YOUNG: Explaining why the Baseball Hall of Fame got it right | local sports


By now you may have heard that former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz was inducted into the National Baseball of Fame on Tuesday, based on receiving 77.9% of the votes from the BBWAA, the body of baseball writers who decide on each player’s candidacy at least five years after they played their last game.

Maybe you’ve also heard that once-promising inductees Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling didn’t receive the required 75% vote, and because their 10 years of eligibility are up, they’re no longer allowed to be on the ballot anymore, at least from the writers. The remaining options of the trio? We will come to that.

Meanwhile, in the days since the vote was revealed, I have heard and participated in many discussions that it is patently “unfair” that borderline players like Harold Baines, Larry Walker and Craig Biggio have their plaques in the Hall. hallowed halls, while the man who hit more homers than any player in history (Bonds), the man who got more hits than any player in history (Pete Rose) and the pitcher who has won more Cy Young awards than anyone in history (Clémens) no.

Well, we know why Rose isn’t around (betting on baseball when he was a coach), but Clemens and Bonds’ transgressions are less morally vile: They’re associated with performance-enhancing drugs, the evidence shows. most common being quantity-based as these older players’ performance has improved at an age when most players’ skills are beginning to decline. Those same PED-associated rumors hang over at least four other top players whose CVs for Cooperstown should have been good enough for first-round selection, but instead resulted in surprisingly low voter numbers over the years: Mark McGwire , Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez.

Ortiz himself was linked to PEDs when a supposedly anonymous test was published by the NY Times in 2003, but as I mentioned, baseball commissioner Rob Manfred frequently exonerated Ortiz from others who appeared on the list, and Ortiz himself has denied ever taking PEDs. when the report came out, and even said he was never told about the positive test at the time. The supposedly positive test came in 2003, before Ortiz’s best years with the Sox, and he never tested positive again or was in any way linked to PEDs.

These are perhaps the words of a Boston “homer” who generally loves Big Papi as a person, and as a long-suffering Red Sox fan appreciates what his arrival in Boston has done to change the framework of the franchise and its decades. failure story. Maybe that’s a fair critique of my defense of Ortiz’s first-round pick while saying guys like Clemens, Bonds, A-Rod and Ramirez were more guilty of cheating. But the fact is, Ortiz came to the Sox after six seasons for the Minnesota Twins, where he hit .266 with 58 homers, for a total of one dinger for every 25.47 at bat. During his prolific 14-year Boston career, he hit .290 with 483 homers, for a total of one homer for every 14.8 at-bats. Hmmm. Still, Ortiz’s numbers were mostly remarkably consistent during his time in Boston, and he was a beloved and revered figure and was a playoff hero time and time again.

Now let’s take a look at Bonds and Clemens, as many people claim the two established Hall of Fame credentials before they even (allegedly) started juicing.

Bonds, the son of SF Giants star Bobby Bonds, was drafted by the Pirates in the second round of the 1982 draft, and was rookie of the year and finished in the top three in MVP voting three times, winning two time. He hit .275 with 176 homers in Pittsburgh, and when he became a free agent he returned “home” to San Francisco, where he played the next 15 seasons. In four NLDS and four NLCS for the Pirates and Giants, he hit .236 and .203 respectively, although in his lone World Series appearance he hit .471 for the Giants, who lost a 3-2 lead in series. Anaheim Angels in the 2002 Fall Classic. Bonds never won a championship in 22 seasons, led his team to the playoffs only seven times, and his postseason average was a measly .245. Frankly, he put in big numbers, but he wasn’t a winner.

In 2003, jealous of all the attention McGwire and Sosa received for their record-breaking home run battle in 1998, Bonds reportedly started taking PEDs, and his home run total that season jumped from 49 to 73, a jump remarkable – especially for a 37-year-old man. He looked different, too, and Bonds testified before a federal grand jury in 2003 that he had used drugs called the “cream” and the “clear,” but didn’t know they were PEDs. To the right.

When Clemens left Boston after 13 seasons in 1996, he held the club record for wins and was 192-111 overall, but he had been just 40-39 in the four seasons before his walking year. as a free agent, and at 34 years old. old, it was deemed consumable by Sox GM Dan Duquette.

So it was nothing short of remarkable when a noticeably bloated and slimmed-down Rocket went to the Blue Jays in 1997 and won back-to-back Cy Young Awards. He pitched awfully well in his 40s, including going 18-4 with Houston at 41, then compiled a 1.87 ERA at age 42. Tom Brady aside, those numbers just didn’t make sense for a powerhouse pitcher who was improving rather than declining in his early 40s.

And things were apparently not what they seemed, as Clemens’ name appeared 82 times in the Mitchell report which lists those who had tested positive for PEDs, and his trainer, Brian McNamee, turned around. against him and cooperated in the investigation. After Clemens appeared before Congress and insisted he did not use PEDs, he was indicted by a federal grand jury on six counts of perjury, contempt and making false statements. in Congress. His first trial ended in a mistrial, but he was acquitted on all counts at a second trial.

But notably, during testimony, Clemens Yankee teammate Andy Pettitte said, “Roger had mentioned to me that he had taken HGH and that might help with recovery.” Clemens memorably testified that Pettitte “misremembered” their conversation and insisted his wife, Debbie, was injected with HGH by McNamee, but the star pitcher never did.

I smell a rat here, and it seems pretty inconceivable that a player’s personal trainer would carry HGH with him and administer it to the player’s wife at his request, but the pitcher himself, pitching as well or better in the 2000s than when he was in his twenties for the Red Sox, would not participate in any of McNamee’s nefarious supplements.

In retrospect, Ortiz may have briefly taken PEDs, but that’s not part of his success story in Boston the way Bonds had in San Francisco and Clemens had in Toronto, New York and Houston. It’s hard to say one guy is less of a cheat than the other, but Ortiz has been, as mentioned, pretty consistent over his 20-year career and passed every test (even in the Dominican Republic in the offseason) , while the others had final chapters one (before juice) and two (after), and their career numbers were obviously changed when they made the (alleged) choice to inject, and that’s just plain Too bad two of baseball’s most renowned superstars won’t be in Cooperstown this summer, or likely any time soon. But it’s their fucking fault.

What’s next for Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, A-Rod and Manny? Meeting next week.

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