Tag Archives: Hank Aaron

Hank Aaron, The True Home Run King, Is Dead Wrong About Steroids!

5 Aug

Read somewhere online that Hank Aaron wants the 2003 list of steroid abusers made public.  I greatly respect Mr. Aaron.  I have taught my kids that he’s the true home run king, which of course, he is.

Despite all of this Hank Aaron could not be more wrong on this point.  Players only submitted to the tests because they were assured that the results would remain confidential.  That promise enabled the test to happen and to illustrate the extent of baseball’s performance enhancing problem.  The test served its purpose and that should be that.

But, of course, that is not that.  The names have been leaking out in dribs and drabs.  It’s frustrating for fans and the players alike.  Outed players like A-Rod & Big Papi get to bare the brunt of the backlash while others who were just as guilty get to slide by unnoticed.

It’s not fair, but neither is life.  Fact is that you only make it worse by releasing all the names.  How many more reputations will be tainted and lives damaged?

Yes, I’m as disgusted as you at how bad baseball let the steroid problem become.  But, baseball knows it has a problem and has taken positive and effective steps to try to clean it up.  It seems to me that by releasing the 2003 list, you risk alienating the players and their union and only make cracking down on PEDs harder.

But, what do I know?  After all, I’m not the home run king.

WTF Is Baseball Going To Do About The Hall Of Fame Now? I’ve Got The Answer! (You’re Welcome!)

8 Feb

Baseball has some problems.  It may not be the biggest of its many challenges, but perhaps baseball’s most intriguing  problem right now is its Hall of Fame situation and I’ve got the answer.

Let’s rewind.  Remember when Mark McGwire captured America’s fascination by hitting home runs by the bushel?  Eventually, he even broke Roger Maris’ all time one season home run record.  Not only did he break it, but he and Sammy Sosa engaged in a riveting chase that brought many back to baseball.  McGwire was a class act the whole way.  He was terrific to Maris’ family.  While they might not have wished for Roger’s mark to be overtaken, the Maris Family couldn’t have asked for anyone to be more sensitive to them while doing it.

McGwire was a clear Hall of Famer.  He broke one of the game’s most cherished records with class.  He was going to end up among the top five or so home run guys of all time.  There was no doubt at the time that Big Mac was going to Cooperstown on the first ballot.  And from what we knew at the time, he deserved it.

Of course, it didn’t last long.  Soon enough we figured out that Big Mac was a big cheat.  Suddenly his treatment of the Maris Family didn’t feel so good anymore.  Then, to seal his fate, he struck out in front of Congress.  He looked foolish and very guilty.  Since then, Big Mac has basically been in hiding.

Since then, Big Mac has been no where near Cooperstown either.  In the few elections that McGwire has been eligible for, Hall of Fame voters have given him precious little support.  Based on the numbers alone, he should be in.  Now that we know that some portion of those amazing stats are artificial, baseball’s keepers of Cooperstown seem determined to keep Mark McGwire out.

Barry Bonds is currently having troubles with the Feds, who seem determined to get to the bottom of his steroid usage.  While not yet convicted, you’d be hard pressed to find too many people now who don’t think Barry cheated.  With one year out of the game, Bonds has to wait at least another four years before being eligible for the Hall.  Given the cloud he’s under and the reaction to McGwire’s candidacy, it’s not looking good for Barry to go in on the first ballot (which his numbers would merit) or perhaps forever.

Today, comes the revelation that the game’s best current hitter, A-Rod, tested positive for steroids back when he played for the Rangers.

So, in the next decade or so, baseball will be faced with what to do with Mark McGwire who was the closest thing to Babe Ruth in our time, Sammy Sosa who hit over 600 home runs,  Barry Bonds who broke Aaron’s career mark and now Alex Rodriguez who may yet pass Bonds.

That’s a problem, people.  How do you keep McGwire out but someday elect Bonds or Alex Rodriguez?  How can you have a Hall of Fame that doesn’t include those guys?  Who were truly the best clean players of this era?  We’ll never know and that’s yet another problem.

Here’s the solution.  Go the route of South Africa.  Baseball should establish a truth commission.  Players would be able to come before it and admit how they cheated.  Once they had done that, Hall of Fame voters would be instructed that they could not use allegations or rumor or even admitted abuse of steroids or HGH against those players.  Player who came clean would only be judged on what they did on the field, which would keep things simple.

