Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Bruce Jenkins vs. Ann Killion Debate Over Steroids Players Entering Cooperstown

Bruce Jenkins: My choices are all about the best playes, period. I don't have time for the moralistic preaching, and the Hall of Fame has no business pretending its membership stands for "character" or the very finest of upstanding humanity.

Ann Killion: I, too, like my colleague Bruce Jenkins, have to follow my instincts when I fill out my Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. And I've decided that, right now, I won't vote for players who willfully, systematically cheated the game and tainted not only their era but the entire baseball history book.

Killion: The vote-'em-in gang resorts to name-calling, saying voters like me are being sanctimonious, moralistic, holier-than-thou.

Let me tell you what my ballot says under Paragraph 5, titled "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.

Jenkins: Over time, you come to acknowledge the cavernous gap between professional beseball and the game we loved as kids. you learn of players meticulously corking their bats or scuffing up baseballs (a ticket to the Hall of Fame for Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford and many others). You sense a quiet, relentless desperation among veterans, always seeking "edge" and willing to do just about anything to get there.

Killion: The steroid story, as we've learned in 2012, is not a closed chapter. It continues to play out and in 15 years, with baseball under a new commissioner and with the perspective of time, the story and its falout may look different. I could change my mind and check the box next to Barry Bonds.
But I can't do it right now.

Jenkins: As the years passed, and I came to flee Bonds' toxic persona, I loved hearing those stories from the other side: talk of Bonds' patience in the box, how he'd never swing at a bad ball, how he'd somehow keep those dead-pull line drives fair, how he so often knew what pitch was coming, how he could definitively spot breaking pitches in mid-flight, how his swing was a gift from the gods, how you'd be a fool not to stop and watch the man take batting practice. As the science of hitting evolved through its most elite practitioners - Ty Cobb to Rogers Hornsby to Ted Williams to George Brett, to name a few- Bonds was unquestionably the master of his time.

So forgive my disgust over writers becoming the arbiters of baseball morality, making the vote all about themselves, or saying, oh my goodness, they just can't decide. Be damned the revisionist history claiming that Sosa and Mark McGwire actually didn't part the emotional seas, or that Bonds-Eric Gagne was a phony at-bat. And take a tip: Decades from now, when performing-enhancing substances have been refined and universally approved throughout sports, people will look back with amusement upon these days of Cooperstown anxiety.

(the debate was taken further by Larry Krueger and Ann Killion on 680AM, KNBR, this morning. Her debate didn't hold water but she believes what she believes. He was going the route of "characters" in the Hall. The Paragraph 5 that Killion seems to be basing her reason for not voting for those who "cheated." If everyone was doing something and the owners and commissioner chose to look the other way then it must have been okay. Nothing was done about it. All the gate receipts were accepted and no money was returned to those who felt "cheated." And so it goes. Thanks to Bruce Jenkins, Ann Killion and Larry Krueger for their input on a hot topic.)

Kevin Marquez