Off Base
Increased Drug Testing Deemed Necessary - For Baseball Writers

January 13, 2007

Ya think?

Let’s hear it for the Baseball Writers of America Association.

If you're one of BBWAA's writers, I suggest that you clean your system of drugs permanently otherwise everyone's going down the drain.

A veritable clan of Phi Beta Kappas, if ever there was one.

Six of the BBWAA's best and brightest cast a 2007 Hall of Fame vote for Jose Canseco. Oh he of little syringe. Three writers voted for Dante Bichette, two thought Bobby Bonilla worthy of immortality, and one poor schlub actually went public in support of Jay Buhner. No, really. Jay Buhner. Someone’s been spending his time studying up on Seinfeld instead of his ABCs.

With such strong evidence, there’s no other plausible explanation. A large percentage of the BBWAA is on drugs. Apparently HGH, or “Hall Gets High,” said to be a precursor to acute shortsidedness, is allowed in the press box on game days, along with coffee pots labeled “leaded” and “unleaded,” which if taken in doses of one or more cups, influences a writer’s capacity to choose wisely and use a keyboard at the same time.

While 13 scribes left Tony Gwynn off their ballots completely, two voted for Ken Caminiti. While three guys voted for Eric Davis; eight didn’t vote for Cal Ripken.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing new here. Henry Aaron was left off a bunch of ballots when his turn came up. Mantle and Mays too. Koufax, Spahn, Ryan, Robinson, Killebrew, Foxx, Williams, Musial, etc., etc. There are actually writers out there who say to themselves, for example, “Hank Aaron, 755? Nah, maybe next year.”

In all fairness, the BBWAA is Solomon-like compared to the Veteran’s Committee, and leader Joe Morgan, whose sole purpose in life (besides speaking poorly and constantly referring to Barry Bonds as “Barry"), is to keep the Hall safe for middle infielders with lifetime batting averages of .271.

Check out this inspiring list of guys the VC has chosen, down through the years. There’s good ole second baseman Bid McPhee and his on-the-nose .271 lifetime; Vic Willis, who won 28 less games than Bert Blyleven, with 10 less shutouts; and Rick Ferrell, who managed .281, with 1692 hits, 28 homers and 734 RBIs, along with zero World Series appearances.

George Kell is a big-name Hall guy, but should he be? The .306 is nice, but are the 78 homers, 870 RBIs and 2054 even remotely close to Jim Rice’s accomplishments? And lest we forget Travis Jackson, George Kelly, Dave Bancroft (.279, with 32 homers and 591 RBIs), Harry Hooper (.281, 75, 817) and Jesse Haines (78 less wins, 36 less shutouts and 2721 less strikeouts than Blyleven, with an ERA of 3.64 to Bert’s 3.31).

My personal favorite has got to be John Ward, a lifetime .275-hitting shortstop; a guy who made Jose Offerman look like Ozzie Smith squared. Sure, it’s pre-1900, pre-Rawlings, but how in the world is it possible to field .885 lifetime? 60-plus errors nine times, with 105 miscues one year, that's how. 105!!

Wait, there’s more. Eppa Rixey won 15 more games than he lost, struck out over 1300, with an ERA of 3.62, but he did lose a World Series game that one time. And Bobby Wallace hit .268 with those 34 dingers. Hall of Famers both.

Perhaps a small point, but I’ve never understood why Tommy Lasorda, who won some 500 less games than Sparky Anderson, recorded a winning percentage of .526 to Sparky’s .545, with one less World Championship in one less league, retired after Anderson, but got into the Hall first.

Last but not least, Tinker to Evers to Chance. Joe Tinker hit a whopping .262 lifetime, with 1687 hits, to go along with his 635 errors at shortstop (including 50 or more seven times, 60-plus twice and 72 once), while just last week Alan Trammell and Dave Concepcion received 13.4 and 13.6% of the Hall vote respectively. So apparently, the surest way into sports’ most hallowed hall is to have an expression named after you, which is great news for Mario Mendoza…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

A Few Words in Defense of Mark McGwire: Very few. Look, Mac made an unbelievable ass of himself in Washington, D.C. one day. Whoa, now there’s a really small group of people we can talk about, huh? So with a diary of Jose Canseco as the only evidence available (and the second coming of Jim Bouton, Canseco isn’t) how much sense does keeping McGwire out of Cooperstown make? What if the guy simply declined to appear, like say, Barry Bonds, or was sick in bed that day? Then what? Yes, these are rhetorical questions?

Soccer in Los Angeles? Don’t care…

Counting Down: Just 30 days till pitchers and catchers and Mark Hendrickson report…

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Easy Targets: Meanwhile, last week in Cleveland, within hours of the Cooperstown news, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced its own class of 2007, including none other than Patti Smith. I’m confident in saying that there’s at least one hall of fame in this country that doesn’t limit its members to the career drug-free.

And finally, there’s no nice way to say it, not that I’d try, but Marty Schottemheimer is Bobby Cox, without the wife beating. OK, that’s harsh; a combination of Bobby Cox, Gene Mauch and Mike Montgomery, without the wife beating…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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