If McGwire or Bonds or Sosa decided to tell the truth, than any one of them would only be judged on their numbers and gain easy access to Cooperstown.  If one of them refused to admit anything, that’s ok too.  It’s their choice after all.   But, voters would not be instructed to have to disregard allegations or rumors of cheating.

Players would have their fate in their own hands.  It would be up to them to decide if they thought coming clean would be worth the better shot at Cooperstown. 

Finally, Cooperstown should create an exhibit on baseball  in the ’90s and on that addresses steroids and HGH.  It should tell the full history of how guys like Sosa, Bonds and McGwire and even A-Rod ended up tainted by it.  It should note that we’ll never know what numbers are fully real and which are artificial, but that at least some of the game’s stars came clean when given the chance.

A-Rod Takes The Innocence Of A 42 Year Old Hetrosexual Male!

8 Feb

Yup, that’s me I’m referring to in the post headline.  I’m 42, male, hetro and have a pathological hatred for all things Yankee.  Yet, today A-Rod crushed my innocence.

How was this possible you ask?  Well, let’s start with Barry Bonds.  For some crazy reason, I bought that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa smashed Roger Maris’ season home run legitimately.  Looking at both of them, I thought they were freaks of nature who benefited from the advanced training methods available to today’s multi-millionaire athletes as well as from the decline of quality pitching.  McGwire and Sosa had always hit bunches of home runs so it didn’t seem so strange they not only passed but obliterated the mark that had taken so much out of Maris.  Plus, for whatever I think of McGwire and Sosa now, it must be said that they both handled the chase for Roger’s record with a great deal of charm and class.  I bought it all.

Barry Bonds is a different story.  Bonds was, of course, more talented than either Sosa or McGwire.  He just didn’t hit as many home runs as they did.  Until, that is, he began to in his mid thirties.  Suddenly, Bonds’ totals were skyrocketing.  No one in the whole history of the game had gone from really great to all time freaking amazing great in his mid thirties.  Usually, players slow down as they age.  Not Bonds.  Bonds was busy breaking McGwire’s home run record.  Something wasn’t right.  Players don’t do what Bonds did at his age without help.  They cheat.  It’s more than obvious that Bonds juiced.  The Feds may never nail him, but most of America could sleep at night if they were on a jury that convicted him of steroid abuse.  I hate statements like this upcoming one, but we all know he did it.

Bonds cheating to pass Hank Aaron on the all time home run list personally offended me.  Hank Aaron is a gracious man.  Bonds, despite his legion of apologists, is a sour personality who really doesn’t seem to appreciate what the game has given him.  Hank Aaron endured death threats and all kinds of racism during the quest to pass Babe Ruth.  Hank Aaron did it the right way.  He didn’t cheat and he overtook the Babe with dignity.

On the other hand, Bonds would let nothing slow him down on the way past Aaron.  He added steroids to his training regime to keep up with McGwire and Sosa.  Then, as he was closing in on Hammering Hank, it all started to fall apart.  We started to hear about how Barry Bonds had been cheating.  His home runs were artificial.  They were fueled by steroids.  Bonds, wouldn’t let the controversy get in his way.  He just kept  knocking them out of the park.  MLB was weak and did nothing.  Bud Selig held his nose and attended the game in which Barry cheated his way past Hank.

You have to give it to Barry.  Nowhere along the way did he crack.  Never did he express regret.  He somehow held it all together and just kept stepping on home plate.  Too bad such determination couldn’t have been applied to a better cause.

If Barry Bonds had any conscience or class at all, he could have made the ultimate gesture.  He could have stopped.  He could have given up the chase, admitted he’d cheated and realized he didn’t want to pass a quality human being like  Hank Aaron in such a tawdry way.  Barry Bonds could have turned it all around.  I would have been writing about how Bonds had made a mistake, come clean, and punished himself by giving up the chase.  For me, that would have been enough to say let’s forgive and forget.  For me, that would have been enough to say he belongs in Cooperstown, since after all he was a Hall of Fame caliber player way before the ‘roids.

