Of Course Barry Bonds Doesn’t Belong In The Hall Of Fame

Buy a ticket, Barry.

Buy a ticket, Barry.

A full complement of baseball’s steroid class is among the 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, so it was predictable that a new round of arguments would surface claiming that it is unfair, illogical, inconsistent or otherwise unseemly to exclude Barry Bonds and others from enshrinement. Predictable but frustrating: the arguments in favor of Bonds are arguments against maintaining ethical values, in baseball, sports, and American society.  It is also an annoying debate to engage in, and I have been engaging in it in various forms for many years, because Bonds’ defenders typically represent themselves as modern, reasonable, and realistic, while anyone making the quaint argument that cheating on a grand scale should earn shame rather than honors is mocked as judgmental, sanctimonious and naïve.  As ever, I am a glutton for punishment, and since otherwise wise and perceptive commentators like NBC Sports’ Craig Calcaterra choose to ally themselves with Bonds, I really am obligated to point out what a corrupt, illogical and unethical position it is.  If I and people like me don’t persist in this, we’ll have cheating approved as a cultural norm before we know what hit us.

Calcaterra has been supporting Bonds as a Hall of Fame candidate for a while now, but the title of his latest essay, “It’s Lunacy To Keep Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Out of the Hall of Fame” is a gauntlet that begs to be picked up.  “Bonds and Clemens,” Craig writes, “ are two players who, in a just world, would be unanimous selections for induction…”  I find this an indefensible, even shocking, statement, both before and after the writer attempts to defend it. In a just world, a member of a profession who achieved his prominence in part by breaking the law and the rules, as well as lying about it, should be accorded the highest honor that profession has!  What an astounding point of view.

For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to leave Clemens out of this, in part because I can see a Hall of Fame voter credibly deciding that there isn’t enough evidence to conclude that The Rocket really did use performance enhancing drugs on the way to forging one of the top five pitching careers of all time, and in part because I suspect Craig of pairing Bonds and Clemens to make his various rationalizations more pallatable than they would be in defense of Bonds alone.  Belief in Roger’s steroid cheating rests entirely on the testimony of a proven liar and slime-ball, his former trainer. MLB’s Mitchell Report sided with the trainer, and I’m inclined to as well, but Clemens’ unfitness for the Hall of Fame, unlike Bonds (and Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and some others), is not an open-and-shut case.

I give credit to Craig for not raising my least favorite of the Bonds defenses, that he has to be regarded as innocent because he has not been “proven guilty.” Calcaterra is a lawyer, and he understands the over-use and misuse of that cliché, as well as how it only applies when “guilty” means “you’re going to jail.” Indeed, he begins by conceding the obvious, that the evidence that Barry Bonds used steroids is overwhelming, which it is.

His first argument, however, is terrible. Under the ironic heading “Baseball Bonafides,” Calcaterra begins by reciting Bonds’ (and Clemens’) impressive list of achievements, which taken at face value show Barry Bonds to be one the best of the best, not just a qualified Hall of Fame baseball player, but an epitome of a Hall of Fame player along with such legends as Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson , Ted Williams and Willie Mays. “Put simply,” Craig says in conclusion, Bonds is an “immortal.” But he’s not-–not if he cheated, not if he achieved his historic status by corrupting his sport and lying to team mates and fans. And, as Calcaterra admits at the outset, this he did. As a result, the fact that Bonds won a record seven Most Valuable Player Awards is irrelevant. He cheated to win some of those awards. He gets no credit for them.  In Bonds’s case, “baseball bonafides” are not bona fide at all.

After this stumbling start, Calcaterra sets out to rebut the most common arguments for keeping Bonds out of the Hall.  The first on his list, Bonds and Clemens may have amazing stats, but those stats were bogus due to their PED use” is countered with this:

Sure, to some extent their statistics were inflated. But by how much? When did Bonds start using? When did Clemens start using? If, as is almost universally agreed-upon, it was during the middle-to-late years of their career, how were they so dominant early on as well?”

Bonds won three MVP awards before most believe that he began using, he points out.  If you stopped Bonds’ career the day before he picked up his first syringe, he’d be first-ballot Hall of Famer, Craig notes. He would have been among the all-time greats “without the juice.”

Conceded, and so what? O.J. would be regarded as an American hero if he hadn’t slaughtered his wife and Ron Goldman. Richard Nixon had an impressive record as President before Watergate, but that breach of ethics, law and duty was sufficient to place his tenure in the White House beyond redemption. Jason Blair and Stephen Glass wrote some great articles that weren’t fabricated or plagiarized. In what other field is cheating treated as minor if everyone agrees that you really didn’t need to cheat? Rich people pull financial scams because they are greedy: have you ever heard a Bernie Madoff defended with the argument that his cheating wasn’t so bad because he would have made plenty of money without it?  Can you imagine a gambler, caught with an extra ace up his sleeve, getting away with the defense that it shouldn’t matter because he was a better poker player than anyone else and was going to win anyway? If a brilliant student cheats and is caught, he is punished the same as a borderline student who cheats to keep his scholarship, and that is as it should be. Bonds, most believe, was greedy for success, money and fame. He wasn’t willing to decline with age like normal players; he didn’t want to start fading in his late 30’s, like virtually every other baseball player who ever lived; he wanted to keep earning millions of dollars. Calcaterra treats this as a point in Bonds’ favor, a neat piece of rationalization judo. Yes, Bonds was already a great player without cheating, but a career based on his legitimate and natural talents, a career that most of his contemporaries only could dream about, wasn’t enough for him. So cheated to have more. There is nothing admirable about this, or relevant to the price Bonds should pay for cheating to achieve greater prominence in a competitive sport.

