By In Baseball

Hall of Fame Game

Love the way the Bonds Hall of Fame discussion is going … lots of great thoughts and passion and I sense real effort to crystallize where our disagreements lie.

With that, here’s a thought experiment:

You have 10 players who put up EXACTLY the same numbers over their careers — clear cut, no doubt, all-time great, Hall of Fame numbers. There is no debate that their playing merits election and induction into the Hall of Fame. The differences between them are as follows:

Player 1: Great person, beloved, signed every autograph, treated people with respect.

Player 2: Unlikeable person, terrible teammate, generally despised in the clubhouse, booed often.

Player 3: Cheated regularly in some baseball-centric way (threw spitballs, corked bats, maliciously spiked players to gain an advantage, etc).

Player 4: Popped amphetamines regularly in the belief they kept him more alert.

Player 5: Used steroids a couple of times, found they did not work well for him, stopped.

Player 6: Used steroids for much of his career, felt badly about it, admitted it and worked to prevent kids from using steroids in the future.

Player 7: Used steroids, lied about it, never did come around to admitting it.

Player 8: Killed someone two years after retirement when no longer involved in baseball and was convicted.

Player 9: Threw games regularly to win bets.

Player 10: Gambled on baseball but never threw a game.

Which of these players would you vote into the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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132 Responses to Hall of Fame Game

  1. We’re stipulating the players each had raw numbers which are beyond debate HOF worthy? I’d vote for 1-8. The gambling thing for me is a bridge too far. It creates an atmosphere where it’s fair to question if everyone is actually trying. I assume #10 is Pete Rose. You don’t have to throw games to allow your better patterns to affect how you approach games as a manager.

  2. Dave says:

    1,2,8 definitely (yes, even the killer–not baseball related–but it definitely would make for “interesting” wording on the plaque and a more interesting acceptance speech).

    4 probably–unless stimulants–all stimulants–are banned. But there goes caffeine and nicotine too.

    5 maybe–I believe in second chances so a lot would depend on how and when he admitted it and how he conducted himself thereafter. A “second chance” after having the issue forced upon him–failed test, incriminating evidence discovered in a probe of a supplier–to me isn’t really a “second chance.”

    As to the others, I’m assuming there is evidence of the misdeeds and not just rumors, and that doesn’t mean evidence necessarily for a courtroom. And with that NO.

    • Karyn says:

      Regards 4, I think Joe means the rule MLB has now, which is no amphetamines unless legally prescribed by a doctor and with prior allowance by MLB. Red Bull is still okay.

  3. Peter says:

    I would say the following players for sure:

    1, 2, 4, 5,10

    I’m iffy on #3, I feel like that type of cheating is in the spirit of the game because it’s a little bit of gamesmanship in order to not get caught. But I’m not sure if you can condone one type of cheating while making steroid users ineligible.

    I’m also iffy on #8. While i find the character clause to be a little bit foolish, killing someone, even after baseball is a bit crazy. the hall of fame is an honour and I don’t feel like any murderer should get honoured for anything.

    But 6, 7 and 9 are definite No’s. Lots of steroid use and throwing games in my mind are black marks for the hall of fame.

  4. 1,2,4,8. The only one that seems iffy is 5, mostly because it is hard to know what really happened. As mentioned above, I’d not admit 4 if all stimulants were banned.

  5. bullman says:

    If I know about the facts before voting, only 1 & 2. Really surprised at how many would honor a murderer. OJ, allegedly, would not have a scintilla of a chance at a NFL HOF vote today.

  6. Paul White says:

    There is a clear rule related to gambling in baseball. The consequences are spelled out in every clubhouse. Bet on games and you’re banned for life, and the Hall has made it clear you are ineligible if you’re on the banned list. So that’s a “No” on 9 & 10.

    All others, I’d vote for. Many while holding my nose.

  7. Asher says:

    in my ideal HOF, everyone is in. tell history who the best players were and let future Posnanskis fill in the color.

    my next best HOF would be everyone but 9 and 10. unlike everything else, gambling is a bright line that’s been around forever. everyone is on notice that it’s grounds for banishment.

    i could listen to arguments for barring 8, particularly if it was some kind of particularly awful murder that was premeditated, or a hate crime, or accompanied some other awful crime. sort of similar to 9 and 10, everyone is on notice that this is grounds for exclusion from the rest of society. so it seems reasonable that it could justify exclusion from baseball’s pantheon.

    ultimately, though, i’d be ok with 2 through 10 all being demerits against really borderline guys. like, if someone has the iffiest of iffy cases i’m ok if the deciding factor is “he wasn’t a good teammate” or “he didn’t represent the game well.” this is basically what happened to george foster, right? and i assume it’s part of what has kept kevin brown from being talked about as a serious candidate despite his credentials.

  8. Tom says:

    Yes for 1-6.

    I would also vote for 7 if most players in the game were using and there was no enforcement mechanism to stop them. If the idea is that steroids give you an unfair advantage, that seems to go away if everybody is getting the same “advantage.” If 7 were playing in 2014, then no.

    No chance on 9 or 10.

    No. 8 is really the heart of this exercise, isn’t it? I want a Hall of Fame that elevates me as a baseball fan when I go there or think about it. I don’t want to have to go there and have my joy compromised in a meaningful, human way.

  9. stushapirorutgers says:

    Can we add one more variable? The person used steroids before the collective bargaining agreement mandating testing and punishment vs. afterwards.

  10. pseudokiwi says:

    1,2, and 8 are variations of the same issue. Does a person’s character outside of the actual game of baseball merit consideration one way or the other. And, I suppose whether it’s “fair” to only consider one side of the coin. I’d vote yes on all 3, mostly because I don’t think it’s something that’s appropriate for which to deduct points. I’d think if a player was borderline (not the case here), #1 might be a bonus to tip the scale, but I don’t think a close call Hall of Famer should be kept out for 2 or 8.

    3,4,5,6, and 7 are all on the sliding scale of cheating for in-game advantage. Personally, I think greenies and steroids fall in the same bucket. There are a lot of people for whom #3 cheaters (some of whom are Hall of Famers) are called “Gamers” and it falls within the same bucket as the phantom tag when turning two. In a sports culture where the sayings “If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying” and “It ain’t cheating if you don’t get caught” are acceptable stances, I have a hard time saying no to someone who engaged in these types of activities. If the sport condoned a culture of steroid use (implicitly, explicitly, or through willful blindness), then I can’t see keeping them out after we’ve retroactively adjusted our moral compass.

    9 and 10 are different than the others because the offense is more about the integrity of the game itself. Say what you will but people in #s 1-8 were trying to win. And, especially in baseball, efforts to cheat do not guarantee winning or losing a game… It may increase your individual contributions to the effort, but 9 and 10 raise the specter of actions designed to lose the game. #9 explicitly is about throwing games. #10 is about the possibility that engaging in #10 may lead to engaging in #9. The egregiousness of #9 makes including a ban on #10 worthwhile.

    TLDR; 1-8 YES. 9 and 10 NO.

    • pesudokiwi says:

      Also, I think the difference between 6 and 7 is the issue raised in 1,2 and 8. Whether or not you are willing to judge their baseball related conduct differently based on how their character is outside of the game.

