Who’s a cheater and does it matter anymoreDecember 27th, 2012 by terrybenish
This is my hall of fame post and there should be structure and a marshaled argument, but all I can write about at this juncture is what I would call major efforts on the part of very influential baseball writers, members of the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWA). Two august members of that group and influential supporters of analytical efforts Peter Gammons, himself in the Hall of Fame and Joe Posnanski, quickly rehabilitated from his disastrous Joe Paterno project and his unseemly remarks around that mess, have come out strongly in favor of voting in admitted and suspected users of performance enhancement drugs (PEDs) to the Hall of Fame. The basic piece is that these folk’s specific cheating was ill defined as cheating and well shoot, despite doubling their size, look at all their numbers. There are others of course and I encourage you to read about this because it will get you all frothed up.
Now this is not without humor. Let me give you an example that I ran across this week. One BBWA fellow wrote about Sammy Sosa how yes he was a cheater like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, but he corked his bat and put super balls in his bat for crying out loud! Please follow up on this stuff and read about it to be informed. There are a few local voters and you can look them up too and it is easy to write to them and express your thoughts should you have any. Some of these guys enjoy hearing from readers, others do not. None of them feel they are accountable to anyone about their vote or how they got to it. I’m not sure what accountability would be in any case, except for maybe how much readers would pay attention to this vote and future votes or their current coverage of teams.
It is just baseball, correct? But I did bring that up above, to talk about a couple of other former players whose careers suggest they belong in the Hall of Fame.
The first is Joe Jackson: http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/j/jacksjo01.shtml
There have been books and movies about Shoeless Joe Jackson. Without question he is among the top four or five players in the first fifty years of the 20th century. As a member of the Chicago White Sox team that threw the World Series in 1919, he was tried and found innocent fo the charge. The first commissioner of baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was given this job as repayment for finding in favor of MLB in their antitrust suit, banned Joe Jackson and other team mates for life. Purportedly Joe Jackson was a playing fool, illiterate and with a functional IQ that was quite low his slash line during the World Series was .375/.394/.563/.956. Those numbers are above his career numbers. As careers go, he was better than Ty Cobb.
The guy with the most hits in the history of baseball is Pete Rose. 4,256 hits. Most games, most plate appearances and most at bats. Here is where it gets kind of dicy, I mean that should be enough, but in the interest of disclosure and I wrote about this last year, but here it is, he was a good but not great player for the first ten years or so with OPSs above .800 in six of those years. But he plays for twenty four years and in fourteen of those years he has an OPS below .800. He has a career OPS of .784, which is the same as Ichiro.
Terrible defender at second base, third base, left field and first base. 4,256 hits. It is enough.
As a manager he bet on games for his team. As long as cheating no longer matters, he’s got to be let in and I suspect Sammy Sosa does too.