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After getting his college degree at Humboldt State (Calif.) – Giants and A’s country, incidentally – my baseball-loving son Danny moved away to Tallahassee, Florida. Master’s degree. Marriage to Sara. Job. Career. A son, Elliott. While he claimed that his baseball interests died a little because he had no one around to share it, I’d long suspected that baseball’s PED controversies chipped away at how he viewed baseball.
“I don’t think it’s fair, Dad, that those guys are kept out of the Hall of Fame.”
I blame the unfairness and ineptitude of the media for killing Danny’s baseball love. I think he does, too.
Danny, plus my youngest son, Chet, aren’t advocating PED use. All they see is a widespread dose of unequal justice. They see media corruption. In other words, the players didn’t do any more wrong than the media did in failing to properly cover the corruption. How can they be allowed into the selection process when they failed at their own reporting assignments?
By voting those same players – Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, et al – as MVP or Cy Young winners, that fraternity of media was also part of the problem. It’s some of the more disgusting acts of hypocrisy. Many held out their votes for the Hall of Fame.
Many of those media types show up on TV, or as columnists, or on blogs, nodding, saying, “See? See? We told ya.”
They watched Verducci, “Game of Shadows” and Jose Canseco break the stories, or write their books. In effect, they got scooped. They piggy-backed on their research to stand up against PED users.
Where were they when it counted? As sports editor of a small-city newspaper, I relied on their expertise and frontline coverage to properly present readers with stories. I wasn’t in MLB clubhouses like they were.
They’re not guardians of the Hall of Fame gates as they proclaim themselves. In fact, it wasn’t until after all of those golden on-field moments took place when they took action. Too late.
It’s a simple fact for Danny: Baseball’s over, at least in his mind. The sport has lost a fan.
Chet continues to surge ahead. His love for the game continues. His disgust for the Hall of Fame criteria, however, has increased. For the media. For the Hall voters, he’s spewing out total acrimony. Each January for the past few years, Chet seethes over the perceived injustice.
He questions Selig’s own 2017 induction, claiming that it was under his watch that baseball’s PED involvement had surged to unforeseen heights.
How dare Selig be allowed in while Bonds, among others, has been kept out. If the media, Commissioner’s office, not to mention each team had done its respective jobs, PED usage would’ve been exposed early enough and, perhaps, stamped out.
I don’t think Chet’s the only one that feels this way.
Previous Hall inductees Bobby Cox, Tony La Russa and Joe Torre should’ve and could have known. La Russa fronted for McGwire with the media. He took up on McGwire’s side, pushing away media that dared to assault the single season HR record holder. For years, too.
Until McGwire confessed.
Torre and Cox, too, had guys in their clubhouses – Sheffield, Canseco, Man-Ram, A-Rod, plus others – that enhanced their playing efforts by using PED. World Series championships were claimed with “dirty” players on their rosters.
Weren’t those managers also part of the problem? Let’s give them benefit of the doubt.
Perhaps they didn’t encourage PEDs. But it was happening under their very noses. In their clubhouses. Did nothing to help clean up their sport.
Somehow, they all got a Hall pass to Cooperstown.
You almost get tired of hearing the refrain from voters, or the observers that don’t have a vote but want to interfere.
“Bonds was on his way to the Hall of Fame until 1998. But …”
There is no “but.”
What’s left is a mess. Millions like Danny and Chet continue to, perhaps, fret at the notion that suspected PED users Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez have been inducted. Meanwhile, some of baseball’s brightest stars have been left out.
It’s a deeply personal conclusion to a saga that won’t go away.