August 17, 2012

The baseball Hall of Fame and morals clause hypocrisy

I recently blogged about how I would like for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and other presumed top steroiders (can anybody think of other pitchers?) like Rafael Palmeiro and Gary Sheffield to have, if not a "confession" in a moral sense, an "owning up" in an investigative sense as to just what they used, how much, and an estimate of how much it helped them.

At the same time, I noted that there were problems, as well as outright hypocrisy, with the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame's moral character clause for players. (And executives, we should probably add, on the hypocrisy side.)

here's a few reasons for that.

The first is that the MLB Hall of Fame, among major sports halls in the US, is the only one with a morals clause.

Alex Karras and Paul Hornung are in the NFL Hall after a year's suspension for betting on games, for example.

Second, there's plenty of shady characters in the MLB Hall as is. Racists. People besides Pete Rose, who allegedly bet on games, even besides Shoeless Joe Jackson who allegedly threw at least one game.

Ty Cobb and Tris Speaker allegedly agreed to throw a game, with betting on it, at the end of the 1926 season. Commissioner Landis found out, and whitewashed it.

There's probably other problematic bettors in MLB's history. Doorknob knows there's enough other racists.

Third, per the "greenies" (and even steroid precursors) of the past, performance enhancement via chemistry isn't totally new. And, who knows how often Hank Aaron or Willie Mays used? We know that Mickey Mantle may have gotten early versions of steroids, even, from Dr. Max Jacobsen, JFK's quack doctor. Nor, whether with illegal corked bats by Babe Ruth, illegal spitballs by Gaylord Perry, or illegal scuff balls by Don Sutton, is performance enhancement via physics.

(I've blogged in more depth before about the steroids vs. other cheating.)

In short, just as a website like Baseball-Reference makes sabermetric adjustments for different ballparks, different eras, and so forth, I would like more information so we can make a sabermetric adjustment for steroids and human growth hormone, and anything else that was in the "cream" and "clear" that Bonds got from  BALCO. No, it won't be a perfect adjustment, but, it would be some adjustment.

I've blogged about the steroids-and-sabremetrics adjustments before, but, a book I just read called "Cooperstown Confessional" got me to thinking specifically about the morals clause issue.

(Update, Aug. 17: That said, former major leaguer Doug Glanville has a very interesting NYT column saying that, in terms of general public relations for Major League Baseball, today's roiders may be more of a potential problem than the Cobbs and other racists of long ago and the Pete Rose of not so long ago. Glanville was stimulated to ask if public tolerance might be finite, with Melky Cabrera's 50-game PED suspension.)

Meanwhile, speaking of sabermetric adjustments, here's my blog post about some of the pitchers I would vote out of the HOF on player quality grounds. And, here's my thoughts on some batters I'd vote back out.

And, click the  "MLB Hall of Fame" tag for more on other candidates on this year's ballot and my thoughts.

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