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Steroid Accusations Likely To Bench Baseball Hall Of Fame Candidates

Jan 9, 2013
Originally published on January 9, 2013 6:26 am

The results of this year's baseball Hall of Fame voting will be revealed on Wednesday.

Given the exit polling, it appears both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, as well as other candidates stained by accusations of steroid use, will not be admitted.

Among other reasons for not voting for them, I would suspect that accusations against Lance Armstrong for using performance-enhancing drugs in cycling is bound to have some carry-over effect. At a certain point, when the circumstantial evidence for drug use is so compelling, who can possibly believe these guys?

Of course, on the other hand, you may subscribe to the belief that through all the eons of humankind on this earth only a handful of baseball players circa the end of the 20th century learned the secret of how to get stronger, naturally, even as their bodies aged.

And after all, it isn't as if the Hall of Fame voters are obliged to employ the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. It's just a matter of denying somebody an honor, and given all the reasonable reasonable doubt involved that seems like a fair enough penalty to assess to the cheaters.

Good grief, they won't let Pete Rose, the player, into Cooperstown for breaking baseball law even though what he was convicted of came years after he was finished as a player.

But, unfortunately, Bonds and Clemens and their colleagues under suspicion can remain on ballot purgatory for as many as another 14 years, which will be even worse than having to periodically go through the interminable debate about raising the debt ceiling.

It's too bad, too, because arguing who gets into Halls of Fame used to be a bit of fun, except perhaps for the poor devils whose Hall-worthiness is being scrutinized.

There is, for example, a very good pitcher from the 1980s, Jack Morris, who is in no way suspected of taking drugs, and Mr. Morris has become a serious candidate for admission this year. You think Chuck Hagel is going to be under a microscope just because he's up for a little Cabinet position? For weeks now, the breakdown of every ball and strike that poor Jack Morris ever threw has been dissected, diagnosed, critiqued and spread-sheeted.

You can't believe the minutiae that sports numbers freaks can come up with now. Yes, once upon a time sports history was made up of too much mythology, but now: Never mind myth, even all the breath has been squeezed out of it, and sports history has been reduced to dueling statistics.

Well, except for the statistics during that benighted drug period when the area of a baseball circle was pi r quadrupled.

The irony of it all, whether it is honest players like Morris or the steroid suspects who are being considered, is that Marvin Miller –– the labor leader, the single most important person in baseball history who never wore a uniform –– went to his grave not long ago shortly after, once again, being rejected by the Hall.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The results of this year's National Baseball Hall of Fame voting will be revealed later today. Now, I'm giving the exit polling. It appears that both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens - as well as other candidates stained by accusations of steroid use - will not be admitted.

Here's sports commentator Frank Deford.

FRANK DEFORD, BYLINE: Among other reasons for not voting for them, I would suspect that Lance Armstrong is bound to have some carryover effect. At a certain point, when the circumstantial evidence for drug use is so compelling, who can possibly believe these guys?

Of course, on the other hand, you may subscribe to the belief that through all the eons of humankind on this Earth, only a handful of baseball players circa the end of the 20th century learned the secret of how to get stronger naturally, even as their bodies aged.

And, after all, it isn't as if the Hall of Fame voters are obliged to employ the beyond-a-reasonable-doubt standard. It's just a matter of denying somebody an honor. And given all the reasonable, reasonable doubt involved, that seems like a fair enough penalty to assess to the cheaters.

Good grief, they won't let Pete Rose, the player, into Cooperstown for breaking baseball law, even though what he was convicted occurred years after he was finished as a player. But unfortunately, Bonds and Clemens and their colleagues under suspicion can remain on ballot purgatory for as much as another 14 years, which will be even worse than having to periodically go through the interminable debate about raising the debt ceiling.

It's too bad, too, because arguing who gets into Halls of Fame used to be a bit of fun, except perhaps for the poor devils whose Hall-worthiness is being scrutinized. There is, for example, a very good pitcher from the 1980s, Jack Morris, who is in no way suspected of taking drugs. And Mr. Morris has become a serious candidate for admission this year. You think Chuck Hagel is going to be under a microscope just because he's up for a little Cabinet position? For weeks now, the breakdown of every ball and strike that poor Jack Morris ever threw has been dissected, diagnosed, critiqued and spread-sheeted.

You can't believe the minutiae that sports numbers freaks can come up with. Yes, once upon a time, sports history was made up of too much mythology. But now, never mind myth, even all the breath has been squeezed out of it, and sports history has been reduced to dueling statistics.

(LAUGHTER)

DEFORD: Well, except for those statistics during that benighted drug period when everything was skewed and the area of a baseball circle was pi-r-quadrupled.

The irony of it all - whether it is honest players like Jack Morris or the steroid suspects who are being considered - is that Marvin Miller, the labor leader, the single-most important person in baseball history who never wore a uniform, went to his grave recently after, once again, being rejected by the Hall.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: Commentary from Frank Deford, who joins us each Wednesday from member station WSHU in Connecticut.

It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

And I'm Renee Montagne. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.