“..The E in PEDs stands for enhancing, not creating,” Calcaterra writes, “and thus one cannot ignore the fact that Bonds and Clemens were unique and historic talents who, even if the final tallies on their stat sheets should be somewhat discounted, clearly would have been among the all-time greats without the juice.” This is a straw man argument. Nobody seriously disputes that Bonds’ talent came out of his genes and not a bottle, and that it was remarkable. Would Craig argue that Lance Armstrong, despite his decade of engineering an elaborate and self-aggrandizing fraud that has left his sport in tatters, should be enshrined in a cycling Hall of Fame? Presumably so. It is very possible that Armstrong would have won a lot of races without his PED use, but because he cheated, we correctly regard his entire career as tainted. That’s what the penalty is for cheating, in sports, in school, in life.

Craig Calcaterra has an answer for the penalty issue, and it is this:

“Cheating is wrong, no question. But Hall of Fame voting is not a rule-enforcement mechanism or a court of law. That’s the job of the Joint Drug Program agreed upon between the league and the union. If someone breaks the drug rules and gets caught and gets punished, it’s up to the league to punish them, not baseball writers who comprise the electorate.”

Craig could not have thought this through. The Hall of Fame has no right to punish Bonds for cheating, because it’s not an enforcement body? I see. So getting back to O.J., if he applies for a job as, say, a high school girls basketball coach, the school shouldn’t penalize him for the fact that it is overwhelmingly likely that the Juice is a double murderer, because that was someone else’s job, and they didn’t do it. Nonsense. Conduct has consequences. Killing people means that employers won’t trust you. Cheating means that places that honor athletes don’t want you. The Hall of Fame has every right to decide who is and isn’t worthy of being honored there.  It isn’t kicking Bonds out of baseball, or putting him in prison. It isn’t punishing Bonds at all, if it judges him unworthy. It is enforcing its own standards, which it has every right to do, by not giving him benefits, honors and privileges despite conduct that should preclude them.

Next, Craig stoops to an unholy cross between three rationalizations, the “Favorite Child Excuse” (where one points out to a critic that some individual the critic admires or favors has engaged in similar or worse conduct), “They are just as bad,” where the fact that others have engaged in misconduct is raised as an argument for ignoring misconduct by someone else, and “the Compliance Dodge,” where one argues that since there is no rule or law against clearly wrongful conduct, the conduct is acceptable:

“The Hall of Fame has long welcomed cheaters with open arms, and no current rule says that a cheater, be he a drug cheater or otherwise, can’t be allowed in.”

The first part of the sentence is misleading. Some of those accepted into the Hall engaged in conduct that some would call cheating, or that would be regarded as cheating today. No player that I can identify would have “cheater” mentioned high on his list of characteristics as a player or manager, or was regarded as a cheater while he was active to the extent that Barry Bonds was. As I have written in an essay published a couple of years ago in  “The Hardball Times Annual,” cheating in baseball is along a spectrum, with a lot of gray area between true cheating, culturally approved tactics that are not regarded as cheating within the game by tradition or practice, and gamesmanship. (I’ll e-mail anyone a file of the essay who requests it.) In addition, baseball, like football, began as a much rougher, less codified game in which chicanery of various kinds were not only encouraged but admired. “Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes in an effort to maim opposing players who would dare try to tag him out,” says Calcaterra, but that was not against the rules, nor was physical intimidation regarded as cheating, although many (though not all) felt it was “dirty” play. There is no comparison between Cobb’s furious style and Bond’s artificial mutation. The rest of Calcaterra’s support for “welcoming cheaters with open arms” is pure “everybody did it” stuff—but everybody didn’t do it, and everybody definitely didn’t do steroids.

It is funny—there was very little made of pitcher Gaylord Perry’s occasional use of the illegal spitball when he was being considered for the Hall of Fame. Everyone knew that Perry used his reputation for resorting to the pitch as psychological warfare (it is not cheating to make a player worry that you might be cheating), and that his 300+ wins were the result of his superb command of his legal pitches, not the spitball. Perry’s admission to the Hall has only begun to be challenged as Bonds defenders have began searching for evidence that the Hall of Fame “welcomed cheaters with open arms.” When Perry was caught throwing spitballs, he was thrown out of the game. And for cultural reasons, perhaps related to the fact that there was a period in baseball when some pitchers were allowed to throw spitballs and others were not, pitchers like Whitey Ford, Don Sutton and Perry sneaking in an occasional spitball was regarded more as evidence of guile than corruption. I might not have voted for Perry based on his spitball use, but the fact that a few pitchers made the Hall despite occasionally throwing an illegal pitch hardly paves the way for admitted steroid cheats.

