Should they be in Cooperstown, given that the Baseball Writers Association of America has punished recently retired players who have used performance-enhancing drugs, incluing players managed by Torre and La Russa?
You know, like Roger Clemens, and Mark McGwire?
This is especially a matter for debate and discussion since former Major Leaguer Eric Byrnes has now joined longtime sportswriter Thomas Boswell in claiming that the Baseball Hall of Fame already contains, in Byrnes' words, not just a member, but a "prominent" member who was a serious user of performance-enhancing drugs.
Here's the money quote:
Disturbingly, not long ago I was having dinner with a former long time Major League player that spoke about the steroid use of a prominent Hall of Famer that played the majority of his career in the 70′s and 80′s… Ha! Not like I was shocked but damn… So many members of the Hall of Fame, including this character, have recently spoken out and condemned guys who have had ties to performance enhancing drugs, saying there is no place for “cheaters” in the HOF.OK, "prominent." From Byrnes' angle, I take that not necessarily as a first-ballot HOFer, though it certainly could be, as someone who is well-known, keeps in the public eye, etc.
When Boswell's statement came out in 2010, some sites, like Wezen-Ball, speculated on who it might be. That said, per a poll I put up at the time, in a follow-up piece, Wezen-Ball has a 1988 quote from Boswell that indicates TLR had some idea what was up and therefore, from where I stand, should be kept out of the Hall just as much as Barry Bonds and the aforementioned duo. (Per a poll I had about Byrnes' piece, an outright majority fingered Reggie Jackson as the person he meant.)
But, in the case of both La Russa and Torre, but especially the former, the questions don't stop there.
And, in Oakland, TLR managed the two most notorious known, admitted users in Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Re Big Mac, TLR has claimed he didn't notice anything, didn't know anything. He's been more circumspect about Canseco. That's why I'd love a, say, Ken Rosenthal to put both of them, La Russa and Canseco, in the same interview room at the same time. Because, to be honest, I don't believe La Russa. And, given that he's got a law degree, he knows just how to parse and shade his language.
And, although La Russa seems "dirty," given his connection to Canseco and his "milkshake," let's not let Torre off the hook too lightly either.
What about Torre and his Yankee years? I said before that I thought Bonds' courtroom appearance twin, Roger Clemens, was juicing before that. Then there's Andy Pettitte who, yes, has apologized, and I said that Torre was probably not aware of Andy. But, I don't know. Whether he should have been aware of "Muchie Peachie" and others (Jason Giambi, pre- or post-apology) is a different question.
And, FINALLY! Somebody in the mainstream media, Rick Reilly, has actually written about this, and largely agrees with me! Indeed, he goes after Cox as well as Torre and La Russa.
That said, here's my thoughts on likely roiders among players. It applies to La Russa and Torre, too. (To riff on Ricky Ricardo, you got some 'splaining to do, and some apologizing, along with the players union, management, and now, I would say, at least one field manager.)
We can make some sort of guesstimate as to how your managerial career might have panned out without the "help." And, making it to three straight World Series in Oakland, then having a juiced Mac welcome a trade to St. Louis, to break Roger Maris' record, might not have happened, either.
That said, Torre might not deserve a 100 percent pass, either. How much did Yankee roiding help his team win four World Series in five years, and make it to five in six years?
And now, we see how well the Veterans Committee has studied this issue and how much it concerns them.
Apparently, it concerned the committee bupkis. And, it also apparently concerns top-level writers bupkis, too. The ESPN story I link to doesn't even mention the word "steroids." Hell, ESPN and other folks in the mainstream sports media world (MSSM?) didn't discuss this before the vote, either.
So, to every ESPN writer who calls the BBWAA hypocrites? "Eat me." Like Jerry Crasnick.
And, managing roiding players aside, how do we judge "borderline" managers? See here for my cry for a WAR for managers.
Otherwise, there's also two other overdue people. It's simply disgusting that labor leader Marvin Miller again didn't get voted in. Also, catching great Ted Simmons, who had the misfortune of playing in Johnny Bench's shadow, in the same league, for much of his career, should be in the Hall.
And, what good is a post like this without a poll?
My answer? It's always been yes.
First, it's hypocritical and a double standard to do otherwise.
Second, to treat the managers in the same way would force the steroid issue even more into the open.
Third, given how pervasive roiding was, I really think La Russa, at least, knew something. And, I'm a Cards fan. But, I don't give free passes.