  11. I guess #8 would be a reason to not elect someone UNLESS the guy they murdered happened to be #9 or #10.

  12. I would probably vote for all of them, but include a thoughtful, all-in retrospective about them (ideally, the level of detail from the top-100 essays!)

    Would people feel differently about the HoF if there was a way to vote someone in but EXCLUDE them from the induction ceremony? I.e., Greg Maddux goes into the HoF and gives the speech, just like today. Then, three months later, the plaques for Bonds and Clemens are installed in the HoF by a workman at the end of the day with the museum closed. Would that be OK w/ Shagster?

  13. Spudfunkel says:

    1 and 2 are definitely in. 9 is definitely out, and 10 is too if the gambling occurred while he was involved in baseball. 8 is also out. The HOF shouldn’t be a cudgel to enforce morality post-career, but I think there are some actions universally considered to be evil, and I’d rather the Hall impose a ban than put the writers in a position to have to explain why they voted to induct a murderer. 3-7 are the cheating shades of grey. For me, if we know you cheated (failed a test or convincing amount of other evidence), you need to come clean, and then the voters can discount your performance. That would probably eliminate 6 and 7, but not 4 or 5. 3 depends on when they played.

  14. DjangoZ says:

    I respect this thought experiment, I do feel like you’re trying to actually understand this. Kudos to you, Joe.

    Yes on 1,2, 4 and maybe 5. No on the rest.

    Of course, the details matter in some of these cases, so it’s possible that with a fully fleshed out story I could change my vote.

  15. frank says:

    All of them

  16. 1 and 2 for sure.

    Maybe on 4, I’m not going back and relitigating the 1960s. It’s over, people are in. Going forward, I would need to better understand the advantage they gained from amphetemines over, say an energy drink today & in relation to the clear advantage steroids provided. If the advantage was not substancially more than drinking a Red Bull, then there would be no real distortion of their production over today’s “clean” players. If amphetemines gave a substancial advantage that added somewhere around 5-10% to their production, then I’d oppose induction going forward. I suspect that, based on my minimal use of amphetimines in college, that there were negative impacts to usage that cancelled out any positive advantages, but I might be wrong. I found that they didn’t enhance my ability to study as much as I’d hoped. They made me jumpy and unable to sleep, which hurt my abilities more than they helped.

    Maybe on 5, but I’m not sure the “I tried it, but didn’t like it” isn’t more of an excuse to understate what was, in fact, more prolongued use…. kind along the lines of saying “officer, I swear I only had one beer”.

    Everyone else is out, no question.

  17. Bird is the word says:

    I think the point has been made, you can get 100 responses here and not very many will look exactly the same. My morals and standards are very different from yours, and so on. What seems so clear-cut in one person’s mind is not so much in another’s. It seems that we’re trying to draw a very clear black line between in and out, when in fact the line is grey and wide and blurred.

  18. 18thstreet says:

    I can’t trust Player One. He seems a little too clean to me. Probably hiding something. They always are.

    I saw vote none of them in. How dare they sully the halls of Cooperstown!

  19. Noah says:

    I think there are a few different things in there. Regardless of my opinion on gambling, is it not stated in the MLB rulebook that if you gamble then you’re banned for life? I personally have less of a problem with the Pete Rose situation, but rules is rules.

    Seems clear that everyone agrees that #8 is the most interesting case. You might have to do another post/poll just about #8 using the other 9 players as options. Was this murderer also a “great person, beloved, signed every autograph, treated people with respect?” Or was he also #2 or #3?

    • To paraphrase the rule 21D, regarding gambling misconduct, anyone who gambles on a baseball game in which they are involved will become permanently ineligible. That’s the rule.

      • wordyduke says:

        So as not to confuse anyone, permanently ineligible to have any further employment with MLB.

        The Hall of Fame, a separate entity, added its provision that such people can’t be on its ballot just to make sure that Pete Rose wouldn’t be voted in.

  20. thoughtsandsox says:

    What if #10 was bet on baseball but never bet against yourself. The whole no betting on baseball is to insure that players don’t throw the game. But if tomorrow Derrick Jeter (I’m using Jeter cause no one would ever think it possible) bet on the A’s over the Red Sox, what would be so bad about that? If he bet for the yankees to win I don’t see a problem with that either, is he going to try too hard? It is like a boxer that places a bet on himself before a fight. People don’t have a problem with that. Why is baseball different?

    • The rule states that gambling on a game that you’re not involved with will result in becoming ineligible for one year. Betting on a game you’re involve with, regardless of whether you bet on our against yourself results in permanent Ineligibility. Rule 21-D.

      • frank says:

        Who cares about the rules for HoF? Can a guy be both kicked out of baseball and in a HoF?

        • gene says:

          Agreed, this is what we care about and what we would do.
          So, putting aside Baseball HOF & MLB policies, I would vote YES for everyone except #9 because he is the only player on our list that we know of who intentionally lost games for his team. To me, this is inexcusable. No HOF-caliber accomplishments could compensate for this behavior since it betrays your teammates, management, owner and fans. It violates the integrity of the game in that players are expected to do their very best all of the time. It not only taints the fixed loses we know of, it would also call into question any other loses in which this player performed below average.

  21. rucksack says:

    I vote for 1-10 and let them print what they want on the plaque.

  22. ceolaf says:

    I wouldn’t have them all over for dinner, but they’d all be in my Hall of Fame.

    (Obviously, I’m accepting that “never threw a game” means that his gambling activity never had any impact on his baseball actions or decision-making. However, if trying extra-hard for THIS game meant he couldn’t try as hard the next game (or some such), that’s different. If “never threw a game” means that he never intentionally lost a particular game, nor tried to lose any particular game, then…then…well, then I am not so sure. I STILL might put him in the Hall of Fame.)

  23. Jojo says:

    I vote for 1-10 and let them print what they want on the plaque.

    That’s always been my stance. Reflect the history, both good and bad. Bonds’ plaque should say, “knowingly used steroids.” Ty Cobb’s should say, “avowed racist.” Tony Gwynn’s should say, “infectious laugh.” And of course, include their stats, as well.

    • pseudokiwi says:

      What if a Hall plaque contained NO stats. Say it’s stipulated on the door that by numbers alone, they were determined to merit inclusion in the Hall of Fame and each player’s plaque will describe their other attributes.

  24. Kendell says:

    Joe – can you put this up as a poll?

  25. Austin says:

    The rules say lifetime ban for getting caught betting on baseball, so 9 and 10 are out. Most of the first 8 cheated, but they presumably all served penalties for the things they did wrong according to the baseball rulebook and whatever enforcement was in place when they were playing. To me they’ve all served their sentence and there’s nothing saying they are ineligible, so I’d vote for 1-8.

    Then after 9 and 10 passed away I’d induct them too.

  26. Richard Aronson says:

    I vote in 1-6 and 8. Gambling is clear cut, plus I will NEVER believe that Pete Rose didn’t blow our Mario Soto’s arm overworking him if he had a big bet down. As for #7, I infer he used steroids and was caught by drug testing, and the other drug users didn’t get caught when it was illegal. Thus, as far as I’m concerned, I’m never voting for Ryan Braun, ARod, etc.