The second part of Craig’s sentence, however, that no rule specifically excludes cheaters, is legalistic rationalization at its worst. There is no rule, I suspect, because “cheating” is such a broad and, as I just noted, sometimes vague concept, that such a rule would be a nightmare. Nor are rules necessary for voters to make rational decisions about kinds of conduct that shouldn’t be tolerated in places of honor. There is no rule that says that killing a player on the field would disqualify someone for Hall enshrinement, but I have no doubt that this is the case. Carl Mays, a pitcher whose 208-126 record over a 15 year career makes him the equal of several Hall of Fame pitchers, may well have made the Hall had he not thrown the pitch that accidentally ended the life of  Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman, still the only player killed by a pitched ball. I also am certain that had Juan Marichal, one of the greatest of all pitchers, killed Dodgers catcher John Roseboro when he swung a bat at his head instead of just giving him a concussion, Marichal never would have made the Hall either.  (Talk about moral luck!) No, Craig, no rule says that the Hall can’t accept a player who distorted his body, competition, pennant races, games, the record book, the careers of other players and the game itself by pharmaceutical cheating. That doesn’t mean it should.

Calcaterra’s  next argument is that “there are PED users in the Hall of Fame already.” This is really two arguments, one that is worthless, and the other that has some bite. The argument that one or more players already enshrined in the Hall of Fame may have used steroids while playing is ethically and logically bankrupt, the equivalent of claiming that because some criminals get away with their crimes, it is unfair to arrest, prosecute or punish anyone whose crimes are detected.  A secret and undetected steroid-user does not create a precedent for honoring a known and proven steroid-user.  If it is discovered that a previously enshrined player was in fact a steroid cheat, or threw games, or poisoned opposing team members, kick that player out. Don’t admit more like him.

Craig’s better point about “PED users” in the Hall of Fame is that amphetamine use was standard, rampant, widespread and accepted within the game for decades. I won’t argue that amphetamines don’t qualify as “performance enhancing drugs,” but I do insist that while they were a routine part of clubhouse culture (as they were in show business, academia, business and other professions, much as  “energy drinks” are today), amphetamine use was not regarded as cheating by anyone. The practice was unhealthy; it paved the way for a larger drug culture that helped steroids gain a foothold in the game in the 90’s; it was illegal; and the game was correct, if inexcusably tardy, to begin testing players for amphetamines as it does now. Nonetheless, it is distinguishable from steroid use, which unlike “greenies” was hidden from other players by users like Bonds, because they knew that it constituted significant misconduct and a breach of the game’s integrity.

What follows is this jaw-dropper from Craig:

“The point here isn’t that two wrongs make a right. The point is that the Hall of Fame has never cared about wrongs in the first place.  Why it should start caring about them now is beyond me.”

Why should the institution charged with honoring baseball players and designating the participants in baseball’s history most worthy of memory, praise, emulation and fame care about wrongs? Every institution should care about values. Every individual should care about values. Every organization and activity in society should care about, strive for, encourage and enforce the very best values in everything they do. Even if Craig Calcaterra is right that the Hall of Fame has not done this previously—and he is not right—arguing that it should not defies all reason.

He is not right, because the Hall of Fame has rightly refused to admit to the Hall outstanding players whose misconduct embarrassed and harmed the game and its image. The Hall could choose to admit all-time hit leader Pete Rose, for example, despite his gambling on baseball while managing the Cincinnati Reds. It could admit Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was, after all, acquitted of throwing World Series games as part of a gambling conspiracy. It hasn’t done so because, among other reasons, they disgraced and harmed the game that the Hall of Fame exists to promote. So did Barry Bonds.

Craig’s brief for Bonds peters out with two weak assertions. The Hall of Fame ballot’s character clause reads,

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”

Calcaterra makes the novel argument that the character clause shouldn’t matter because of its “legislative history”—-apparently it was originally added to the Hall’s qualification standards to give borderline candidates a boost to membership if they had shown exemplary character, such as in military service. Nevertheless, that is not how the clause reads, and there have been over seven decades in which the Hall honchos could have altered the character clause’s language to specifically say that being a cheater or otherwise despicable and unsportsmanlike would never outweigh a strong statistical record. Why wasn’t the clause changed? Because being admitted to the Hall is a great honor, and the implication, embedded in the character clause, that those enshrined in the Hall of Fame are admirable human beings as well as outstanding players makes it a greater honor. Admitting Barry Bonds, in contrast, will make it a lesser honor. Or no honor at all.

Calcaterra makes the anti-ethical argument that since there are some other less-than-admirable members of the Hall it is inconsistent to keep out an epic cheater like Barry Bonds. I’m willing to discuss removing some current and even long-standing members of the Hall, if it can be shown that they did as much harm to the game as Barry Bonds, or even half as much harm. I don’t think there are any.

Craig limps home arguing how “ill-equipped baseball writers are at judging a player’s character. Indeed, the presence of all of those bad seeds shows how ill-equipped they are.” This is a “who are you to judge?” argument in an absurd context. The lowliest idiot should be able to figure out what is wrong with what Bonds did, how it corrupted other players and the sport, while enriching him. The fact that they are ill-equipped to do their joba as electors is no argument for them not trying to do it better, and in Bonds’ case, it’s not hard at all.