Of course, all of that is a dream, a fantasy.  The world doesn’t work that way.  Today, Alex Rodriguez taught me that.  You see, despite my 42 years on this planet, I still like to believe in things.  I believed in Alex Rodriguez.

Sure, I hated seeing him go to the Yankees.  And certainly seeing him up close now that he plays in my home market, I’ve come to see that he has some personality issues too.  Yet, I never doubted that Alex was clean.

The guy started in the game so young and never seemed very big, yet the homers were always there.  I believed he was something special.  I believed he was the best hitter of his generation.  I even heard sports talk hosts and journalists stating that he was obviously not a steroid guy.  Like Bonds, he had us all fooled.

I believed.  As much as Bonds sitting atop the all time homer list gnaws at me, I was content in my anticipation of the clean living A-Rod passing Bonds’ cheating ass in the next few years barring injury or unexpected decline.  It was poetic justice.  I’ve taught my kids that the real home run champ is Hank Aaron.  I was looking forward to teaching them about how A-Rod took back the crown that Bonds had stolen and restored baseball’s reputation in the process.  It was going to be a great lesson about how you can achieve things the right way.

So, today we find out that A-Rod flunked a test in 2003 and was on at least two steroids while he played for the Texas Rangers.  I feel like a fool.  I feel let down.

What do I teach my children now?

Thanks, A-Fraud.  Now we know Joe Torre was right the whole time.  And my kids will learn a whole new lesson from you.

Will This Comeback Story End In 300 Wins and the Hall of Fame?

9 Jul
In a totally unexpected development, Mike Mussina has been the Yankees’ best pitcher this year. Moose looked done last year after continuing his streak of mediocre pitching seasons in his late 30s. At his lowest point, he was bumped from the starting rotation. Many (myself included) figured Mussina was never coming back.
We were very, very wrong. Currently, Mussina stands at 11-6 with a respectable 3.64 ERA.  At 39, Mussina is up to 261 career wins. Will he get to 300 and does he need to in order to clinch the Hall of Fame?
As we did yesterday with Randy Johnson, let’s compare Mike Mussina to two recent members of the all exclusive 300 victory club Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux as well as Johnson.
But first, let’s figure out what Mussina has to do to get to pitching’s most glorious career milestone. So far this year, he’s racked up 11 wins and is more than half way to his first ever 20 win season. Since this is my blog, you are gonna have to trust me when I say that Mussina won’t get 20 this year. I put the over/under on him at 15 wins.

Baseball is a funny game and it has a way of catching up to people. Mussina, given his recent pitching history, has pitched way too well this year. Don’t give me that stuff about him finding a different way to pitch this year. The man is 39. He is what he is. Either injury of bad luck will keep his second half from being as good as his first half. I know. The baseball gods have spoken to me. (PS-they say hello)

So, let’s say me and the baseball gods are a little off and Mussina wins 17 games this season. That would put him at 267.  Mike Mussina would be just 33 wins away from immortality.  Shockingly and tantalizingly close, but next year, Mussina will be pitching at age 40…

Here’s how Clemens and company did post 40.  Roger Clemens won 17 games at 40, then 18 at 41 and finally 13 at 42 before going into permanent part time service.  Interestingly, Clemens ERA went down each of those years before setting in at under 2.00 for his 13 win campaign.  Maddux in his two full seasons as a forty year old so far won 14 and 15 games with ERAs around 4.20.  Not horrible, but not vintage Maddux.  As for Johnson, the big lefty won between 16-17 games for each of his first three season in his forties until he was able to make only 10 starts last year as a 43 year old.

As good as all three future Hall of Famers have been, the reality is that all of them slowed down in their 40s whether due to age, injury or choice.  Mussina began his slowing down process in his 30s.  Don’t believe me?  Here are Mussina’s numbers for the last four seasons prior to this one:

  • Age 35: 12-9, 4.59
  • Age 36: 13-8, 4.41
  • Age 37: 15-7, 3.51
  • Age 38: 11-10, 5.15

 Verdict # 1: Mike Mussina will not make it to 300 wins.

Give him credit though, he’s a lot closer than anyone would have imaged last year.  That said, in order to get to 300, he’ll have to go another three years with 10-15 wins each season.  If he was Maddux or Clemens or Johnson, I’d bet the house on him.  Mussina has never been in those guys’ class and so I’m betting against him to join their exclusive club.