  27. Lenny Jones says:

    Any guesses who these players are?

    • Karyn says:

      1. Ripken, Gwynn, Gehrig, Musial. I’d say Dale Murphy if his numbers were more clear cut.
      2. Maybe Ted Williams? Jim Rice?
      3. Ty Cobb, Gaylord Perry.
      4. Half the players from maybe 1955-1985.
      5. Maybe Rafael Palmeiro?
      6. Maybe McGwire? Pettitte?
      7. Clemens, Bonds
      8. There’s a rumor that Cobb killed a man, but if so, it was in self-defense. A Japanese player named Hiroshi Ogawa murdered someone after his career in the JPL, but it’s unclear if he was of HoF caliber for the JPL. Probably only a supposition by Joe.
      9. Hal Chase
      10. Pete Rose

      • Chris Mulrain says:

        Not that he’s close to HOF caliber, but Ugueth Urbina was involved in a pretty brutal attempted murder right after he finished playing (IIRC, he might not have even been officially retired at the time, but it was certainly the end of his career).

    • Bird is the word says:

      No idea OJ? i know, wrong sport

  28. Dave Davey says:

    I actually would need more context on all of them. You know, Kirby Puckett was #1; would you vote him in knowing what we know about him now (abusive husband and kinda bat**** crazy)?

    • Karyn says:

      While certainly not condoning domestic violence, or being bat-poop crazy, I don’t think it rises to the bar of No Hall of Fame For You.

  29. Dave E. says:

    Not 6,7,8,9

    • Dave E. says:

      And I cannot believe any of you would actually and willingly vote a murderer into the HOF.

      • Doug says:

        Marty Bergen got a couple Hall of Fame votes, didn’t he? So there would be precedent.

        (Joking. Marty Bergen should clearly not be in the Hall)

        • Karyn says:

          Bergen’s a sad case. He was clearly mentally ill for years before his tragic crimes. I would have to think long and hard about the HoF case of a player who committed such acts while obviously clinically insane.

          All that said, Bergen’s baseball career was undistinguished.

  30. 3, 9 and 10 are definite NO. Even before we were onto Sosa for steroids, somehow the majority just laughed off his corked bats. We saw it break and revealed on TV, and because he was a lovable guy many people barely batted an eye. I’m not sure if there was even a suspension. Gambling is clear cut, scuffing, spitting, corking is clear cut, spiking may be malicious, but not outright performance enhancing. 5-7 is where the debate lies. Arguably 4 because greenies were a known commodity, yet the rules were unclear. I think 5 and 6 are Andy Pettite and A-Rod territory, though A-Rod does not come fully clean nor do I see him helping kids. They admitted to using PEDs a couple of times, but more likely they did them for longer. Pettitte shows regret and most people think he’s a nice guy. A-Rod not so much. For 5-7 it depends on context. Is this the a blind eye era like Mac, Sosa, Bonds or are we headed into Palmeiro, Ramirez territory getting caught when the rules are clear cut. Makes no difference to me whether you try to atone, admit or not. On the last year’s HoF ballot I vote in Bonds, Clemens and Mac.

  31. Doug says:

    I would definitely vote in 1-7, definitely not vote in 9 or 10, and would have to think for a long time about 8.

    To me, I guess, the difference is that 1 through 7 are all “within the game” in some sense. A player being a jerk certainly is. And amphetamines, spitters, and steroids are all more or less the same kind of thing – someone cheating to gain a competitive advantage. Steroids are the most effective way to do it but it’s the same basic kind of thing (and I also probably tend to think of steroids as somewhat less effective than a lot of people here).

    Gambling on baseball IMO destroys the fundamental principle of the game: that everyone is trying to win. Certainly throwing games does, but even gambling on games where you never threw a game, it calls into question the fundamental basis of the sport. And I think it also matters to me that we’ve been treating gambling in this way since, what, 1921? The rules and norms are well-established and clear. Whereas, to me, with steroids, punishing steroid users in a way that we never punished other cheaters through the history of the game just feels wrong. As for the murderer… I would probably end up voting for him in the end. But it’s a different situation from 1-7 because it’s something that’s so completely outside of the game.

    That said, I’m hardly unbiased here. If my favorite player as a kid had been Pete Rose instead of Barry Bonds, maybe I’d be arguing from the other side. But there’s nothing we can really do about that, I guess.

    (One thing it would be interesting to see on the list: commissioners / managers / owners. Owners who were implicated in collusion? Commissioners who turned a blind eye to steroids? Managers who won WS with guys we now know were using steroids?)

  32. Josh L says:

    I’d vote in all but 8 and 9. I would vote in 8 and 9, but only posthumously. Well, I might vote in 9 if he were clearly at the end of his life and has been excluded for decades. If he’s had 40 years of punishment and exclusion, that’s a good enough sentence for me. I’ll forgive him. But the murderer doesn’t get that knowledge in life. By that point, both are likely in the hands of the Veterans Committee anyway.

  33. Other Scott says:

    I feel like for consistency, the answer has to be one of the following:
    a) Only 1 and 2
    b) Only 1, 2, 8
    c) 1, 2, 8, and 10
    d) All but 8
    e) All but 9
    f) All but 8 and 9
    g) All but 8-10
    h) All but 9-10

    If you’re going to punish cheating, you have to punish all cheating. There’s not really any difference between 3-7, they were all used to get a leg up in the game through either ways that are not legal within the game, or ways that are not legal outside the game.

    And it definitely doesn’t make sense to say 3 is OK and 7 is not. Things that were very specifically against the rules of baseball have to be worse cheating than steroids.

    For me, I’d say all but 1. There’s no place for good guys in the Hall of Fame.

    • ksbeck76 says:

      I don’t understand the (common) argument that if you punish one kind of cheating (e.g., steroid use) with exclusion from the Hall, then you have to punish all kinds of cheating (e.g., amphetamine use, spitballs, etc.) with exclusion in the Hall. I think ethics allows (in fact, even dictates) that we take a more nuanced approach to judgment and punishment. To take a more serious example, the criminal justice system makes distinctions between self-defense, manslaughter, 2nd degree murder, 1st degree murder, etc., and measure punishment differently even though all cases involve one person killing another one. While you may find someone’s particular reasoning to be in error (“Gaylord Perry was as big a cheat as Barry Bonds, so why does he get a pass?”), but that doesn’t mean that treating each case individually is logical incorrect or hypocritical.

      • Chris McClinch says:

        I think there’s logical consistency to treating a spitball as different from steroids or amphetamines, but there’s no logical consistency in treating steroids differently from amphetamines. Any moral principle you can come up with for why steroids are cheating apply identically to amphetamines. Illegal? Check. Dangerous? Check. Coercive in nature? Check.

        • ksbeck76 says:

          I guess what I was trying to say is that in trying to create logical consistency between broad categories of cheating, we miss the context and nuance that has to be part of any attempt at rendering fair justice. Amphetamines and steroids both obviously bear many similarities, but I do think there were important differences. For instance, steroid use may have been an open secret, but I’m not sure that it ever got to the point that they were freely and openly passed out in locker rooms, like amphetamines.