To oppose Bonds’ candidacy,Craig writes, “one must make a moral or ethical case based on [his] drug use and the voter’s opinion of their character. And that case will almost certainly be made from a great distance and with imperfect information.”  To the contrary, forming a conclusive condemnation of Barry Bonds’ character, the fact of his cheating, its impact and wrongfulness, is a spectacularly straightforward exercise, clear, necessary and damning.

Admission to the Hall of Fame is an honor. Barry Bonds dishonored baseball, and it would be lunacy for baseball to honor him.

24 thoughts on “Of Course Barry Bonds Doesn’t Belong In The Hall Of Fame

  1. Well, that about covers it! Very nicely done, Jack. The last paragraph should be enough to settle this argument. For those who require more, I will be referring them to this post.

  2. You really should stop writing about Ethics and Baseball’s steroids era. Calcaterra’s column is bad, and you rightly point out a number of his rationalizations and errors, but you also go off into rationalization territory repeatedly. You don’t like steroids. You think they ruined the game, but you give similar behavior a pass. Greenies and steroids are only distinguishable by the media culture at the times they were popular. Greenies were in open secret that the media didn’t discuss. McGuire was the turning point here. His Andro was openly displayed in his locker, and instead of ignoring it, the changed media turned it into a story. When the media changed, the players using substances had to change what they did as well. There’s no need to question the players motives in hiding their materials. They’d get lambasted for it if it becomes public (rightly or wrongly), so they had to hide them. There were always players who thought greenies were improper… it just wasn’t made public by the media.

    Similar errors are throughout your piece. For instance:

    “Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes in an effort to maim opposing players who would dare try to tag him out,” says Calcaterra, but that was not against the rules, nor was physical intimidation regarded as cheating, although many (though not all) felt it was “dirty” play.

    Here you’re using the “it wasn’t illegal” rationalization and the “many (though not all) felt it was ‘dirty'” comment applies equally to steroids. You follow that up by just stating there is no comparison…but in lieu of reasons the comparison is wrong, you just use adjectives to show your approval and disapproval of behaviors… even using the silly “artificial” lie. Steroids are no more “artificial” than sports drinks.

    Do I think Bonds should be in the hall of fame? The one we have: yes. The one I’d like to exist: no. I don’t think you’re decoupling those ideas.

    • “You give similar behavior a pass. Greenies and steroids are only distinguishable by the media culture at the times they were popular. Greenies were in open secret that the media didn’t discuss.”

      I do not. I do say they are materially distinguishable, and what matters in cheating, always, is whether the culture itself regards it as cheating. For example, students taking amphetamines for exams is not regarded as cheating.

      “Open secret” perhaps,as far as the public was concerned, but just open in the game itself—unlike steroids. There is no inconsistency. In addition, at best the greenies argument is another “we made a mistake, so we have to keep making it” rationalization.

      “McGuire was the turning point here. His Andro was openly displayed in his locker, and instead of ignoring it, the changed media turned it into a story.”

      No, no, no. Andro isn’t the PED keeping McGwire out of the hall—it wasn’t banned or illegal when he used it, and wasn’t regarded as a steroid at the time (it acts like a steroid, which is why it was banned in 2004). It was just a bodybuilding supplement. As for greenies, I’ve followed baseball obsessively for decades, and I never heard of a player who opposed their use as cheating when they were routine in the clubhouse. Some just didn’t want to use them, like I don’t use 5 Hour Energy boosts. Even if there were, the point is that they has access without stigma or risk, meaning that they were not unfairly disadvantaged or forced to do something they regarded as cheating. In short, nothing at all like steroids.

      You are stretching hard and ineffectively to find flaws that aren’t there. My explanation of Cobb’s tactics isn’t a rationalization at all. Baseball was still evolving, and Cobb was an outspoken advocate of a tough, no-holds barred game with dead balls and guts. He was a leader in the sport, and such conduct was an argument by him, not a violation—and nothing was hidden The same with Cap Anson’s various “dirty” tactics, like jumping back and forth to opposite sides of the plate while the pitcher was winding up. The game decided that it didn’t want to be played that way. But that doesn’t mean either man was cheating, or a cheat, as Craig claims. That’s the point.

      You really want to argue over “artificial”? Go ahead. I regard an extreme physique with strength levels that can’t be created without ingestion of metabolism and body-chemistry altering drugs (that have dangerous side-effects) “artificial,” just as I regard 44 DD breast implants artificial and “Blade Runners” “legs” (and performances accomplished with them) as artificial. I think this is reasonable and fair, recognizing that there is a spectrum and we could call glasses and Lasix artificial too. There is nothing illogical about drawing the line at drugs that physically alter the body, while leaving training methods, pain-killers and stimulants on the other side, as long as everyone has access to them.

