Tuesday, August 02, 2005

More on Raffy

I'm shockingly disappointed with three of my favorite baseball writers.

Last night I watched Hall of Fame voters Buster Olney and Timmy Kurkjian both say on SportsCenter they would still put Raffy in Cooperstown on the first ballot, though they both admitted they don't think he'll get enough votes for a museum plaque.

Buster argued that despite the positive test, Raffy still must be lumped in with all the other future Hall candidates that might have taken steroids. Timmy said he couldn't withhold a yea vote because of his overpowering career numbers. Numbers-man Jayson Stark then weighed in this morning with his own online analysis, calling Raffy still worthy of the Hall.

What the fuck is wrong with these guys? How much more proof do you need? How can you even look at those numbers without the cloudy lens of steroids? This guy cheated. And he got caught (a bigger sin, perhaps). He may or may not have lied to Congress, he may or may not have just started taking them, but he cheated. He tested positive for steroids, and now he's out. There is no such thing as "I didn't do it intentionally" -- Raffy was under such a microscope after those hearings that he should have been smart enough to know exactly what he had been putting in his body. His excuses are his own.

And, to me, no excuse will forgive him of this transgression. If Pete Rose is on the outside looking in for his crimes, there's no chance in hell Rafael Fucking Palmiero gets my imaginary vote. If Ron Santo can't get in, if Jim Rice can't find the votes, if Goose Gossage and Donnie Baseball are having trouble, there's no way Raffy and his Scarlet S deserve the honor. The 3,000 hits and 600 homeruns are excellent accomplishments, but after yesterday, they're tainted like week-old yogurt.

Besides, Raffy wasn't exactly a lock to begin with: He's only been an All-Star four times in 20 seasons, he's never even been close to an MVP Award (fifth-place in '99 was his best finish) and he's only been in the top five in batting average twice and hits three times. He did win the Gold Glove at first base three times, but his 1999 award came after he played just 28 games in the field!

Raffy is a very, very good baseball player, but he wasn't definitely "in" before. Now I don't think he's even on the cusp. And I'm stunned that those three ESPN writers chose to show support for him, even if it does turn out to be a mistake. We wanted proof. Well, we got proof. Now we're just going to ignore that smoking gun because he's a good guy? Because he pointed a finger at Congress (I know we'd all love to point a finger at those fuckers, but c'mon)? That makes no sense to me. Maybe I'm preaching to the choir, but the ESPN Three should be better than that.

They should be more like SI.com's Tom Verducci. Verducci and I agree on just about everything concerning the Raffy issue. Check out his take in today's column. Verducci asks himself if he'd voted for Palmiero for the Hall, and I love his answer:

"I haven't made up my mind five years in advance. But I will say this: It's hard for me to imagine voting for Palmeiro the first year he's eligible as if his steroid use never happened at all. It must be considered as an important part of his career, just like all those hits and home runs. I have a hard time believing that I could send him happily into the Hall on the first try as if nothing so wrong ever happened. I'm not sure yet if I'd ever vote for him -- time and hopefully more information will tell -- but I am troubled by the idea of giving him a free pass when he is a confirmed steroid user."

Well said, Tom. And over on MDS' blog, he quotes the president as saying Raffy should be believed when he said he never used steroids, then brings up this fact that his slipped so far under the radar I haven't read it anywhere: "Palmeiro and his homemaker wife donated $8,000 to Bush's 2004 campaign."

So, we'll see how the voters treat Big Mac in 2007, and then eventually, we'll see how they treat Raffy. But at least you know where the Ace Cowboy stands. And that's important, bitches.

Slack Semantics Link of the Afternoon: Get ready, we're about to see a Big Blob of Red. "Nearly 10,000 troops are to take part in unprecedented joint military exercises by China and Russia this month aimed at strengthening ties between the armed forces of two powers that were once bitter foes." The best part of these Joint Commie War Games? China's calling them "Peace Mission 2005" exercises. Lovely.

Slack Blogosphere Link of the Afternoon: "The blogosphere is continuing to grow, with a weblog created every second, according to blog trackers Technorati. In its latest State of the Blogosphere report, it said the number of blogs it was tracking now stood at more than 14.2 million blogs, up from 7.8 million in March. It suggests, on average, the number of blogs is doubling every five months." Hmm, competition. I welcome those newbies to the blogosphere. Jump in, the water's warm. It's fun here.

