Hall of Shame

by John Furgele

The BBWAA made Jim Rice wait and wait until finally voting him into the Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 2009.  Maybe that’s a good thing, because in the wake of the steroid scandal that has rocked and is continuing to rock baseball, Rice’ generation may be looked at more favorably in the future.

Think about the Hall of Shame.  Mark McGwire and his 583 home runs is not even close to getting in.  To me, McGwire was way too one dimensional and was a virtual no-show in the postseason and is not worthy of induction despite his awesome home run numbers.  In his final season of 2001, a supposedly drug free McGwire batted just .187 with 29 home runs and 64 RBI, numbers that would make Rob Deer proud.  In the NLDS versus Arizona, he went 1 for 11 and struck out six times.  The Cardinals lost Game 5 2-1 to the eventual world champion Diamondbacks.  If McGwire gets a couple more hit, even one home run, then perhaps the Cards move on.

Roger Clemens, the disgraced pitcher with sure fire Hall of Fame numbers is on the verge of facing prison time.  Do you think he’s getting in?  It appears as if the Rocket has misremembered plenty regarding his role in the use of performance enhancing drugs. 

Sammy Sosa has never failed a drug test, has never had his name linked to renegade trainers, but he has always flunked the eye test and his sudden loss of the command of the English language in front of Congress was mind boggling.

Rafael Palmiero’s finger wagging and subsequent positive drug test will overshadow is 500 plus homers and 3,000 plus hits and will keep him out, and Barry Bonds, like Clemens probably has a better chance of going to prison that the Hall of Fame. 

And, the pioneer member of the Hall of Shame remains the Hit King himself, Pete Rose.  You would think that the above names would have learned  from Rose.  Rose denied that he bet on baseball, yet signed the agreement banning him from baseball.  Nearly two decades later, he admitted his sin, but it was too late.  And, with the steroid talk dominated the talk, Rose slips into greater oblivion. 

This may be good news for player like Andre Dawson and his 438 home runs.  Alan Trammell, who was a better overall shortstop than Ozzie Smith may get a closer examination.  My darkhouse candidate Ted Simmons had better numbers than Gary Carter and many, including the stat geek, Bill James say that Simmons was better defensively than he is given credit for.  Players like Simmons, ignored for years, may now get second looks as the BBWAA searches for players to vote in because at the rate we’re going, there won’t be any clean players to vote in. 

Alex Rodriguez’s best defense is that he at least nine more years to regain his reputation, but it will never happen.  It is too late for him to do that, and even if he stays clean, the public will always have doubts.  Even if Rodriguez submits to weekly, monthly or even daily drug tests, it won’t erase what he did to himself and the game.  Deep down, Rodriguez believes that because he got caught early enough in his career, he has enough years to make it “go away.”  Don’t count on it.

He claims he didn’t know what drugs he took, and couldn’t be truthful with Katie Couric because he couldn’t be truthful to himself first, another line of bunk that nobody is believing.  Athletes always know what they’re putting into the bodies and to think they would inject a drug into their bloodstream without any knowledge is more than absurd.

In the 1990s, Buffalo Bills defensive end Bruce Smith, who was just voted into the Football Hall of Fame, was doing a commercial for the now defunct or extremely hard-to-find Lay’s Au-Gratin potato chips.  In the commercial, Smith had to grab a handful of chips and shove them into his mouth.  Smith, at that time was really into nutrition and the once chubby defender had almost no body fat.  Smith, so conscious about food intake, never swallowed the chips.  He shoved them in, sampled enough for the camera, then spit them out each and every time.  If Bruce Smith wouldn’t eat delicious potato chips, why would Alex Rodriguez inject a PED without firm knowledge of what he was ingesting? 

The Hall of Shame will grow and it will grow at the expense at the Hall of Fame.  Let’e be fair, the Hall of Fame is very overrated.  We make such a big deal about who should get in, who shouldn’t get in.  I laughed when Peter Gammons asked Alex Rodriguez about the Hall of Fame when his laying career is not even close to being finished.  Why would an active player like Rodriguez be fixated on the Hall of Fame when that vote is nearly 20 years away?

Don Mattingly, Keith Hernandez, and Steve Garvey were great players, Hall of Fame honored or not.  Bill Mazeroski is in the HOF and he would be ranked fourth from this group.  So, in reality, is the Hall of Fame all its cracked up to be?  Just because one doesn’t make it in doesn’t mean they’re not great players.

Bonds, Rodriguez, Clemens, Sosa and Palmeiro can join those on the outide looking in because like Garvey, Hernandez and Mattingly, they will not be getting enshrined in their future. 

Somewhere, Bill Mazeroski is shaking his head.

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