      “Do I think Bonds should be in the hall of fame? The one we have: yes.”
      This makes no sense. Putting him in unfairly diminishes the honor to the players who deserve it, which, by the way, is why it will never happen. Craig’s argument to the contrary, it materially changes the meaning of the Hall. In my longer essay for HBT, I said that I would have no problem with a bifurcated Hall, one celebrating the history of the game, and another wing devoted to the heroes of the game. The reason THAT will never happen is that people like you will muddy the water, by making false equivalencies between, say, Babe Ruth’s drinking and Barry Bonds’ cheating.

      • materially distinguishable
        and what matters in cheating, always, is whether the culture itself regards it as cheating.

        And your evidence that steroids were considered cheating in “the culture” and greenies weren’t is…what?

        “Open secret” perhaps,as far as the public was concerned, but just open in the game itself—unlike steroids. There is no inconsistency.

        That’s exactly what I said. The only difference is the media attention.

        In addition, at best the greenies argument is another “we made a mistake, so we have to keep making it” rationalization.

        I’m not pro-steroids because greenies were considered okay. I’m pointing out the inconsistency in arguing that “steroid users should be kept out of hall” and “greenies usage shouldn’t matter to the hall”

        Mcguire
        I never said that Andro was keeping Mcguire out of the hall. I was pointing to the turning point in the media discourse.

        Differentiation between greenies and steroids

        And there was no player complaining about steroids in the game until the media made a hallabaloo about it. If the media had done the same for greenies, I submit that the same thing would have occurred. The only difference here is the media.

        Even if there were [players who thought greenies were cheating], the point is that [those players] ha[d] access without stigma or risk, meaning that [those players] were not unfairly disadvantaged or forced to do something they regarded as cheating.

        This doesn’t make sense. Yes, they had access without risk, but how in the world does that lead to the conclusion. If greenies were cheating, then usage of them was an unfair advantage. Anyone playing had to choose between unfairly being disadvantaged or doing something they saw as cheating.

        Cobb rationalization

        “…but that was not against the rules, nor was physical intimidation regarded as cheating, although many (though not all) felt it was “dirty” play.”

        That absolutely is saying the behavior was okay because it wasn’t illegal. You may have had other reasoning you could have used, but you absolutely used the rationalization I called you on.

        New Cobb comment

        You’ve switched to a new frame. You’re differentiating Cobb because his behavior was obvious to all. Okay… but that makes greenies cheating, as the behavior was NOT known to all.

        Artificial silliness
        There is nothing illogical about drawing the line at drugs that physically alter the body, while leaving training methods, pain-killers and stimulants on the other side, as long as everyone has access to them

        Pain killers and stimulants are drugs that physically alter the body. Steroids, on their own, don’t build muscle; they allow for more rapid training then can normally be performed…just like pain killers and stimulants. So…where’s your line?

        Bonds in the hall we have

        Bonds was never punished by major league baseball for cheating. After the fact rationalization that he should have been punished is sour grapes. Say Bonds had been given a 50 game suspension in 2001, and hit 40 homers a year the rest of his career. He’d be a first ballot hall of famer. Bonds’ stats show him as a first ballot hall of famer, and if he cheated for some of those stats? Well, unless baseball goes back and removes his stats, they’re still there. Gaylord Perry is a good example, but not how you wrote. He doesn’t get credit for games he was tossed out of and didn’t pitch, but, as you said, we don’t question how many of his wins were assisted by a spitball. The same should go for Bonds. Seriously, what’s the difference? Cheating with the spitball was considered “wily” cheating by some (and just “cheating” by others) while cheating with uncatchable steroids is considered “cheating” by some, but “wily cheating” by others? Is it just what you think the emphasis should be?

        bifurcated hall
        What are you making the delineator? Behavior related to field performance (steroids, greenies, illegal spitballs)? Behavior unrelated to field performance (racism, womanizing, being a complete non-hero)?

        There are too many possible distinctions, and we’d have to make all sorts of weird judgment calls (should a racist from the 1900s be treated differently than a racist from the 1950s and one from the 1980s?) I say, put everyone in who’s performance deserves such, but explain their various issues.

        • 1. “And your evidence that steroids were considered cheating in “the culture” and greenies weren’t is…what?” Books about the Greenie period and players interviewed confirm that use was open, approved by the club and facilitated by the trainers, club doctors and managers. Nobody thought they were cheating or wrong. As Canseco’s two books show, the use of steroids was surreptitious, hidden from managers and other players….just as it is in gyms today.

          2. “I’m not pro-steroids because greenies were considered okay. I’m pointing out the inconsistency in arguing that “steroid users should be kept out of hall” and “greenies usage shouldn’t matter to the hall”

          It should matter to the Hall NOW. I doubt any player who used greenies pre-2004 thought for one second that it would be a Hall of Fame issue. No player who used steroids, I’m betting, didn’t assume that their use would. Why else would they hide it? What was McGwire ashamed of? Why does Bonds keep lying?

          3. “I never said that Andro was keeping Mcguire out of the hall. I was pointing to the turning point in the media discourse.”

          Then I don’t see the relevance. Nobody suggested, after the Andro flap, that McGwire had cheated…until his steroid use was implicated later.

          4. “You’re differentiating Cobb because his behavior was obvious to all.”
          No, I’m differentiating him because Craig is dead wrong that what Cobb was doing was considered cheating in the wild and wolly period that was Cobb’s era.