So if Mussina doesn’t win 300, is he a Hall of Famer?

In my opinion, there are two kinds of Hall of Famers and both have legitimate paths to Cooperstown.  The first is the no brainer.  Guys who were so talented and so dominant that there’s no argument whether their career spanned many decades (Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron) or was cut short  (think Lou Gherig or Roberto Clemente or Sandy Koufax as the extreme case of a short but breathtakingly brilliant career).

Then, the second legitimate path to the Hall of Fame are the compilers.  Baseball is one heck of a tough sport.  Hitting its magic numbers like 300 wins, 3,000 hits or 500 home runs are amazing feats of talent and consistency.  Some of the guys who surpassed those milestones where never confused with being the absolute best at their position, but they deserve a great deal of credit for getting there nonetheless and have a rightful place in the Hall.

Back to Mike Mussina.  Is Mike Mussina a “no brainer” candidate?  Let me give you the “no brainer” answer – NO!

So, in order for Mussina to get in he’s going to have go the compiler route.  In these days of relief specialists, pitch counts and relief specialists, it’s tough enough to win 15 never mind 20 games in a season.  In order to win 300 in a career a player has to average 15 wins for 20 seasons (two decades worth).  Mussina may get as close to 300 as anyone other than Randy Johnson may get for a long time.  All of that said…

Verdict #2 – Mike Mussina just won’t get into Cooperstown without 300 wins

The challenge will be that Hall of Fame voters haven’t adjusted their thinking.  In their minds it’s not the all impressive 250 win club.  It’s still 300 or bust.  Absent any Cy Youngs, missing a twenty win season (or two or three) and with an ERA that was very rarely below 3.00,  Mussina simply won’t get in as a no brainer or a compiler.

And you know what?  I’m OK with that.

Mike Mussina has been a very good major league pitcher for a long time, but he’s never been the game’s top ace or even his league’s or his division’s and sometimes not even his team’s #1.  Mike Mussina deserves an awful lot of respect but until Jack Morris, Curt Schilling and maybe even Bert Blyleven get busts in Cooperstown, I won’t be making many arguments on his behalf.

Bud Selig Finally Grows A Pair!

31 Mar


Baseball’s do nothing, see nothing commissioner is finally getting tough.  According to reports, Bud Selig is insisting that any players named in the Mitchell Report be punished somehow. 

Predictably, baseball’s player association is balking at any punishment for their members named in the steroid/HGH report.  This is, of course, what happens when a union becomes too big and successful.  It becomes tone deaf.  Their members are making millions on a game that depends on an even playing field and the union refuses to hold those that have tarnished the game and risked future prosperity for all members accountable.

But, this post isn’t about the union.  It’s about the other sad half of baseball’s pathetic leadership equation.  It’s all about Bud Selig.  Why is Mr. Selig digging his heels in now?

For Selig, this fight is all about Selig.  It’s about a legacy.  Think about it.  What is Selig’s legacy right now?  He’ll forever be the commissioner tied to the steroid era in baseball.  Sure, in many ways it’s been an extremely successful time.  At what cost is the question?  Steroids and HGH pose the biggest threat to the game right now, perhaps ever, and Selig is the one who turned a blind eye to their entrance into baseball’s mainstream.

Would you want that on your Hall of Fame plaque?  Selig doesn’t.  So, that’s why he’s clamping down now.  It’s protecting his legacy.  Nothing less and nothing more.

I only wish Selig had thought more about his legacy in the 1990s when cheaters like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and finally Barry Bonds destroyed a record a decent man like Roger Maris went through so much to set.

Of course, the Maris record, amazing as it is, takes a back seat to the biggest record of them all.  Like Maris, Hank Aaron went through a ton of pressure and ugliness to set the all time homer mark only multiplied by racism on top of everything else.  Where was Selig when a gracious decent man’s honest accomplishments were surpassed by an arrogant cheater named Barry Bonds?  Keeping a low profile and trying to figure out how to dig baseball out of the whole he let it fall into.

Selig is a disgrace as a commissioner, but I guess that’s what you get when you hire a fellow owner to do a job that’s supposed to be all about doing what’s in the best interest of baseball.