          All that being said, I would probably vote for all of them.

    • John Gale says:

      There’s another answer that’s intellectually consistent: voting for all of them. If the player has Bonds-type numbers, a voter can decide to just vote on that and that alone and still be consistent.

  34. Chris McClinch says:

    Count me in the 1-7 camp–at least as long as we’re talking about steroid use pre-testing and penalties. Bonds and Clemens are in my Hall of Fame; Manny and Palmeiro are on the outside looking in. I think it’s a very different thing to have used them in a league where they were commonplace and not tested for than it is to have used them in a league that was presumably clean.

  35. bl says:

    With the rules as they currently exist? I vote them all except 9 and 10.

    If I could start my own HOF from scratch: all of them get in – but no speeches.

  36. Nickolai says:

    Surprised how many people see a clear dividing line between 4 and 5-7. What is it that is so morally different about greenies and ‘roids? Is it just the obscene muscle-mass and enlarged craniums, where greenies didn’t have a visible physical effect?

    Assuming we are operating in a world of perfect knowledge of these players, I would vote for 1-7. 9-10 are clear no’s. Strangely 8 is the hardest for me, but ultimately has to be a no.

  37. Chris McClinch says:

    “Surprised how many people see a clear dividing line between 4 and 5-7. What is it that is so morally different about greenies and ‘roids?”

    I suspect for many, it’s that Mays, Mantle, and Aaron used greenies but not steroids.

    • senorpogo says:

      I believe it is because steroids, HGH…. that sort of thing…. can produce observable, palpable physical manifestations – bulk up, more muscles, etc. With amphetamines, the advantages they provide are not manifest or measurable.

      Greenies may make you play better, but they don’t leave you with a 30-lbs more of muscle or a bigger hat size. Think this is part of the issue

      • Chris McClinch says:

        My response to that would be “so what?” We’re declaring that muscle is the moral principle here? Where would powerlifting or protein shakes fall on that spectrum?

        Because if the standard is that it’s wrong to use drugs illegally to gain an athletic advantage, there’s no moral difference between amphetamines and steroids.

      • senorpogo says:

        I should add – amphetamines help you focus. That’s why they get prescribed to people suffering for attention disorders.

        We don’t think of it like this, but the ability to concentrate or control your attention is a physical activity. It’s not as obvious as throwing, catching, etc.because it involves unobserved neurons firing, but it is a real thing that can be improved or harmed through using various pharmaceuticals.

        The opinion seems to be that making your muscles bigger through drugs is bad, but altering how your neurons fire to make you better is acceptable.

        More so, I think there is a real ignorance to what amphetamines really do. People think they make you jittery and have more energy. True, but they also decrease your reaction time and can increase your muscle strength as well as improve your ability to concentrate.

      • wordyduke says:

        Ah, but Mays, Mantle, and Aaron weren’t working out the way the steroid generation was — lifting, off-season cardio work, etc. Yes, steroids helped permit the extended workouts, but later players would have been stronger with our without steroids.

  38. Jeff says:

    I’ve heard this one before. The doctor is the Hall of Famer’s mother.

  39. Robert says:

    Player 1: Cal Ripken
    Player 2: Barry Bonds
    Player 3: Gaylord Perry
    Player 4: Whitey Ford (or maybe anyone from the ’60’s & 70’s)
    Player 5: Chuck Knoblauch
    Player 6: Mark McGwire
    Player 7: A-Rod
    Player 8: Thankfully no one (dis-honourary OJ Simpson award here)
    Player 9: Hal Chase
    Player 10: Pete Rose (maybe…..)

  40. Alejo says:

    1) If steroids were not forbidden during Bonds career, why did he hid the fact that he was using them?

    2) You know what may help evaluate Bonds’ career? the truth. Knowing when and what did he use may help us see how much is his career influenced by PEDs. Problem is, he is a liar as well as a cheater.

    3) Steroids and growth hormone do have a massive effect on performance. You swear by number and statistics. Statistics are a science that you trust. Maybe you need to trust other sciences that also relie on data, such as medicine and biology. The amount of evidence describing exactly how PEDs work is staggering. Take a moment to check it. Bonds numbers are simply unbelievable without PEDs on the mix.

    4) If his numbers were inflated by PEDs, then his place among the greatest is open to discussion. What is obvious to you seems a shaky case for a lot of us.

    5) As I see it, you are still unable to dismantle Verducci’s case against PED users.

  41. Chris McClinch says:

    1. Why weren’t the players of the ’60s open about amphetamine use? Why was that a scandal when Ball Four came out?

    2. Or you could just say that he put up the numbers he put up in an era when 60% of the league was using.

    3. Take out everything Bonds did post 1999, and he’s still a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

    4. See 3.

    5. What case?

  42. Doug says:

    Telling the truth about steroid use hasn’t exactly helped Mark McGwire’s reputation…

    Re: steroids and performance, I believe that steroids have a real and strong effect on performances. I don’t believe that it’s possible to attribute the power explosion of the 90s, or Bond’s numbers, solely to steroids. There are a lot of other factors that helped contribute to the rise in power – better training and nutrition in general, expansion, more home-run friendly ballparks. And Bonds, although he was helped by steroids, wasn’t a two-bit schmo before using them. We know that, for one thing, because plenty of two-bit schmoes used steroids, and none of them turned into Barry Bonds. And we know that because in the 90s, when the consensus seems to be that he was not a steroid user, he dominated the league. Unless he was doping in already in 1990 – which almost no one seems to think he was – there’s plenty of evidence that Barry Bonds was really, really good at hitting a baseball. And crazy things are more likely to happen with people who are already generational talents.

    That’s also why he has a case as a great player even without the steroids. Even if you plot in a fairly catastrophic decline after 1999, Bonds is still probably the second or third best left-fielder of all time. He’s still probably a member of the 500 HR club (he had 445 at the end of 1999) and somewhere close to 500 SB (he had 460 at the end of 1999). He’s still a 3-time MVP. And all those are accomplishments most people believe he achieved without the use of steroids.

  43. Mike Heithaus says:

    I would vote them all in the HOF. If they didn’t get banned while playing, and thus were able to still put up the numbers, put them in.

    Two other thoughts:
    (1) Couldn’t we solve a lot of these HOF problems by simply refusing to induct players until after their death? Thus, we could celebrate historically great players without honoring them during their lifetimes. We would certainly still hold the likes of Ted Williams, Stan Musial and Hank Aaron in higher regard during their lifetimes than a Pete Rose or Barry Bonds, but we wouldn’t have to fret over whether or not Pete Rose or Barry Bonds deserves to be honored as a HOF’er. They would be deceased by the time of entrance and would receive no lifetime benefit for admittance.

