Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Hall of Shame

Howdy, folks. Roller here. McFly recently offered a solid suggestion that we diversify our content. While we still have 47 more Law & Order pieces to do and an approaching deadline for our "T.L.A.T.L.: Behind the Blog" reality show pitch, it wouldn't hurt to flex a different part of our brains. And since we're on the topic of flexing...

This post's topic is nothing original. Hence, the incredibly overused title. But I wavered on this subject for quite some time before finally coming to my own conclusion, and I think it merits a post. The topic: Should Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa be elected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame?

I asked Coovo if he'd join me on this one, L&O style, and he suggested that we write the post in more of a conversational manner. I agreed, under the condition that I can write as him half the time, and vice versa. He agreed. Or maybe I agreed while perpetrating Coovo.

In any event, I think (hope) the best part will be the comments we get from the handful of loyal readers we are lucky enough to have, all of whom are avid and knowledgeable fans of the Pastime. Play Ball...

Roller: So, we have "the men who saved baseball" at or near the end of their careers, after having piled up power numbers that would make even Josh Gibson raise an eyebrow. In the late 90's, their at-bats put conversations on pause. Fans would linger in a 14-1 stinker just to see their last AB in the 8th or 9th inning (and on the flip side, promptly leave immediately afterward even during a good game). There's no doubt in my mind that I was caught up in it, and I cannot remember giving any concern to performance enhancers at the time. I remember the andro escapade in '98, but felt that McGwire was vindicated in '99 when he said he stopped using it and still hit 65 HRs.

Coovo: If we're going to go into this together, you're going have to stop using big words like "perpetrating", and start using words I can understand, like anabolic steriod or human growth hormone. I talked a little bit about this with a post back in March entitled Pump up the Volume, but the issue here is just about Sosa and McGwire.

I was naive. I just thought that all athletes were tested for steroids. That is why I watched that crazy '98 season with as much excitement as anybody else. I was even at the game where McGwire hit no. 62. I am ashamed as a Cub fan but I clapped for McGwire. Looking back on it now, we are left with nothing but specualtion. I would say that we are left with the words of these men, like when they testified in front of Congress, but too many times in the current sports world we athletes in front of Matt Lauer repenting for their sins.

So Roller. For the sake of argument. As of now, there is no "smoking gun proof", neither player has ever been suspended (for steroids, Sosa had some bad lumber once), and they each have over 580 Home runs. Why wouldn't you vote for them?

Roller: That's a good question. Let's start with this: I think it's obvious that if it was indisputable that neither of them used performance enhancers, and they still put up those numbers, this wouldn't even be a debate. Their first-ballot status would be about as sure a bet as one could make in baseball.

But that's far from the case. So I'll turn it back to you. Do you feel that you'd need proof that they used in order to bar their legendary careers from HOF glory? And when I say proof, I mean more than, you know, Jose Canseco's "The Needle, The Ass, and Biceps of Brass".

Coovo: I'll have to see photos of all of these players' behinds before I can make a judgement. To me, it is Sosa that is the inriguing vote.

We have Canseco's allegations against McGwire, but we also have McGwire not denying he used steroids in front of Congress. That is what is keeping him out of the Hall now, not Canseco. After McGwire went, Sosa denied ever taking them. Then Rafeal Palmerio did as well. Whoops. Sosa sits there literally sandwiched between two "users". Then you look at the evidence against Bonds. Pretty convincing. So of the three players to pass Maris, two have solid circumstantial evidence against them, and again Sosa is along for the ride.

Other than refusing to pee in a cup when asked to out of the blue by a reporter, Sosa's more guilty by association. I believe he was on something, but the proof is less clear than McGwire.

Roller: "Whoops." Nice. I agree with you, although he was never caught using steroids, McGwire's almost tearful refusal to "talk about the past" paints a guilty portrait. And Sosa has never been caught, and has denied using. On the surface, one does look a little guiltier than the other.

Now that I'm done with an objective response, I have to throw in what I believe. Not based on facts, but my gut (and admittedly somewhat biased by my allegiance to a certain ballclub for which McGwire played). I can't help it, I just love those Athletics.

I believe McGwire to be a good person. After signing his first contract with the Cards, he started giving $1 million / year to his foundation for abused children (again just about crying when announcing it). The guy is a softie. I believe he is a good person who made a very, very bad decision. And he knows it. And he feels guilty now. I am in know way suggesting that his good deeds exonerate his (alleged) steroid use, but I believe his conscience won't let him deny using them.