          5. “Pain killers and stimulants are drugs that physically alter the body.”
          I’m sorry, but I think this is sophistry. The line is clear; you don’t care to acknowledge it.

          6. The “the stats are still there” argument is nothing. So what? The 1919 World Series stats are still there; Pete Rose’s stats are still there. Baseball has no way to retroactively fix mistaken or tainted stats. That’s just one more of the ways Bonds harmed the game. He would be a first ballot Hall electee if he hadn’t cheated. His four year run when he was 37 is a screaming indictment. Thnaks to the union and legal impediments, baseball had no way to stop Bonds from playing. What does that have to do with whether he deserves to be honored? He got away with millions and records. We don’t have to honor him too.

          7. Regarding the bi-furcated Hall, you essentially rephrase what I already said.

          • 1. Anything that refutes my idea that the difference was media reaction to andro? When greenies started getting reported on, they went underground.

            2. The difference? As I’ve said repeatedly, it’s the media making a huge deal out of Mcguire’s andro. That’s the difference.

            3. Incorrect.

            http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/baseball/mlb/news/1998/08/22/mcgwire_supplement/

            When you go back 13 years, we’d really need to go to libraries and microfiche to find a full account of what people were saying, but here’s Sports Illustrated and the New York times suggesting Andro is cheating. I had a handy reference for for remembering this as I graduated high school in 1999, before non-andro allegations were raised against McGwire. I had numerous discussions on whether or not McGwire and Sosa were cheats while sitting in classrooms.

            4. “Baseball was still evolving, and Cobb was an outspoken advocate of a tough, no-holds barred game with dead balls and guts. He was a leader in the sport, and such conduct was an argument by him, not a violation—and nothing was hidden.”

            I didn’t ever say that Cobb was a cheat. Just that your argument separating Cobb from Bonds was bunk. Because of that, I assumed your response was along the lines of your separation of Bonds and Cobb, and the quoted above passage says the difference is that Cobb was open about it and Bonds wasn’t. If Bonds had openly used all his substances and there were battles over whether they should be allowed or not, then Bonds (by your logic), would be fine. The difference you appeared to claim was openness.

            5. It’s not sophistry to point out that your argument is based on a false understanding of what the materials are. You differentiated based on a couple factors, but those couple factors are the same for both sides of the line. Those factors, that you claimed are delineators, are complete bollux. If you can’t define a rational reason for your line, then its not rational.

            That you failed to call out any actual sophistry makes it look like you aren’t able to refute my point. This is SMP/texagg territory.

            6. I wasn’t suggesting that stats should be retroactively removed, just that people are judged on the stats that exist. Your mention of the 1919 World Series doesn’t go against that. Some of the players were banned from baseball, but not all of them, and the unbanned players stats still count for them. Pete Rose is a red herring, as his gambling wouldn’t have improved his stats.

            I was noting that Bonds’ early stats are first ballot hall of famer. That his latter stats are tainted does not change his former stats. As I said before, if Bonds had been suspended for steroids and then just had his prior production, you wouldn’t be trying to keep Bonds out. Your complaint is really with the union and the process, not with Bonds. You are punishing him for taking advantage of the rules as they were written. For other players, you celebrate or playdown such “cheating”. Why not the same for Bonds? Because you don’t like what he did and because he broke records.

            7. What now? I pointed out that if the differences are undefined, we’ll be in the same place, and if they are defined, they’ll be crap. It was against your assumption that false equivalencies would be the problem, when the idea itself is unworkable.

            • 1-3. Honest to Pete, I don’t see any tipping points in Andro. It was an over the counter body-building supplement that any player could buy and use without breaking laws, baseball rules or regulations. MCGwire wasn’t cheating to use it. I don’t see what a Times paragraph in the Health section proves, when it says that criticism of McGwire is garbage.

              4-5 In sum, you don’t see an obvious line that the majority of baseball analysts DO see. A drug that combined with weight training gives an athlete strength and endurance that cannot be obtained with out said drug is materially different in both its impact and philosophical underpinnings to pain-killers and stimulants.

              6. This is just a mind-blowing argument. You don’t put half a career in the Hall of Fame. Bonds, unlike every other player who ever played, got dramatically better to an absurd degree at the very point when other players start declining. Those four seasons are what gave him his all-time records. It should be obvious that he shouldn’t benefit from those years in which his cheating was blatant and defiant. He already has, of course—in money, in celebrity, in records that he never would have otherwise— but the fair and responsible attitude of the Hall voters should be disgust, not, “well, its too late to do anything about it now!”

    • I have to note that if the Cobb example is your best effort to illustrate my “errors,” you got nothin’.

      Cobb’s aggressive base-running style was NOT cheating in his era, just an extreme exampel of the kind of play that was accepted. Accounts of the day show that it was routine, for example, for the first baseman to throw a hip into a runner rounding the bag, to throw him off stride. That’s interference today, but not then. Honus Wagner was known, on occasion, to place a tag at second right in a player’s teeth. We would call it dirty—they would say that this was how the game was played. Cobb was not regarded as a cheater, nor was he cheating. The analogy is the head-hunting tactics of pitchers like Bob Gibson. Pitchers can’t throw at batters like that today…it’s considered unethical and to some extent illegal. But Gibson was just playing the game.

