson – to move 20 gaves (35-15) over .500.

Gary Carter and Keith Hernandez were off that day.

Aguilera started and lasted 4.1 innings, and Roger McDowell worked 3.2 innings of relief to earn the victory.

On a side note, Barry Bonds went 0-for-5 for the Pirates.

BOX SCORE

 

Jan 11

Jan. 11.10: McGwire comes clean.

McGWIRE: More than milk gave him that body.

McGWIRE: More than milk gave him that body.

Saying he knew this day would eventually come, Mark McGwire released a statement today to the AP admitting his use of steroids. McGwire hit 583 career homers in 16 seasons, and before the steroid era he would have been a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

McGwire has been barely a blip of the Hall of Fame radar screen since his retirement. Many writers, myself included, said they wouldn’t vote for McGwire or any other player linked to steroids. His admission will cause for some soul searching from those writers, myself included, as to their stance now.

Honestly, an admission doesn’t alter the fact he cheated, but it’s a way of being honest to the fans and to the game. For that, whatever McGwire’s motivation, deserves some consideration. I’ve always been a believer in second chances so I might be leaning in that direction. So, in that respect, personally I’m glad he did this as it will erase the cloud hovering over him.

In the Never-say-Never Department, McGwire, now a hitting instructor with the Cardinals, could be activated says manager Tony La Russa. Should that happen, the clock would go back and wouldn’t start ticking until he retires for good. It would be interesting to see the reaction McGwire would receive, but it would be more interesting to see if he has anything left for real.

McGWIRE: Whiffs in front of Congress.

McGWIRE: Whiffs in front of Congress.


Some excerpts to his release:

* “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

• “I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come. It’s time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected.”

• “I’m sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those home runs had I never taken steroids. I had good years when I didn’t take any, and I had bad years when I didn’t take any. I had good years when I took steroids, and I had bad years when I took steroids. But no matter what, I shouldn’t have done it and for that I’m truly sorry.”

Technically, McGwire never lied to Congress, he just looked weak saying he wasn’t there to talk about the past. Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Rafael Palmeiro – all with 500 career homers – have been linked, or suspected of using steriods.

Do you feel better about McGwire now, or didn’t it matter either way?

Feb 07

A-Roids outed … yawn … where’s the surprise?

RODRIGUEZ: Outed.

RODRIGUEZ: Outed.

Sports Illustrated had the story. Alex Rodriguez has been outed using steriods. Nothing is ever a surprise anymore. Not that there weren’t suspicions. How could there not be questions? How could there not be questions of anybody?

It’s disappointing in a sense because I hoped Rodriguez would have been the one to break Barry Bonds’ mark. (I refuse to call Bonds’ total a record, as to me, the record holder for home runs in Hank Aaron).

Rodriguez, like Bonds, is a great player. Did he really need chemical enhancement to reach his level of excellence? That’s the puzzling thing. It’s not like he needed something to put him over the top.

Then again, we don’t know when he started. We have an idea of when Bonds started, but Rodriguez we can only speculate.

To get inside his head and wonder why he would cross over to the dark side and opt to cheat for the first time would be a fascinating study.

For now, all we can do is wonder.

Why? When? Where? How?

And, of course, who else?