Slack Movie/Sports/Friends Link of the Afternoon: Hidden in our favorite SI.com reporter's latest column about Curtis Withers and the U-21 National Team is this nugget about Bottle Rocket, which we discussed at length last week:

"The team did not, to the best of my knowledge, do a Bottle Rocket tour of Dallas, but I did. Texan friend David (who provided a Big Baby comment in my previous column) was a solid BR tour guide, navigating to the house Frank Lloyd Wright built in 1950 for oilman John A. Gillin, immortalized in Wes Anderson-and-the-Wilsons' first film as 'Bob Mapplethorpe's House' -- none other than the place where Dignan (Owen C. Wilson) utters the classic line, 'How does an a--hole like Bob get such a nice kitchen?'

As far as I could tell from the front gate, Bob's digs were under massive renovations, possibly in the process of building an even nicer kitchen. David has an unhealthy obsession with Wes-and-the-Wilsons, after attending their same Dallas prep school (St. Mark's, which appears as 'Grace's school' in BR) and belonging to the Wilson's parents' real-life country club, at which I made like Mr. Henry and Applejack mooching off of Bob, and scored a free lunch. SI thanks you, Dave."


At 5:16 PM, Blogger ahren said...

i don't hold steroid use against players at all, so perhaps my opinion is worthless here (or everywhere), but i don't think "cheating" to gain an advantage is anywhere near as bad as what pete rose did.

i have nothing against gambling itself, obviously. but the problem with mixing gambling and baseball, like he did, is that it calls into question the integrity of the entire sport, whereas with steroids or bat-corking or ball-scuffing, at least they're cheating to win.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger ahren said...

also, i argue that pete rose, aside from his personal and legal problems, maybe doesn't belong in the hall of fame based on his merit as a player.

from 1979 until the end of his career, he played 1b (and pinch hit). these are his sluggin percentages in those years -- .430, .354, .390, .338, .286, .337, .319, .270

that's putrid and way below replacement level for his position. that's quite a long period where his team was saddled with a gigantic hole in the lineup.

his lifetime ops is .784 -- you don't find many HOF of/1b with an ops that low. in his career, he finished in the top 10 in ops only 3 times, finishing 3rd, 7th, and 5th.

he was a terrible basestealer, stealing 198 and getting caught 149-- 57%-- well below a productive ratio. you also have to wonder if all the "extra bases" he "hustled" in his career comes anywhere close to erasing the damage of the extra outs he ran into on the bases needlessly.

pete rose is no doubt an exciting, unique, and memorable player, but looking at it realistically he was a good player for most of his career, a very good player for a couple years, an excellent player for 3 years, and a detriment to his team for a fairly long period.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger Justin said...

He cheated. I agree.

MLB needs to do something to make a serious example out of him. Like, BAN him from the Hall of Fame. That'd show 'em...

At 9:19 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

I knew I shoulda left Petey out of this...I didn't mean to say they were equal, just meant to say that he messed with the game and he's paying for it. It's a deterrent, a real-life deterrent against gambling. Maybe voters need to keep Raffy out of the Hall for the same reason. Rose has a black mark, and Raffy should have one too. That's all I meant to imply.

As far as Pete Rose as a player in the Hall goes...I mean, c'mon, Ahren. All you need to know is:


That's it. He's in.

At 10:15 AM, Anonymous SpanishMiguel said...

1. I HATE how writers perpetuate this myth about the Hall of Fame, like it's the greatest thing that ever happened, and it's all players and fans care about. Really, it's all writers care about. They're the ones who vote and cover it. I mean, Ryne Sandberg was just sent in to the hall this weekend. Awesome. Can't tell you how much I didn't care. I'm sure Cubs fans are more concerned with Prior's elbow and Derrek Lee.

2. There is also a stupid idea that the HOF should admit players based on their numbers. My question is, why the hell are there voters, then??? I mean, HOF candidacy should be decided by the shared opinion of a few hundred guys who pay close attention to MLB over the course of 20-30 years - NOT by math. It's a sham that we currently have these voters deciding based on just numbers. Of course, it's a sham I don't care all that much about (see 1.)

3. ACE! You agree with Verducci? You think not voting for RP on the first ballot, but probably voting for him on a later ballot, is the way to go? That's ridicurous posturing by a writer to make him feel like he's teaching someone a lesson, when he actually ain't doing nuthin. My mom does shit like that all the time.

At 10:22 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Spanish, your issues with your mother aside...

And what are you talkin' about? Verducci didn't say he'd probably vote for him on a later ballot...in fact, he said he's not so sure he'd ever vote for him -- time will tell.

Also, I disagree with your assessment of the Hall. Just because you couldn't care less doesn't mean other people share your apathetic views. I care about the Hall, and I'm no HOF voter/writer.