      • The comment about Cobb you wrote was a rationalization. And you backed it up by…well, stating it with begging the question adjectives. I didn’t claim that Cobb cannot be differentiated from Bonds, just that you failed to make a valid argument for it. You don’t make that kind of error regularly…unless you’re talking about baseball. Then those errors crop up all over the place.

        • I have no idea what you’re talking about. How is what I wrote about Cobb a rationalization? He was not cheating. Nobody thought he was cheating. It wasn’t possible to cheat by rough play in those days. I wrote that what Cobb did “was not against the rules, nor was physical intimidation regarded as cheating, although many (though not all) felt it was “dirty” play. There is no comparison between Cobb’s furious style and Bond’s artificial mutation.” Which is 100% true. The substances Bonds was using were already illegal, on or off the baseball field. What Cobb was doing was practiced by many others, and was considered within the rules AND the law (implied consent), though some regarded it as dirty play, just as some felt that ARod making a Toronto player drop a fly by calling him off the ball as a baserunner was dirty play, though no rule prohibited it then or now.

            • In a sport its more complex than that, and the article I alluded to in the post went into exquisite detail on this. In a sport something can be “legal” in the sense that there is no rule against it, and still cheating if the culture of the game has come to regard it as such. For example, throwing an intentionally scuffed ball is illegal, but a pitcher isn’t regarded as cheating if he continues to throw a scuffed ball that the umpire has neglected to throw out. If the pitcher defaces the ball with sandpaper that’s cheating, even if that ball is no more defaced than one that he’s been throwing because the umpire wasn’t paying attention. Cobb’s spike intimidation was legal, it was accepted, it was within the wide range of conduct in the game that players engaged in, and not cheating. There are no rationalizations that I can see.

              • Okay. Fully explained it looks good. In the post, it still looks like a rationalization to me.

                I thought earlier (but failed to write) that some of the issue might be that you know the topic of baseball so in depth that you unconciously take shortcuts when writing about it, and your shortcuts aren’t always logical on their own.

  3. I agree that Bonds shouldn’t be in Cooperstown but where do we draw the line on who should or shouldn’t be? Oh that’s right it’s not our decision to make . It’s the people who vote who get to decide that .

    Oh by the way , Ty Cobb sharpening his cleats to injure other players is a myth . Baseball players sharpened their cleats becuase dull cleats are useless .

    • What now? Dully cleats work just as well as sharpened ones. Moreover, Cobb wasn’t secret about his intentions. The cleats were used as a weapon to keep fielders from being able to easily tag him out and get double plays: “The base paths belonged to me, the runner. The rules gave me the right. I always went into a bag full speed, feet first. I had sharp spikes on my shoes. If the baseman stood where he had no business to be and got hurt, that was his fault.”

      And here’s Cobb talking about trying to injure a pitcher: “[Boston Red Sox pitcher Hub Leonard] would aim bullets at your head, left handed to boot… I dragged a bunt… which the first baseman was forced to field. Leonard sprinted for first to take the throw and saw that I was after him. He wouldn’t have been safe that day if he’d scrambled into the top bleachers. I ignored the bag-since I was already out-and dove feet first right through the coaching box. He managed to duck, but…the escape was close enough medicine for him. He never threw another beanball at me.”

      • Dull cleats are more likely to bring grass and dirt back with them when you play . Sharp cleats dont so they dont work as well.

        My point wasnt that he didnt try to hurt indiviuals. My point was that he sharpening his cleats to do so isnt the evidence that he had bad intentions as all ball players use to sharpen their cleats.

        • The different between dulled cleats and sharp cleats is nonexistent. There is a different between thin ended cleats and thick cleats, but that doesn’t imply sharpening helps.

          The quotes show that that the sharp spikes were, at least in part, seen to Cobb as weaponry.

          • If you dont take the edge off the cleat and keep it square and clean it grabs more dirt and grass period. Its not like a soccer cleat where it is pointed.

            • Baseball spikes, are, by definition, pointed. You need to compare sharpened points to rounded off points, not a different type of cleats to spiked cleats.

  4. Pingback: Of Course Barry Bonds Doesn't Belong In The Hall Of Fame | Ethics ... | Sports Ethics: Smith, Martin | Scoop.it

  5. You’re insinuating Bonds was the only one taking PED’s, or one of only a few, therefore he was cheating. We act as though these big names were the only ones doing it, but it is simply not true. There are a lot of names in the Mitchell Report. When you say “it was hidden from other players by Bonds” this is just not true, as if Bonds had this secret to success and no one else could use it. You know who was the 2nd most used name? Paul Lo Duca. He was accused of pushing steroids to teammates. You either missed this part of the report or didn’t care because you didn’t know who he was. But no one else cared either because he’s just some average catcher and everyone was wowed by the Clemens stuff. It’s speculated, because there was no drug testing like there is now, that more than 50% of the league was on something.

    Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson absolutely could not be voted into the HOF. The MLB placed them on a list of ineligible players for the HOF. So, no, voters don’t have a choice to vote them in. Which brings up another point: they were deemed ineligble. Have any of these alleged/confessed PED users been banned by the MLB for inclusion in the HOF?… No? So the BBWAA members are the ones you trust to make that decision above the MLB? Too many of those writers are clearly irresponsible with their vote, either sending blank ballots this year, or none at all, or excluding players from being a first-ballot HOF’er but then voting them in by 90% on their 2nd ballot.

    And as far as your “gray area” of cheating, spit balls and cutting the ball were never a gray area. Just because so many pitchers put something on the ball and it was “accepted” by some people does not mean it is a gray area. There are pitchers in the HOF that put an illegal substance on the ball. Does that not directly compromise the integrity of the game? There are alcoholics, racists, segragationists in the HOF. The character clause was absolutely added to grant access to players of great character with lesser statistics, not to keep players out. You want to hide behind this stupid clause because it’s an easy answer then fine, but don’t act like it is not completely incosistent with players already in the HOF.

    It’s the baseball HOF for the best players. That’s all.

    • Wrong, illogical and unethical from start to finish.

      “You’re insinuating Bonds was the only one taking PED’s,or one of only a few,”
      I insinuate no such thing.

      “…therefore he was cheating.”
      He was obviously cheating. If you don’t think he was cheating, you are living in a parallel universe. Using steroids was cheating. How many others might have been cheating is irrelevant.

      We act as though these big names were the only ones doing it, but it is simply not true….etc.
      As I said..no, I don’t and it’s irrelevant anyway. The topic is ethics. You don’t know what you’re talking about. We’re also taking about the Hall of Fame. Lousy players who cheated were still cheaters, but they didn’t get much out of it, and there’s no way to punish them now. I’d love to know how you think this is a valid rebuttal of anything.

      “It’s speculated, because there was no drug testing like there is now, that more than 50% of the league was on something.”
      It’s speculated that you’re six years old. What does this have to do with anything?

      “Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson absolutely could not be voted into the HOF. The MLB placed them on a list of ineligible players for the HOF.”
      Wrong. The HOF isn’t run by MLB, and the trustees could choose to allow them in if they wanted to. They shouldn’t choose to.

      “And as far as your “gray area” of cheating, spit balls and cutting the ball were never a gray area.”
      They are a gray area because they were 1) once legal and 2) once legal for some and not for others and 3) imbedded in the culture of the game as a result.

      There are pitchers in the HOF that put an illegal substance on the ball. Does that not directly compromise the integrity of the game?
      I addressed this. Did you read what you purport to be commenting on? I said it did compromise the integrity; I said that I wouldn’t have voted for Gaylord (or Sutton) as a result. I also sadi that the fact that one of more unworthy players may have snuck in to the HOF is no argument to vote for another.
      .
      “There are alcoholics, racists, segregationists in the HOF.”

      This is a stupid, lazy argument that I have addressed many times, actually several stupid arguments. None of them have anything to do with cheating. Alcoholism isn’t a character issue, its a disease. Baseball was played when everyone was a racist and a segregationist. You can’t claim someone has bad character because of the era in which he played and the region where he was born. Idiotic analogy, but a popular one.

      “The character clause was absolutely added to grant access to players of great character with lesser statistics, not to keep players out.”
      Also addressed. This was Craig’s argument. The words in the clause say what the words say. There have been decades for the Hall to narrow the meaning of the words, and they haven’t done it, meaning that it wants the broader meaning, whatever the “original intent” was. Terrible argument.

      “It’s the baseball HOF for the best players. That’s all.”:
      Cheaters aren’t the best players, by definition.

      Thanks…right at the deadline, one of the worst reasoned,laziest and hackneyed comments of the year!

      • It’s kind of ridiculous to just blurt out “It’s speculated that you’re six years old.” Using insults when someone disagrees with you? This response coming from someone who writes about ethics. Pretty unwarranted reaction with all the “worst reasoned” “terrible” “stupid.”

        “Thanks…right at the deadline, one of the worst reasoned,laziest and hackneyed comments of the year” you’re welcome, jerk off. Fuck you.

        • Classy debating technique there, pal.

          I gave you credit for having the perception to comprehend that “It’s speculated that you’re six years old” was intended to show how lame and intellectually dishonest “it’s speculated..” is. I could have said “It’s speculated that you’re a stegosaurus”—maybe you would have got the point then. Since I know you aren’t a six year old, and wasn’t speculating that you were, it should have been clear that no insult was intended.

          I have been reading the same flawed rationalizations for excusing Bonds for nearly ten years. I don’t ask much—just not to have the same rationalizations regurgitated in response to a post that again addressed them, as if they hadn’t been mentioned at all. 1) That’s rude 2) it wastes my time and 3) it creates the obligation to say something persuasive and well-reasoned. You didn’t.

          It was a terribly reasoned comment. It was lazy. Your comparison to alcoholics is stupid, as well as ignorant.
          If you are going to come on an ethics blog and defend cheating, you had better have a brilliant argument, or you will get nothing but an unrestrained response from me. Your thinking marks you as an ethics corrupter, and I was accurate, if not kind, in my description.

          And “Fuck you” gets you banned here, jerk.

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