A Little Help From My Friends?

As John Lennon and Paul McCartney once cooked up in a swirl of psychedelic delusion, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

As many of you know, I am a student at St. Cloud State University, currently studying criminal justice, journalism and broadcasting. Weird combo, I know.

Anyhow, I'm in a rather enjoyable rhetorical and analytical writing class this semester and I need some help on a paper I've been assigned. It's a persuasive essay on a semi-controversial topic, with my assigned persuasion being from the minority end.

Naturally, as a rabid baseball fan, I've chosen to write about the Steroid Era and its relation to the Hall of Fame. It seems the majority of fans (and the voting members of the BBWAA) feel steroids have no place in the Hall. That will be apparent when Mark McGwire's 23.7 percent of the votes he received in 2009 drops even farther next year thanks to his recent admission of performance-enhancing drug use. Unless he gets brownie points for honesty? Probably not.

This is where you guys come in. I've never been that great of a fibber. I get this weird tick, start to sweat, and the guilt overwhelms me. I suck at lying... even in written format. So I need some more ideas, excuses, and reasons as to why guys like Big Mac and Sammy Sosa, maybe even Jose Canseco, and (of course) the controversial, black-balled Home Run King himself, Barry Lamar Bonds, belong in the Hall of Fame.

It's an underbelly topic, and while many of you may be of the opinion that these guys are better suited for the Hall of Shame, a few of you may very well believe they do deserve a bronze bust. I'm afraid to admit that after getting halfway into this paper, I could be fooling myself into thinking they do as well. Let's just say I'm on the fence for now.

So let's hear it. Be a buddy and help me write this sucker from the comments section...

Update: In the unfortunate circumstance that you don't plan to check out our highly-entertaining comments section, one of our pals Jerod from Midwest Sports Fan left this link for us down there

Joe Posnanski: Cheating and CHEATING

which got me to thinking, Joe Posnanski is like a wise old owl. Except not really that old and not actually a nocturnal bird of prey... but any time you're searching for an answer, there he is, just waiting for you to come along and check out his awesome perspective on life and baseball.


JerodMSF said...

Sooze, it's a little late so I'm having trouble forming coherent sentences.

However, Joe Posnanski never has such a problem.

His article today provides a great frame of reference for how we romanticize the past while forgetting that the mindsets that led to steroid use during contemporary times was still there then...the difference was access.

For the record, I say keep all of these cheaters out. But what Joe alludes to and states in his article is a pretty good argument that if you keep them out, you should probably just wipe the Hall and start over because a lot of other guys - by precedent - would probably have to be removed too.


Jon Marthaler said...

Not that I agree with these, but here's the best two reasons I can think of:

1) The Hall of Fame has alcoholics, amphetamine-users, spitballers, sign-stealers, and (probably) wife-beaters in it. Cheating, via drugs or otherwise, has been part of the game for years and years. Picking steroids as the one sole evil in the whole discussion is arbitrary and silly.

2) For better or worse, the steroid era is part of baseball history. Keeping Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire out of the Hall of Fame doesn't un-hit their home runs or un-do the effect that their home run chases had on baseball and on America. To ignore a piece of baseball history, merely because you don't agree with it or because journalists are embarrassed they didn't pick up on the problem earlier, is ludicrous.

jimcrikket said...

I'm honestly one who thinks the writers are being sanctimonious asses by refusing to vote McGwire, et al, in to the HoF. In the first place, most of these writers have NO business passing moral judgment on anyone else. They'd better hope they don't start setting morality standards to get in to the writers' wing of the HoF.

Second, since when did "cheating" and getting away with it disqualify anyone from HoF consideration? Gaylord Perry flaunted his cheating. So is it cheating with drugs that disqualifies someone? Every Hall of Famer in the 60s and 70s probably used speed to get through the season. That didn't contribute to improved performance?

Let's face it... this is about one thing only. The almighty Home Run Record! If nobody had broken the single season or career HR records, nobody would be getting shut out of the HoF. It's not that these guys cheated or used PEDs... it's that they broke the HR records doing it.