    (2) I seem to recall a Joe Posnanski suggestion from several years ago that would be a different kind of HOF. It would be more of a Hall of the Infamous, rather than a HOF. It would induct the likes of everyone from Pete Rose to Casey at the Bat. The point would be to tell the true story of baseball – highlights, lowlights, and everything in between. At times, it seems the HOF wants to try to be like this, but can’t let go of the “honor” part of its being. I’d love to see a baseball museum that combines the HOF with the HOI. Where a player like Pete Rose gets in, but he is not only celebrated for his achievements, but also derided for his flaws. Maybe we could call it a Hall of Characters – a term that would include the best and the worst.

  44. Adam says:


    8 is the only one I have to think about. I understand those who oppose #8. I wonder if (insert favorite superstar active player not yet eligible for the Hall) was convicted of murder, rape, assault, child abuse, they would really believe said player no longer is deserving off the Hall.

    Likewise, while there’s no formal process to remove a player, I wonder if your favorite enshrined player was convicted of a crime, you’d suggest kicking him out.

    To the greater point, character and morals matter but they aren’t deal breakers. Say you rate player from 1-10 with somewhere around 7.5 being a borderline Hall of Fame player. A 9 or 10 with character issues is still worthy of the Hall. A 7.7 with the same issues falls short.

    I don’t think anything would keep Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter out of the Hall.

  45. Artie says:

    Don’t let #1 in. All that time he was signing autographs and being nice, he should’ve been studying tape and working on his swing. It is so selfish to be honing his personal public image when he could have been improving for the good of the team.

  46. Karyn says:

    4-5-6-7, I’d vote in if their actions were before the CBA that applied testing and punishment.

    8-9-10 are out. This is not that hard.

  47. Blake says:

    1-8. Steroids were as much a part of the game in their era as greenies. Batters using them faced pitchers using them. I like the game better without them, but it was a condition of the ’90s/ ’00s like artificial turf was a condition of the ’70s/’80s.

  48. Dave says:

    All of them. Players 9 and 10 no longer get to be involved with the sport in any organized way (perhaps for a finite period of time, perhaps permanently), but all 10 go into the Hall of Fame.

    • John Gale says:

      This is pretty much where I’m at (though I would think 8 would be banned from organized participation as well). I wouldn’t feel great about voting for some of these (especially 9, mostly because of the word “regularly,” which differentiates the player from a guy like Shoeless Joe), but I’ve always had the position that if the player has a slam-dunk Hall of Fame case based on the numbers, I’d vote for him and let the Hall handle what to put on the plaque.

  49. MCD says:

    1. Yes
    2. Yes. But article 5 of the HOF eligibility requirements certainly gives voters a legitimate reason to vote no (“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”) That is failing 3 of the 6 points.
    3. Qualified yes. Whether I as the voter likes it or not, the mores of “accepted” behavior by the players themselves comes it to play. If player played in an era when throwing a “spitter” was winked upon, yes. Currently, no.
    4. Yes
    5. Yes
    6. No
    7. No
    8. No. But this does lead to the question of the crime occurring after the person already was in the HOF
    9. No
    10. No. Nobody can vote for case 10. Rule 21 d could not be more clear on this subject. Anyone that tries to argue that it doesn’t apply to the HOF induction is trying to rationalize a way Pete Rose to be in. The notion that a person can’t be a ball-boy but *CAN* get the highest individual honor is ludicrous.

  50. BozemanKidd says:

    It really is all about whether the Hall is about history, or honor. The problem is that it really is about both, based on precedent. That said, I don’t like the argument that these people are already discussed in the Hall, so they don’t get HOF plaques. That assumes the only historical role of the HOF is when are there. To most people, most of the time, being “in” the HOF, whether historically, or honorifically, means, “are you on the list of HOFers.” So I don’t think the fact that Clemens may be talked about in the Hall but without a plaque means history has been served. My list:

    Player 1: (e.g., Cal Ripken) Obviously in, no qualms.
    Player 2: (e.g., Reggie Jackson) Obivously in, no qualms. Don’t be afraid to say he was not loved.
    Player 3: (e.g., Gaylord Perry, Ty Cobb). Obviously in , but make an affirmative point of talking about what jerks they were and that there was some bad antics, that they were racists, etc.
    Player 4: (e.g., Whitey Ford) In, with some icky feelings, but make an affirmative point of talking about what they did and how its effect is hard to measure, but that it was not honorable or good.
    Player 5: (e.g., Andy Petite). Petite is not a Hall of Famer I think, but for this type of player, you let them in, and you make an affirmative point of talking about the mistake.
    Player 6: (e.g., Mark McGwire). Here I think it is an “it depends” situation. I know the thought experiment stipulates they are all clear HOFers. But this hypothetical is clearly based on McGwire. He is borderline to me anyway. If the Hall is about history, Joe, you have to be willing to acknowledge how the use of steroids did, unlike amphetamines, really impact numbers. If you have a guy like McGwire, and it turns out he was using like crazy his whole career, and admits it, then historically (not honorifically) I don’t think he makes it. I think it’s fair to deduct, say, 10%, from all of his career numbers (and that may be too kind), and if you do that with McGwire, he is not a HOFer, he’s just not. HOWEVER, if it turns out after the guy falls off the ballot that we discover that 90% or more of players from his era (which would include pitchers) were using roids, then I think it would be appropriate for the Veteran’s Committee to put him in, if the removed deduction from his historical value puts him over the line.
    Player 7: (e.g., A-Rod) Same as above. This is like a combination of #6 and #2. For A-Rod, even if you take 10% or even 20% off his career numbers, like WAR, he is still a HOFer. He gets in. If this were McGwire, then no. And the HOF talks affirmatively about what a jerk he was and how he never came clean and how he is one of the greatest players ever but is a human turd.
    Player 8: (e.g., OJ Simpson, if he had played baseball). I put him in, and talk a lot about it and about how an otherwise great legacy is destroyed. To me the clincher is that he was no longer involved in baseball. I’m not sure playing baseball means you have to live a perfect life even after you retire. Note, by the way, that OJ Simpson is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
    Player 9: (no example known to me, Shoeless Joe (one series)?). This is actually the one that is hardest for me. I think this is the only one I would not let in. There is a character clause in the HOF. That’s something you don’t discuss, Joe, what that character clause means. To me I construe in more narrowly. To me it does not mean you have to be a saint. If others are cheating, or we look the other way about it, it’s not an excluder. But this behavior is so obviously antithetical to the core of the game, to the very idea of sport, that I think I have to say no on this one. I realize there is tension here, and one might say what Clemens may have done was antithetical as well. But what Clemens did was not punishable at the time, and in fact there was some tacit encouragement of these players, from the owners, the fans, and even the media. Throwing games you are playing in is so obviously banned, so historically clear, that for me, #9 does not get in.
    Player 10: (e.g., Pete Rose) I let Pete Rose in, if we can be sure he did not throw games. Here we have a player who from an historical perspective deserves it. We don’t have something that is an Ur violation the way actually throwing games is: we have a rules violation. But it’s not a rules violation that even impacted his historical statistics. To me the only case for keeping Rose out is a moral/honorific one, and I don’t view the Hall that way at a fundamental level.

