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Baseball goes from good to bad in a heartbeat PDF Print E-mail
Sunday, August 04, 2013 12:00 AM

By JIM METCALFE

Sports Editor

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The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York, inducted three long-dead men the other day: Jacob Ruppert, Hank O’Day and James “Deacon” White.

The fact that they have all been dead for at least 70 years in interesting, to say the least.

The current Baseball Writers Association of America — I am not a member, for those that are interested in such items! — deemed no one worthy of induction this year via the regular route.

As everyone knows by now, some of the leading names — that under different circumstances likely all would have been first-ballot electees — that got rejected were Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.

These are three of the top figures of the Steroids Era and I think — I’m not the only one, by any means — those on the committee made their feelings crystal clear about what was going on in those years and they don’t like it.

Two things leap to mind.

One, the old argument that what these men did was OK because the PEDs they used weren’t illegal in baseball is a bunch of baloney. They were illegal elsewhere, so that is moot. Baseball was in violation of the law, not the other way around.

Steve Howe, who abused cocaine and failed numerous tests, is still eligible to be inducted into Cooperstown — he was banned by Fay Vincent but that was lifted by an independent arbiter in 1992; what a JOKE! — though he never will be.

Back to the current subject.

In essence, the writers “condemned” baseball for putting its head in the sand and acting like the famous “Three Monkeys” — see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil — during this time.

It also has currency with the plans for Major League Baseball to suspend several players, including Alex Rodriguez, for their involvement with the Biogenesis laboratory.

If A-Rod receives the “death penalty” — a lifetime ban from baseball, which supposedly is on the table — will he then be eligible for Cooperstown in five years?

If so, why? After all, isn’t MLB admitting (if the powers-that-be take this step) that what he did violated the integrity of the game, which is why should-be member Pete Rose is not?

You all know my feelings about Pete, so I won’t go into it.

If only he had admitted his gambling problem — his addiction — expressed his deepest regrets and checked himself into rehab far sooner, he’d likely be where he belongs but that isn’t what made him Charlie Hustle, is it?

After all, Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle were banned by Bowie Kuhn in 1983 for taking jobs with casinos in Atlantic — they had no formal ties to baseball anymore — but were reinstated in 1985 by Peter Ueberroth; Ferguson Jenkins was banned in 1980 (by Kuhn) for drug possession but was reinstated by an arbiter later and inducted into the Hall.

You never know.

I know a few Hall-of-Famers, like former teammate Joe Morgan, have come out for Rose’s re-instatement; I know a few, like Jenkins, who believes he’s where he belongs. It would be interesting to poll all the current living members (and any deceased members who had a known opinion one way or the other) — make it by voice vote AND secret ballot and see what their collective opinion is.

I would also like to see the controversy over Shoeless Joe Jackson cleared up once and for all.

He received a lifetime ban for the Black Sox Scandal but for me, is it an eternal ban? For something that to this day is controversial and not clear-cut as to what he did or did not do? Even the research I quickly did for this article was contradictory about what he actually did.

If you want to, make a “wing” regarding players like Rose and Jackson — and whomever else among the “banned” that is Hall-worthy — acknowledging they do belong in but because of serious reasons, they are not. Maybe have no bust, no photos, no other acknowledgement, but both of these guys were among the all-time greats.

Not acknowledging that fact is a “crime”, too, but I suppose that Baseball doesn’t want to recognize cheaters, gamblers, etc.

Ah, don’t get me started down that road!

This will happen when you-know-where freezes over but I can always muse, right?

Oh, by the way — and I did not know this — one of the members of the Black Sox Scandal, Eddie Cicotte, who admitted his involvement but later recanted and was found not guilty at trial. In fact, according to some research I did, they all were. Yet they all were banned for life by then-Commissioner Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

Interesting.

The second thing is that the three men inducted were chosen by the Veterans Committee.

I always wonder how, after all these years, these guys are found “worthy” of being Hall-of-Famers.

Did they add to their stats in any way in the intervening years?

I am not writing that these men don’t actually deserve to be in Cooperstown, just wondering what convinced the Veterans Committee that now was the time.

I would really like to be a fly on the wall when the votes were cast as to the reasons given to include them now as opposed to years ago.

It’s nice that the Hall has “finally” inducted men like Lou Gehrig and Rogers Hornsby — they weren’t officially inducted because of World War II travel restrictions.

 

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