And we won't even go in to how MLB turned a blind eye to the whole thing.

They're all hypocrites.

WhiteSpeedReceiver said...

Jesus, I hate using this because.

If you say that Bonds' career ended in 1999, before his, ahem, indiscretions, he finished his career with 445 HR, 1299 RBI, 460 SB, a slightly-pedestrian .288 average, 3 MVP, 4 more top-5 finshes, and a reputation as one of the two best OF of his generation, along with Griffey. He's probably in from that.

Excuse me, I feel dirty. I need to go shower.

mookie said...

Sooze, I'm coming in with a fresh perspective as a non-baseball follower.

The way I see it, steroid use in baseball has seen an era take place where it was pervasive in the sport, to the point that people are no longer surprised to find out that another star has been involved with its use. The widespread problem has also meant that there are likely a large number of users that will go on into the sunset without ever being detected as cheats.

From that perspective, its best and fairest just to leave all and sundry in HoF consideration and leave the judgements of character/fairness to the sports columnists and fans in bars down the track as an off-the-record debate.

Megs said...

All great comments so far, and White Speed took the words right out of my mouth. Bonds could have retired happily years ago (and probably should have).

And what about when Sosa and McGwire saved the game in 1998 just 3 years after all seemed lost with the players union strike? They made it exciting again for the average fan. Thank you steroids.

I guess I'm of the minority when I say let these guys in the Hall.

Jonathan said...

I'm not so sure that saying the users are hall of famers is the minority position.

(see: http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2861930 )

That said, there is a reason there is a waiting period and before we start voting on these people in addition to many years of eligibility. I think Bonds and ARod are the true test cases for this thing as they have achievements in the post '03 period when they knew what our opinion on PEDs was. We still think of the BBWAA as the press row from 61* when the reality is that no one can be absolutely outraged by their post-season awards selections this past-season and I for one trust their judgement on the matter more than a 'SportsNation' Poll.

Another point to consider is that it is possible to have these players (especially Sosa v McGwire '98 and Bonds '01, etc) have their achievements memorialized in the Hall without actually making these people Hall of Famers. In any case, If I were a writer with a vote, I would really try to wait until the individual player becomes eligible and not make my mind up right now.

Tuffy said...

First they came for the juicers, and I did not speak out—because I did not cheat and stalking horses make easy columns;
Then they came for the players' union, and I did not speak out—because I was not overpaid and pampered;
Then they came for the fans' wallets, and I did not speak out—because I have a BBWAA press pass;
Then they came for me—and no one cared because the teams had their own bloggers by then who told us the juicers were just misunderstood so come out and enjoy their bobblehead day this June!

Mudville Nine™ said...

Hi Sooze, I like the argument that the Hall of Fame is full on alcoholics, drug addicts, spitballer and such.

But to me the best reason Bonds, ans co should be allowed in the Hall of Fame is the no other player from any era had to face pitchers who were on steroids and growth hormones thus making it fair for everyone.

With basically all the same drugs in their systems, again, the ones who trained the hardest and had the most talent ended up on top of the food chain.

Furthermore, the fact the league allowed it to happen because it made them tons of money prevents the argument that they should'nt be in the HOF.

Everyone involved knew what was happenning (players, teams, MLB and union) so no one part should be penalized for something that was "de facto" authorized and even supported one could argue.

Sooze said...

You guys are so awesome -- these are all great comments. In the same light as some of your additions, the legendary Georgia Peach was famous for sharpening his spikes in an effort to shank opposing players.

He also choked a groundskeeper's wife once, which is not cool no matter who you are.

However, Cobb received 222 of 226 votes on his inaugural HoF ballot. Would he have used PEDs if given the opportunity? I say hell yes, that dude was nuts. But he was a hell of a ballplayer, and hence, an immediate Hall of Famer.

I think I've found my angle. :)

Marea said...

Dear Lord in heaven... after reading these comments I almost think they should get in. AFTER Bert Blyleven, of course. Then again, I also think Pete Rose deserves to be there too.

The steroid era unfotunately saved baseball after the strike - even I, a die hard fan of the game, only went to TWO games from 1995-1999... And there were maybe four other fans in the stands when I went.