I can't say I've seen those qualities in Sammy. Of course, my opinion of Sosa's character is worth about as much as he can throw me (mixed metaphors rule!). But here are some items that helped formulate my opinion on Sammy:

  • Sammy can speak fluent English. He speaks it incredibly well in most interviews. Yet anytime he gets in a little trouble (the steroid proceedings, the corked bat), he puts on his immigrant smile and plays the "No espeaka de english" card.

  • Like McGwire, Sammy also started a charity organization. His was based in his home country, the Dominican Republic. Now, I heard this so long ago that I can't say if it was on CNN or A Current Affair, but I remember hearing that the charity hadn't received a good chunk of promised money from Sammy, and that Sammy's relatives were driving new cars bought in the charity's name.

You can feel free to tell me to go to hell on these points, because they're not much. And I'd love to hear stories of Sammy rescuing a blind person's HIV-infected kitten from a burning tree. But the guy just seems a little shady to me.

So to sum up this long winded response, I guess I just feel that you have two people who are guilty. One just has a heavier conscience than the other.

Coovo?..... You awake?.....

Coovo: Barely. I've had more intersting reads while presuing the Better Home & Gardens Igloo edition.

I don't disagree with you about Sosa the person, but if being a good guy were criteria for the Hall of Fame, then we'd have to have a recount. The Hall of Fame vote is based on what one does on the field, not with his charity organizations. Unless of course he wagered on what happened on the field.

I have no doubt that now McGwire thinks what he did was wrong. He's probably very regretful. He probably won't let his son do steroids until college. Sorry, I couldn't resist. Who knows what Sammy is (other than being "berry berry good at baseball)? Although I do need to hear some of those "fluent English" interviews. If McGwire did roids a few years in Oakland. Well, that's one thing. But if he used all the way through his 70 home run season, that's another.

Roller: I suppose we'll only know if McGwire tells us (which I have a feeling he will at some point) or if Jimmy Ballgame writes a book about sticking needles in Mac's pimpled arse. I don't think McGwire's size diminished at all when he donned The Birds on The Bat - he actually seemed to be bigger than ever - so I'm guessing that he used during the 1998 season. Honestly, if he only used a few years in Oakland and hit a clean 70 HRs, what the hell is he crying about?

"The Hall of Fame vote is based on what one does on the field, not with his charity organizations." True, at least that's how it's been done in the past. We can save the "Would you vote Ty Cobb into the HOF?" debate for a breather in the "Growing Pains and Wonder Years" mini-series we've got queued up for the Fall.

But my point wasn't really that Sosa should be held from the Hall because he's not a Saint. I was just pointing to traits that, like the "bad lumber" incident, make me inclined to believe he's OK with cheating.

So, we've danced around the answer enough. Point Blank: Given what evidence exists right now, would you vote for either McGwire or Sosa? I'll even say Sosa plays till the end of 2008 and finishes with 625.

You're a point blank. A Grosse Point Blank to be exact.

The whole MLB process in my mind has lost credibility with this issue, and that includes the Hall of Fame. I hate the cop-out, "it wasn't against baseball's rules." Everyone has known steroids were wrong since Ben Johnson lost his gold medal in the 1988 Seoul Olympics. But even after this event, 10 years before the home run chase, all of baseball--Owners, the Union, the Commisioners office--still ignored the issue. Now, a dark cloud sits over the whole game. And that cloud includes the Hall of Fame and nothing short of a rigged up Delorean time machine will remove this cloud.

I vote yes to both players. In the end, MLB should share as much blame as the players. And we can't penalize MLB. Only the players will know whether the plaque on the wall is a fraud and they'll have to live with it.

I can see your point. It's like that Van Halen song where they're like "I see both sides now". I think it's that one. Either that one or "Why Can't This Be Love?" Cause I'll be damned if I get hung out on the line!

Is MLB to blame? Without a doubt. But the players made their own choices; acted under their own will. What bothers me the most is that Sosa and McGwire were incredibly talented players. We all know McGwire hit 49 HR in his rookie year. Speed was as much a part of Sosa's game as power before his legs got so big that running was a fire hazard. We'll never know exactly what kind of numbers they would have put up. That irritates me.

If you hadn't guessed by now, I vote no to both players. I think a "yes" is essentially saying "it's too late now" to right the ship. Baseball has made many a mistake in the past, but that's no excuse to continue.