    There are too many awful human beings in the Hall already for us to be able to say it’s about honor. Otherwise we HAVE to take out Ty Cobb and many others. Cobb does not get a free pass because he happened to get elected before people cared that he was a raging racist. If you don’t think that Clemens or Bonds or Rose or even Rodriguez deserve to be in the Hall, then to be intellectually consistent, I think you have to be willing to take away the plaques of racists like Ty Cobb, you have to be willing to take away the plaques of cheaters like Gaylord Perry, And if it turns out that Hank Aaron was going crazy with amphetimines throughout his career, or we find out that Mickey Mantle was on roids or that Babe Ruth dined on deer velvet every night, you have to be fully willing to remove all of them as well. Are you? Does the idea of that give you pause? If so, that is because you recognize the role of “history” in the Hall. One should look at the players of today not as we see them today, but as part of a record that will only be known and viewed by 99% of people, fifty or a hundred years from now, in terms of, “who has a plaque.”

    • Karyn says:

      I think #9 is Hal Chase. Bill James has a very good essay on Chase in his Historical Abstract.

      Regards Rose, he was so competitive, I think he would never bet against his own team. But other factors come into play–would he run a pitcher into the ground to win his bet? If he doesn’t bet the Reds one night, does that tip off the bookies that Rose doesn’t trust his starter? What if he got in really deep with the bookie–could he be pressured, threatened, blackmailed?

      I think the rule is mostly about throwing games, or the possibility of being seen as maybe throwing games. But there are other aspects to it as well.

      • BozemanKidd says:

        Eh, those second order effects I’m not as worried about. I totally get that what Rose did was wrong, and completely against the rules of baseball. But it’s not like he was throwing games. Even if the bookies are tipped off to something, that’s an impact on the betting market, not an impact on the game…. The guy is a career .300 hitter and the all-time hits leader and should be in the Hall, in my view.

  51. Mike says:

    1-5 In
    6-7 out
    8 In (no outcome on games)
    9-10 Out

  52. John says:

    All except #9, and even that one comes with a time and context caveat in which early players face a fair amount of abuse from ownership. I don’t fault the Black Sox, and the induction of Shoeless Joe, Hal Chase, and Eddie Cicotte would be less of a scare on baseball than Comiskey who is actually in the Hall of Fame.

  53. Sam says:

    1-8 go in, no brainer for me. In that these are cheating, they are cheating so the player can play better.

    9-10, don’t. The “don’t bet on baseball” thing is face pretty darn unambiguous, and raises the specter of players NOT trying their best, which I think is the only thing that keeps you out of the hall.

  54. BozemanKidd says:

    This is an “on the other hand” to my prior comment. Joe, we live in a world where Rabbit Maranville is in the Hall of Fame and Alan Trammell is not. Life ain’t fair. (Rabbit Maranville, who has a lower career JAWS score than Troy Tulowitzki does after nine years, a lower career WAR than Nomar, and who had a .318 career OBP.) Different era, but the Hall has all kinds of problems, not just the issue of Clemens and Bonds.

    In the end, the names maybe don’t matter so much. Oh of course the names matter to those of us who actually saw “our” era’s players play. But in the long run, this is about how we tell history. Maranville was a character and one can tell great stories about him, and one can tell the story of his era using him just as well as one can with other shortstops, and he was great. So while I think Clemens and Bonds should be in, if one day instead we have to tell the history of this era using Frank Thomas instead of Bonds, and using Greg Maddux instead of Clemens, who am I to say that’s the end of the world? The HOF is full of people who weren’t ACTUALLY the best, historically, and lots of people who were better than many in the Hall (like Trammell, after 12 years of eligibility anyway) aren’t in there.

    Thus, the problem is, Joe, that you have an embedded assumption in your argument that Clemens and Bonds belong in because of “history.” This embedded assumption is that the Hall already is an accurate representation of history, from a quality perspective. It is in the rough sense of course. But if some people think the history of this era does not need Bonds and Clemens, as represented by Hall plaques, if some people collectively want to write them out of history, how different really is that from Bill Dahlen being written out of history? That guy was one baseball generation before Maranville, was a vastly superior player it would seem and failed, again, to get in even by the Veteran’s Committee. I get that Bonds is Bonds, but it’s a matter of degree, not of kind. Is it so, so, so much worse to write a man out of history because he probably did lots of steroids than to write him out of history because WAR hadn’t been invented when he played and he was a jerk and played too early in the history of baseball?

  55. BozemanKidd says:

    Here is another thought experiment for people:

    What if it were revealed tomorrow that there was extremely strong circumstantial evidence, but no absolute proof, that Babe Ruth used steroids for the second half of his career? Would you support removing his plaque in the Hall and taking him “out” of the Hall of Fame? If not, but you nevertheless don’t support Bonds’ candidacy, you are either a hypocrite or a racist.

    To remove the racial element, what if it were Hank Aaron? That dude played pretty well when he was quite an old ballplayer, you know…. What if it were Willie Mays?

    Bonds was equivalent too, or better, than these players. Take away 100 of his home runs and he is still Willie Mays, basically.

    Don’t be blinded by the present.

  56. Pat says:

    Trick question: Player 6 couldn’t have “felt badly” about it; he could only feel “bad.” To “feel badly” suggests that the mechanism he uses to feel things is somehow malfunctioning.

    (No points for IDing the movie reference; too easy.)

    (And don’t all clap me on the back at once; I already know you all love me! Ow. Clap a little softer, fellas… I’m starting to think that ain’t clapping.)

  57. Pat says:

    More serious point: Players 5 and 7 appear like they used steroids but never were caught at it. So whatever your soapbox about steroids is, keep in mind you’ve probably already supported the Hall case of players who have used steroids and just had the decency never to get caught and to lie about it.

    To put it less charitably, Cal Ripken Jr. famously struggled with injuries late in a career that featured a memorable feat of improbable durability, and he played in an era during which steroids were widely available, their efficacy for overcoming injuries was widely known, and their effect on offensive production was widely believed. How certain are you that he never used steroids? And yet he’s on everyone’s list as beloved Player Number 1. (Including mine.)

  58. Casper says:

    1-8. Gambling erodes the expectation of fans that the game is legitimate and that the guys are trying to win. Nothing else on this list has that effect and so, in my mind, is not truly detrimental to baseball. Even murder. And the worst you can say about the effect of PEDs on the game is that it distorts the statistics. I say fie on the statistics. Fans are intelligent enough to place statistics in context and correct for PED distortions as one of the changes in the game over time. By all means enforce the rules against PEDs, suspend players, even ban them, do whatever you have to do. But if the player performs, recognize the performance.

    As for my declining to draw a distinction between 9 and 10, it’s because even betting to win exposes the bettor to the risk that they will lose so much money they become pawns to unscrupulous people who could force them to throw games in payment for their debts. Also, even if you only bet on wins: not betting on a game is essentially betting on your team to lose. If a fictitious player-manager (let’s call him Pete) was betting on some games and not others, we might reasonably fear his keeping his best relief pitchers and slightly bruised position players out of games he wasn’t betting on so that he could use them in the games he was.