But there were still great players who didn't cheat - or at least get caught.. yet.. If it ever comes out that Griffey was cheating, I may die.

Bassmaster said...

Just watch Marea --- Griffey will get voted in the first year he is eligible and then he'll come out and admit he used steroids like 22 years later from his death bed or some shit. Or Bob Costas will get it out of him eventually... that guy has gotten many a grown man to cry like a baby. And you know what, Costas will look EXACTLY THE SAME as he does right now, since the guy apparently doesn't age. Wait, is Bob Costas a robot?

Michael Peterson said...

I'll try not to reiterate here. I have always said that as much as we admonish the Bonds/Big-Mac/Sosa regime (as I will call it), we should recognize the fact that guys like Micky Mantle played at an elite level with what I am sure were epic hangovers. Oh and amphetamines, smoking, womanizing etc. Bud Selig wont admit it, but he knows the 98 home run race saved baseball. My take is that I could take all of the steroids in the world, and I couldn't get a hit off a Single-A pitcher in 500 at bats (much less hit .300, 30HR etc). These are still amazing athletes.

Double G Sports said...

While I do not agree with using steroids, it was part of baseball. The "steroid era" can't just be erased. If you are going to count stats and records from these players (which they should) then you should allow them into the Hall.

Graham Womack said...

Okay, here's a few arguments you could make:

1) Until 2003, there was nothing in the rules to prevent steroid use. As lots of people have said on here, it was simply part of baseball.

2) Bonds' seasons from 2000-2003 are among some of the greatest of all-time offensively.

3) McGwire hit 583 home runs and has a better carer on-base percentage than Willie Mays, Hank Aaron or Al Kaline.

4) Canseco doesn't belong in the Hall of Fame, but it has less to do with steroids than with the fact that he really only had one amazing season -- 1988. Traditionally, the Hall of Fame doesn't reward short bursts of brilliance. If it ever does, Canseco, Denny McLain and Roger Maris all should be enshrined.

DiLo said...

Forgive me if I am repeating the comments before me because I do not have time to read before my boss gets back...

I believe the steroid era, though wrong on many levels, saved the game. It brought people back together to watch our past time. McGwire and Sosa single handedly pulled the game from the gutter with their home run race. The steroid era produced what many watch the game for..Towering home runs and those towering home runs snuck up and made baseball fans out of people. Say what you want about cheating, but where would we be without these guys and their home runs? Would baseball have surged back the way it has? I would file the steroid era under "contributions to the game" because without it, the MLB might still be where it was after that player strike in 95...Left for dead.

IFChris said...

I see a lot of people talking at length about this subject. I guess I'm just not that eloquent, or perhaps I'm too simple-minded, but the bottom line, for me, has always been this:

You cheat, you don't get rewarded. No Hall of Fame, and if I had my way, you wouldn't even be allowed back into the sport you cheated on.

Everything else strikes me as weak justifications, coupled with people looking for a way to forgive the players they follow.

Naive? Perhaps, but I refuse to give into this, "well, everybody cheats, so it's OK" argument. It's pretty black and white to me.

JB* said...

If you read the Baseball Hall of Fame's mission, it says:

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is [...] dedicated to fostering an appreciation of the historical development of baseball and its impact on our culture by collecting, preserving, exhibiting and interpreting its collections for a global audience as well as honoring those who have made outstanding contributions to our national pastime. The Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.

The development of baseball and the impact on culture, and preserving the history.

Steroids, despite whatever revisionist history the BBWA wants to put on the era now, were a part of the game, a part of the history, and many would argue influenced the culture of athletics.

Keeping the users (and alleged users) out is sanctimonious and serves little purpose but to make the writers feel better about themselves than if they'd gotten in the buffet line first.

Sooze said...

So... my paper is due today and I finished the last couple pages thanks to you guys! You're the best.

DiLo said...

I hope we get an A...

Sooze said...

WE GOT AN A!!!!!!! Weeeeeeee! Thanks everyone for all of your input. You're the best. :) High five all around!

Post a Comment