At 10:40 AM, Blogger ethan said...

so why are steroids much worse in everyone's minds than say, corked bats, spit balls, nail files, etc? why are certain performance enhancers worth a greater penalty than others?

i've said this before, but i don't really care about the steroid issue. if baseball wants to clean it up, then fine. but there were hundreds of players using in the late 90's/early 00's and how can you possibly sort them out? mcgwire/bonds/sosa get in the hall but raffy doesn't? just because he tested positive and they didn't doesn't mean they weren't using.

and what if they were using for part of their career but not all? what then? there's just too much gray area.

i think the suspensions are fine. one of the steps already is a lifetime ban.

as to raffy - if he's such a juice head, how come he's (a) more or less the same body type he has been since the 80's, and (b) he never spent a day on the DL in his career?

At 11:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ace, we agree to disagree on the HOF being totally irrelevant. And you know what? That's not the only place we disagree.

Buster Olney - this guys sucks deNiro's nipples. I can't take him. He's a Yankee puppet, a consistent Met basher, he's ugly, he looks like a 13 year old girl and sounds like one, too. Did I mention he sucks Yankee pene more than Michael Kaye? 'Cause it's true, he does.

The one place you and I do agree, however? Max Kellerman - I like him.

At 11:11 AM, Anonymous SpanishMiguel said...

that last comment was mine.


At 11:21 AM, Blogger MDS said...

"as to raffy - if he's such a juice head, how come he's (a) more or less the same body type he has been since the 80's, and (b) he never spent a day on the DL in his career?"

With all due respect, that comment shows you know nothing about steroids. The steroid Palmeiro tested positive for is stanozolol, which enhances lean muscle but isn't known for creating bulk. That's why it's a popular steroid for sprinters and athletes in sports with weight classes, like wrestling. So if, as you say, his body type hasn't changed, that's why. Also, there is zero evidence that people taking stanozolol have more injuries than "clean" athletes, and in fact it's sometimes used to help athletes recover from injuries, so your statement that he has never been on the DL in no way suggests he wasn't taking it.

At 11:43 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Thanks for the back-up, MDS...although to be fair, I also know nothing about steroids. So I appreciate the knowledge.

First of all, Spanish, Buster Olney is the man. Say one more bad word about him and face my wrath. It's a good wrath.

Now, I've argued before that I don't care about the ateroids issue. And I think I care a bit less than this post would indicate actually. But I just don't get how you can test positive for steroids and still be looked at the same as the day before you tested positive. There's conjecture, rumor, speculation and a whole slew of other Paul Simon words -- but then there's evidence and fact. And Raffy was unlucky enough to be caught. If Barry and Mac got caught, I'd say the same things about them.

The interesting point I will concede surrounds Gaylord Perry, Whitey Ford and the scuffers. Would I throw those guys out of the Hall? Never. But those guys ran the risk of getting caught and getting suspended to, they just didn't. The real question would be if Joe Niekro was good enough for the Hall, would he not get in because of the flying emery board...and I'm not sure what the answer is.

All I know is, the guy got busted. Red-handed. And if the Ben Johnson steroid stuff turns out to be correct and confirmed, it's even worse for him than previously thought, because tha's the real deal and he DEFINITELY intentionally used it.

This post is about my disappointment in people saying he's the same player the day before getting caught as the day after. And I think that's complete bullshit. As Raffy would say, "Period."

At 1:42 PM, Blogger ahren said...

sosa got caught with the corked bat. is he out too?

buster olney is the worst-- i agree with whomever said that. he makes jayson stark look like a genius.

At 5:44 PM, Blogger ethan said...

MDS - thanks for the roids info. you are correct in that i know little of stanozolol (i had yet to even know that was his accused drug when i made that comment). my only point follow up is about the DL - if we are going to assume raffy used roids for the last 10 years, it seems unfair to assume that he has exclusively used stanozolol, right? and if it keeps your body type the same and injuries down, why wouldn't all the other roiders have used the same one?

and just now i saw that he's willing to show the test results to congress. something's not on the level here, no?

At 10:31 AM, Blogger MDS said...

My feeling is we really have no way of knowing what roids Raffy has used throughout his career. Hell, maybe the reason his body type hasn't changed is that he's been using roids since he was a teenager. Maybe the long-term roid use is what caused his erectile dysfunction and led to his Viagra endorsement deal. Who the hell knows? The only thing we have to go on is Raffy's word, and I don't think anyone except George W. Bush is willing to trust that right about now.


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