    I realize I’m rushing past the language in the HOF charter that calls for its honorees to be of high moral character, or whatever the exact phrasing is. In past elections we’ve pretty much allowed that excessive drinking doesn’t matter, adultery doesn’t matter, child abandonment doesn’t matter, taking speed doesn’t matter, rushing the stands and beating up fans doesn’t matter, defacing baseballs and corking bats doesn’t matter, etc., etc. So that horse has already escaped the barn. What matters? Gambling. It’s one of the few areas in all of society where a line has been clearly drawn. Let’s leave it that way.

    Side note: we need to put more guys in the Hall. Induction speeches are marvelous affairs that always bring a lump to my throat. We need to hear two, three, four of them every year.

  59. bpop says:

    I’m not saying I’m putting him in, but if 9 has the same career numbers as everyone else AND he regularly threw games that means he’s the best player out of the bunch.

  60. gene says:

    I would vote YES for everyone except #9 because he is the only player on our list that we know of who intentionally lost games for his team…REGULARLY!

    To me, this is inexcusable. No HOF-caliber accomplishments statistical or otherwise could compensate for this behavior since it betrays your teammates, management, owner and fans. It proactively and directly violates the integrity of the game in that players paid to and expected to do their very best…all of the time. It not only taints the fixed loses that we apparently know of, it also calls into question any other loses in which this player performed below average.

    All of the other players on our list would probably still be wanted by most teams because you could rely on them to help you win games. Player #9, not so much.

  61. DM says:

    I think a lot of people read more into #10 than Joe actually stated.

    #10 reads “Player 10: Gambled on baseball but never threw a game.”

    There’s 2 possibilities there, and, unless I missed it (there have been a ton of posts), Bellweather22 is the only one that even hinted at it. Rule 21d has two different parts:

    (d) BETTING ON BALL GAMES. Any player, umpire, or club official or
    employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in
    connection with which the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared
    ineligible for one year.

    Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall
    bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which
    the bettor has a duty to perform shall be declared permanently ineligible.

    I don’t know whether Joe intentionally worded #10 in the way he did, but Joe’s #10 scenario (gambled on baseball but never threw a game) could imply either of the two portions of 21d. If the person we’re evaluating bet on a baseball game that he was NOT involved in, he’d be out for a year and then presumably back in baseball. So, sure, why not vote for him in that case? If I understand correctly, that’s what happened to Paul Hornung (different sport of course). He bet on football games, got kicked out for a year for “gambling and associating with undesirable persons, he apologized, he came back after a 1 suspension, played 3 more years,and made the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I believe he did not bet on his own team, but rather other teams. I’m not sure there’s any exact precedence in baseball, but if someone bet on other teams, served his time, and came back (or even if he didn’t actually play again), yes, I’d vote for him.

    So, clearly, that’s not Pete Rose’s scenario, as so many people presume that he’s the person representing #10. Pete didn’t get in trouble for gambling on baseball – he got in trouble for betting on games in which he “had a duty to perform”. That’s clearly the more serious rule with the more severe penalty.

    So, Joe…..did you word it that way intentionally? 🙂

    • DM says:

      Clarification on my post above…..where I used the phrase “bet on other teams” (a couple of times in the second to last full paragraph), I should have phrased that as “bet on other GAMES” (that is, games in which the player was NOT directly involved). I should have worded it more carefully. Thanks.

  62. EnzoHernandez11 says:

    Yes on 1-7.

    On 8, I guess it depends on what the circumstances were (“murder” can mean a lot of things).

    No on 9 and 10. Having said that, I would allow Pete Rose the player into the Hall of Fame, even if his brief stint as a player-manager overlapped with his betting. There is, so far as I know, no evidence that Rose bet on baseball in the 60s and 70s when he was an actual star player. Is that too fine a distinction? Maybe, but I’ll go with it.

    • Karyn says:

      I don’t agree that ‘murder’ means a lot of things in this context. Joe said he was convicted, which to me implies it was not justifiable homicide, nor was it manslaughter.

  63. I like these thought experiments. Next you will be moving into “the trolley problem.” Even recognized a couple of ball payers here.

  64. Alejo says:

    1) Is Lance Armstrong the best cyclist ever?

    2) Is Marion Jones the best female T&F athlete ever?

    So, why should be Bonds the best hitter ever?

    • 1) Even with PEDs Lance falls short of best cyclist ever. Eddie Merckx is far and away the best cyclist ever and he has a suspicious doping controversy at the Giro D’Italia. Bernard HInault is arguably 2nd with no drug scandal to speak of. Jacques Anquetil and Fausto Coppi are higher in my books and cycled in eras where riders said anyone who wasn’t doping wasn’t worth talking about. They are both well respected and accepted as the greats of cycling. Cycling may have the most sordid history in doping, but also the most stringent legacy for testing and doing something about it. As Joe’s posts and HoF voting shows, this isn’t a simple straight forward issue.

      Bonds already looked to be one of the greatest hitters ever before his head size ballooned due to PEDs.

  65. Mati says:

    My first inclination was to say I would vote for all 10
    I agree with the approach that the HoF should include the best players. Not necessarily the best characters
    However on second reflection since the HoF does belong to the public I could not vote for numbers 8 and 10 , since these are two cases of acts of crime against the public – 8 obviously and 10 since it actively defrauds the team of its chance of winning. And most probably illegal.

  66. John Leavy says:

    Here’s a question for Joe: IF we accept the argument that enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is NOT an honor… then why should it bother you so much that Buck O’Neill DOESN’T have a plaque in the Hall of Fame?

    After all, from a purely statistical standpoint, Buck is a marginal case at best. His numbers do NOT make him a slam dunk Hall of Famer by any means. So, why does it gnaw at you so much that he hasn’t been elected?

    The answer is simple: it’s because election to the Hall of Fame IS a huge honor, and you know it. It’s an honor you want for your friend.

    So, don’t pretend it wouldn’t be an honor for Barry Bonds, too.

    • Mike G says:

      Buck clearly falls in the bucket with contributors…from a historical perspective, Buck has a compelling case based on his contributions to the game as a player, scout, coach, and most importantly, ambassador for the game.

      Joe knows the induction is an honor for the individual, but thinks that is secondary to the HoF as reflecting the historical record.

  67. DM says:

    More HOF thoughts…..

    Someone on one of the posts (might have been in another thread) referenced something that Jeff Idelson said regarding the purpose of the Hall of Fame being to honor people who’ve been elected to the Hall of Fame. It has nothing to do with who the best players were.

    I think it’s telling to see what the HOF web site actually says:

    As to what the Hall of Fame’s purpose is, their own home page has a banner statement of “Preserving history, honoring excellence, connecting generations”. OK…maybe that’s more a marketing statement, but still….Honoring excellence…..sounds like one of the key components to me, to honor those who exhibited greatnes.

    Idelson is also quoted on their web site that “In all cases, as an educational institution and history museum, our job is to supply the facts and put stories into context, letting visitors and students make their own value judgments about how they feel about all topics related to baseball.”

