Thursday, January 25, 2007

The First Unanimous Hall of Famer

Well, it looks like it won't be Roger Clemens. In an interview with Maury Brown, Ken Rosenthal says:

As of this moment—and I reserve the right to change my mind on a question that will not be relevant for at least five years—I will not vote for Clemens on the first ballot. I will not vote for any player from this era first-ballot, though I made exceptions for Ripken and Gwynn and probably will make them for certain others; Glavine and Maddux come to mind.

My feeling is this: We don’t know who did what. We don’t know the impact that performance enhancers had on the game. Therefore, I’m uncomfortable equating the greats from this era with the greats of the pre-steroids past. A first-ballot snub is one way to draw that distinction. Is it unfair to implicate everyone that way? Perhaps. But the players were members of a union that could have agreed to testing or unilaterally adopted it themselves if they did not trust the owners. Instead, they were completely dismissive of the issue.

What will I do with these guys after the first ballot? I have no idea.

One thing people should understand: This is a Hall of Fame vote, not a court verdict. Voters don’t need evidence or proof to render their decisions. We are instructed to consider character, integrity and sportsmanship, creating wide latitude for subjectivity.

I’m not sure what the proper answer is. I’m not sure there is a proper answer. I respect others who disagree with me. The topic is so complex, virtually every point of view is valid. Basically, I will vote my conscience, using the information and perspective that is available to me at the time.

Personally, I think not voting for McGwire is too far, given that he never tested positive, but this a lot worse. I think there's a decent chance Clemens used steroids, but other than pitching well at an old age, there's really no proof. (Unless Rosenthal does know something but is keeping quiet about it).

That being said, since it's Clemens, I'm okay with it.

1 comment:

Sully said...

That doesn't sound like much of a conviction: "I'm not voting for anyone on the first ballot from that era... except for this one, and that one... and, you know, those other two." How can you really pick and choose when you've already said you don't know who did what?

As far as Clemens, though, it doesn't matter yet anyway. Assuming he plays this year and then retires, he won't be on the ballot for six years anyway. By then, we'll probably know a lot more about everyone, and people's stances will have softened a little bit.

But I agree... punishing Clemens doesn't upset me in the least.