There’s just too much objectivity in baseball these days. Too many places to find thorough and exhaustive statistics, reliable scouting reports, strident analysis, and whatever else is needed.
“Juan Pierre was a great leadoff hitter for the White Sox” a friend might offer, at which point you can pepper him with links, spreadsheets, gifs of Pierre bunting into a ground out. His argument is dead before it hits the ground, when in earlier times it could have gloriously stretched out for days on end.
Thank goodness for the Hall of Fame vote. Between performance-enhancing drugs, accounting for different eras, an arbitrary limit of how many players you can vote for, along with wondering what to do with defensive metrics for players from 20 years ago, and there’s plenty of material for even four genial White Sox bloggers to rip each other apart over.
Behold, the results of the Southside Showdown staff voting:
Steroids, nor completely unverified rumors of steroids, were clearly not an issue for us from any kind of moral nor ethical perspective. Barry Bonds and Jeff Bagwell were the only unanimous choices, though some of that can be attributed to Kevin going Small Hall and only picking seven people, and also more or less going rogue.
Nick, Matt, and I all agreed on Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, and Larry Walker, while Kevin held the torch all by himself for both the art of closing–Lee Smith–and somewhat disgraced members of the 500-home run club–Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa.
I’ll put some of the discussion here and stretch it out to another post:
James: It belongs in the context, just like smaller parks, and expansion might. And how much weight each of those should be given, was thoroughly called into question by Eric Walker assault on the notion of PED’s playing a central role in the offensive explosion.
Because of all that, there should be no great purposeful read-in to Sosa or McGwire being left off of my ballot. I could see McGwire on a future ballot of mine.
Matt Adams: The Bonds/Clemens argument–It’s been addressed pretty well here already, but I agree with the idea that both of these players are Hall of Famers prior to holy-[crap]-how-did-you-do-that-
Still, I’m not one to punish for steroids, much like Nick just said, there has been so much questionable yet unpunished activity over the years that you’d really be forced to rule out plenty of players already in the hallof fame. Punishing guys for the era they played in would have us ruling out Ruth, Cobb and Gehrig because they only played against athletes of similar skin tone. It gets messy fast.
Nick: Yes, it’s cheating, and I’m sure it helps in some sort of negligible way, but it seems hard to prove and identify. I think the home run spikes of say, 1995-2005, can be attributed much more clearly to the rash of smaller parks that were introduced — for example, Coors Field, Chase Field, Arlington, the White Sox renovations — and I think the end of that era coincides rather well with the implementation of Safeco, Target, Petco, Comerica (before they brought the fences back in) etc. etc.
Logically, given what it takes to hit well – squaring up the ball, having clean mechanics, hand-eye coordination, etc. etc. — I always thought that pitchers would benefit more from steroids than hitters. I suppose it may mess with the aging curve in ways that I can’t quite identify. And yeah, guys like Greg Vaughn weren’t mega-talented, but I think we simply had a generation of amazing offensive players and a cycle where the pitching just wasn’t quite as good.
More specifically to this conversation: Bonds is an elite, inner circle Hall of Famer, steroids or no steroids. I think that there are enough players who benefited from using amphetamines and segregation in the Hall that to start banning people simply for steroids as a matter of cause is hypocritical. If you say you don’t want anyone who used any illegal drugs (and you can argue that amphetamines were performance enhancers) in the Hall, then you have to kick out Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays…
Kevin: Obviously the steroid issue doesn’t bother me. At all, actually. People who don’t think players dating back to the beginning of baseball were doing everything and anything to get competitive advantages are naive. That means especially players in the 60’s and 70’s (Hank Aaron, etc.)
To be continued after the lunch hour…