    Another, in response to how the HOF would handle someone elected who took steroids and how the plaque would read: “As is the case with the Museum experience, the Hall of Fame does not pass value judgments. Plaques highlight the Hall of Fame achievements of a player’s career, with the text measuring approximately 90 words. ”

    As to the rules for election, he says: “Rules for election instruct voters to consider a player’s career on the field. In addition to playing record and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played, voters are instructed to consider character, integrity and sportsmanship as criteria for election. These are guidelines. The voters are asked to cast their ballots individually, voting for zero to 10 candidates they believe are worthy of Hall of Fame”

    Chewing on that one……”these are guidelines”. Certainly encourages a lot of freedom of individual interpretation, I think.

    The famous “character” clause……it was not part of the original election criteria. According to the web site under Rules History: “Character, Integrity, Sportsmanship – Implemented in 1945. Rule applies to how the game was played on the field, more so than character off the field. ” Again, I believe that is open to a fair amount of individual interpretation. What would you consider to be character, integrity, and sportsmanship PLAYED ON THE FIELD vs. OFF THE FIELD? Was the rule designed to give an extra edge to those that displayed these high ideals between the lines, rather than what type of person they were when not playing?

    Also, regarding that rule 5, the “character” clause: “5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” My understanding is that the people responsible for creation of this rule were Stephen Clark (founder) and Commissioner Landis. My understanding also is that they framed it not so much to be exclusionary, but inclusionary. It is commonly mentioned that Landis was a proponent of being able to honor players like Eddie Grant, who wasn’t much of a player but who was Harvard-educated and was a war hero. Grant never made it, of course, but supposedly that was the type of person that they had in mind when crafting it.

    If that’s the case, maybe the spirit of the “character clause” is to allow voters expand the pool of candidates by including those who maybe weren’t the best of players, but who brought these other virtues to the table. In other words, maybe the character clause is intended to provide “OR” logic rather than “AND” logic. Stated another way……maybe you don’t have to have a great record AND great ability AND integrity AND sportsmanship AND character AND contribute to the team, but perhaps be able to provide enough of any or all of the above in sufficient amounts to warrant election. Maybe, just maybe, you don’t have to hit on all cylinders, and maybe failure to meet one or two of these shouldn’t be enough to disqualify you.

    Obviously, all of the above is open to individual interpretation, which why we have these discussions in the first place. Something to chew on…..


  68. largebill says:

    1 – 7 Yes
    8, 9 & 10 No. Gambling is an existential threat to the game and murder is pretty bad too.

  69. No to #9, yes to everything else

  70. Anthony says:

    1 to 8…unless…unless player 8 killed someone in baseball. Then I’d need to think harder…

  71. wogggs says:

    1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 10

  72. Bob Lince says:


  73. Owen says:

    Yeah, I don’t think I can let #8 in. I mean, imagine the whole O.J. thing happened two years after he retired. Are we still voting that guy in? I’ll take the, “but he was a no-doubt HOFer on the field” argument pretty far, but murder crosses the line for me, and I don’t really have to think about it that hard.

  74. chazzykc says:

    all in except 9. Include background of contentious issues on plaque……its silly, judgmental and, ultimately prejudicial to pretend that field based accomplishments never happened.

  75. GENE says:

    Finally, more people coming to see that #9 is by far the weakest candidate and the only player on the list that we know of who intentionally lost games for his team. To me, this is inexcusable. No HOF-caliber accomplishments could compensate for this behavior since it betrays your teammates, management, owner and fans. It violates the integrity of the game in that players are expected to do their very best all of the time. It not only taints the fixed loses we know of, it would also call into question any other loses in which this player performed below average.

  76. Brian says:

    #1 Yes
    #2 Yes
    #3 probably, depending on details (e.g. likely no on corked bat)
    #4 Yes – similar to energy drinks today
    #5 No, unless I absolutely knew he only used steroids a few times. Impossible to know.
    #6 No – massively distorted numbers due to steroids + cheating
    #7 No – see #6
    #8 Possibly, but would depend on details
    #9 No
    #10 No

    Sure it’s judgmental. On field accomplishments are not equal when one player is juiced and the other is not. Pretending otherwise makes no sense. If the estimates of ~50+% of players used steroids for a generation, then I have no problem with them not tarnishing/diminishing the HOF. Similar to the Tour de France, nearly all the past 15 years of winners have been disqualified for cheating.

    It’s a honor to be elected. While the HOF is also ” a historical record of the best players ever” (Joe’s words), it is precisely because of steroids that it’s now a mess to try to determine the best players. Juiced numbers mean watered down numbers. They don’t mean the same as from previous eras. I’d like to see estimates of Mays, Ruth, Williams on steroids and their records. It would blow the doors off the record books – artificially and falsely. Why should we let Bonds, etc. do the same?

  77. D Smith says:

    I think the problem with Pete Rose is he got caught betting at a bad time, when there was virtually no other big problems in baseball. Pete Rose gets caught betting on games during the steroid era and I think it’s not a lifetime ban or hall of fame ban.

  78. Brad says:

    Assuming that these hypothetical individuals are actually ELIGIBLE for the Hall of Fame (in spite of their real or perceived demerits), given the premise, ALL BUT #9 would get my support.

  79. Leonard says:

    I agree with the assessment that the negatives of player 2 (unlikeability, terrible teammate) would only come into play if they were a borderline candidate for the Hall-of-Fame. I could overlook the steroid use of player 5 and 6 because their use was so pervasive in the 90’s and 2000’s, which resulted in pressures to use these drugs to remain competitive as a major leaguer. However, my sympathies would not extend to those who refuse to admit to their transgressions. I am particularly irked about the case of Roger Clemens. Clemens is often cited as the greatest pitcher of his era — in large part because of the longevity of his dominance. But lets compare him to another pitcher, who I believe to be the greatest of his era – Pedro Martinez. In comparison to Clemons, Martinez’s career trajectory followed the historical norm of most pitchers. That is, after he turned 30, Martinez remained a good but no longer dominant pitcher. Clemons would have followed the same career trajectory as Martinez without the steroids. Look at his final seasons with Boston, when the Red Sox thought he was on the downside of his career. Amazingly, he recaptured his youthful dominance after he was traded and a maintained it till his late 30’s. Without the steroid use, it would be more obvious that Clemons’ overall pitching record falls short of Pedro Martinez. Clemons needs to come clean to put his career in perspective in comparison to his colleagues.

    In regards to player 8: while i would not revoke a person’s place in the Hall-of-Fame if he was convicted of murder after his induction, I would have a very hard time voting for a person who committed such an evil.

    Which bring up Player 10, which is about Peter Rose. With Rose there are two issues involved: his inclusion in the Hall-of-Fame and his banishment from Baseball. These two issues do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. While there may be a strong argument to exclude Rose from induction into the Hall-of-Fame due to his betting on Baseball, I do not see what is the further purpose of his continued banishment from Baseball. It has been 25 years and he has served his time. He has finally owned up to his guilt and understands that he alone was the cause of his downfall. He has a great passion for baseball, great respect for the fans, and much to contribute to the game. From reading his comments, he understands the harm he caused and will make amends if given the opportunity. It is time to end his banishment. The Hall-of-Fame is a different issue, and I doubt if he will ever get enough votes to be voted in during his lifetime.

  80. Jeremy says:

    They all go in… oit’s about the game of baseball, nothing else. There are plenty of bad guys in the hall already.

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