Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Nuts and Bolts! Nuts and Bolts!

On Sunday, Fat Willard reported that "Major League Baseball could face a class-action lawsuit from former minor leaguers who believe they were denied a fair shot at making the majors because of steroids in the game."

If I were any of the above players, I would think I had a legitimate argument for a similar lawsuit for being denied a fair shot at immortality.

As Clemens noted taking "painkillers" for his achy "joints," his career prolonged as Murphy and the Hawk's knees and Donnie Baseball's back withered them into retirements.

As Jayson Stark pointed out yesterday:
But many of us who covered the National League in the '80s still can't figure out why. Dawson, Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy were the megastars in that league back then.
On Hawk:
Dawson was such a force, he won one MVP award and finished second twice. He was also a rookie of the year. He won eight Gold Gloves. And he spent a bunch of years in the who's-the-best-player-in-baseball debate.
On back-to-back MVP Murphy:
And the forgotten stars of the '80s keep on coming. No player of his generation has been more outspoken about the steroids era than Murphy. And, sadly, it's possible that no great player has had more damage done to his candidacy by that era -- and its inflated numbers -- than Murphy, either.

His 398 homers and that .469 career slugging percentage look downright ordinary nowadays. But remember, this is supposed to be about what these men did in their era.
Even without his 80's mustachio, Stark makes sense.

Maybe I'm biased for these guys. That was the era in which I grew to love baseball. To me Blyleven and Rice made their bones in the 70's (Yes, I know Bert spanned 3 decades).

While Raines not getting in on this ballot is a minor tragedy, he will certainly get his, hopefully sooner rather than later. However, as the perpetual holdovers continue to take up ballot space and new classes emerge, he could be stuck in the same purgatory for some time.

2009 features no-brainer (pun intended) Rickey Henderson along with borderliners David Cone and Mark Grace, while 2010 will certainly raise debate with first-timers Roberto Alomar, Andres Galarraga, Barry Larkin, Edgar Martinez and Fred McGriff. As only Goose made it in today, things could get crowded.

While often highlighted, I don't feel Rule 5 in the Hall voting criteria is legitimately taken seriously: Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

If Murphy's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which he played couldn't bolster his legitimacy among voters, where's this leave a guy like Martinez in 2 years? At least Edgar played on some decent teams.

Don't discount geography either. This certainly hindered Rock Raines, and while Edgar was the heart and soul of Pacific Northwest baseball (along with Jay "How the hell could you trade" Buhner), it'll likely hinder him as much as his DH-distinction. Mind you, Murphy played on the only team in the Southeastern US prior to Florida expansion, albeit while being broadcast on the Superstation.

I'm not saying that the system is flawed or even the voters. BBWAA should in fact be a very strong determining factor in the process, but not the end-all, be-all. Well, maybe I am. If you're pissed now, by the constant snubbing, brace yourself for the immediate future.

Says Stark, "I keep waiting for the backlash against the steroids era to start working in the favor of players like Rice. It hasn't happened yet. But backlash or no backlash, we're supposed to be comparing players to other players in their time, not anybody else's time."

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