Well, there you have it. A split decision. We leave with the actual conversation from the pitcure above.

S: Hey Big Mac! You da man!

M: Hey Sammy. Nice walk.

S: The ump make good calls. He was berry berry good to me. You da man!

M: I know. Your arms are massive dude. Whatcha ya bench?

S: I eat horse pill, my arms double in size, I hit da homer. You da man!

M: Damn right. You wanna do some andro after the game?

S: Only if it make my neck turn into leather like you! You da man!


Austin said...

Roller and Coov -
Congratulations on your apparent membership into the Baseball Writers Association of America. I am excited that you two get to finally vote for the Hall of Fame and that you might get to meet Rick Hummel. I am amazed Coov made a post regarding the Hall of Fame without mentioning Ron Santo.

As you know, the gods have bestowed upon me the gift of being able to see into the near future. I have a feeling your audience may soon grow exponentially. After Fred Thompson announces his candidacy for President and the last 4 years of the show are pulled from TNT to comply with U.S. federal law regarding equal TV time for candidates, TNT executives will be scrambling to fill 12 hours of programming per day. What better way to fill the time than a 60 minute two person round-table discussion about Law and Order or about the necessity of calling it "round-table" if there are only two of you? Good luck on the show and great 1991 picture of Sammy.

Marty said...

Nice Austin...maybe you could be a special guest medical correspondent....Anyways, I think you have to let Sosa in for the hairstyle in that Sox baseball card. I mean I didn't know that anyone was going to try and bridge the gap between flock of seagulls and Kid (from Kid n' Play), but I'm pretty sure that's what he has accomplished with that picture. Whoa...I'm going to go watch House Party 3 now, but good post, i especially enjoyed the parts where you made fun of latin americans.....somehow i feel that that comment will haunt me in the future...

Coovo said...

Marty and I heard the other day that Fred Thompson is running thrid is the Republican presidential race. And he hasn't even announced yet. Ron santo was just behind him.

I bought four gallons of milk after seeing that McGwire picture.

Roller said...

That would definitely be an interesting opportunity, Austin. But we'd have to consider the possibility that 60 consecutive minutes of Coovo and I discussing anything could actually hurt our audience size.

We'd bring Austin on to talk about the art of Right Center Field. We'd bring Marty on to talk about beards. We'd bring McCabe on to talk about mustaches. We'd bring Geno on to talk about McCabe.

What am I talking about that would be an instant hit!!!

labargeg said...


Ol' Rye-nomyte?

Oll' Rye-necomastia?

Ollle' Rye-tning bug Rye?

I could talk about Ryan for a good hour. His Little Flower childhood. His deep Samba roots. his friendship with Doug Caesar and the strains on their relationship when Doug joined the BAAA and Ryan joined the Third Reich. His walk-on success at Depauw with "W". His elite status at the Double D. His hot cousin. His year with Buck and Hamlet. His ability to create robots that clean and dust and compliment your girlfriend in your own voice while you're up at the corner bar watching a Blues game.

And there's more, believe you me!

Coovo said...

I should of wrote this during the blog and I hate to divert the commenting back to the actual topic of the post, but I remembered another reason why it we bought into to Sammy's big year. He made significant changes at the plate working with new hitting coach Jeff Pentland. He moved way off the plate. Pulled his hands in and used his feet as a timing mechanism. That made Jeff Pentland a God. Turns out it was a false idol.

Ryan said...

Rye-tning Bug Ry? Geno, taht took me like 3 reads to figure out, but I got to give you perfect scores for originality, hilarity, lip-sync and costumes.

A really valid post, I'm not really sure how I'd vote for them. The difficulty is that you sort of have to vote the same way for all those guys, and can anyone really keep Bonds out of the HOF?

Does anyone find it odd that teams holding the fat-head versions of Sosa, McGwire and Bonds couldn't seem to do much in the playoffs, or even get to the playoffs?

I know, I know, one of those teams was the Cubs, but Giants and Cards too?

labargeg said...


I agree to a certain extent on the playoff argument, but don't forget that the 2002 Giants (the ones that took down our blessed Birdos) were one bad 8th inning away from winning game six of the World Series and taking it all against Anaheim. Bonds hit his 4th playoff bomb that night and would have looked pretty good if it hadn't been for a bullpen meltdown.

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