Neate Sager is a copy editor and sports columnist for the Ottawa Sun. He can also be read at Out of Left Field, which is undergoing some tweaking but obsesses mostly over the Blue Jays, Toronto Raptors, football and Canadian university sports. Neate's work was selected as Notable Sports Writing of 2004 in The Best American Sports Writing 2005, making the Simcoe (Ont.) Reformer the smallest Canadian daily newspaper ever to be acknowledged in the annual collection. He has also written for Deadspin, Quill & Quire and sportsnet.ca and makes occasional appearances on Offsides, Kingston, Ont., campus radio CFRC 101.9 FM's 4-5 p.m. Friday afternoon sports roundtable (www.cfrc.ca). He divides his time between Ottawa, Toronto and Kingston.
The funny thing is, I’ve been following Neate around for quite some time without realizing it as we’ve both logged time in Ottawa, tobacco country (Delhi and Simcoe) and the 1000 Islands (Gananoque and Kingston). Well, it’s hard not to see fate arranging things for us to work together on Tim Raines HOF candidacy. At least we hope it’s fate and not the furies at work or we’re both quite frankly screwed.
While Neate has been referenced on the site, he’s done an original piece on Raines that can be read here. As I mentioned to Neate earlier today, its up to we hosers (eh?) in the Canadian media to carry the torch for the best leadoff hitter in NL history.
So, welcome aboard Mr. Sager--oh yeah, it’s your turn to buy the beer.
A good question …
In a different post, the always insightful Jonathan Hale from The Jays Nest and his own blog The Mockingbird (and a fellow hoser who has contributed to The Hardball Times eh?) asked an interesting question. It is one that I hadn’t really thought much about (which is odd for such an opinionated soul such as myself):
“Ok, trick(y) question...if you would vote for Clemens, what about Rose? Does he still get the shaft because the rule he broke wasn't tacitly allowed? The moral quagmire deepens...”
I think Rose should bunt …
Well, gambling in any form has always been the game’s biggest no-no since the Black Sox. There are posted rules in every major league player area about gambling but not for steroids. However, I don’t think that’s his question. The thing is, I’ve always been a big believer in second chances--provided of course there has been a change in behaviour.
Had Pete Rose gone into then commissioner Bart Giamatti’s office and said, “Mr. Commissioner, I have a problem--a big one. I need help. It’s so bad that I have done the following …” and then fully disclosed his transgressions and sought treatment; chances are, he would have been suspended for a time (which is only right and proper) and later brought back into baseball in some limited capacity and been eligible for the Hall of Fame.
If he’s ineligible, I wouldn’t vote for him (apart from the obvious logistics). I would vote (at this point) for him to go on the ballot and take his chances with the BBWAA. I wouldn’t vote for him for the Hall myself. However, if he actually did see the light and demonstrated over a number of years that he has beaten his problem, is no longer embarrassing baseball and himself, and was reinstated. I probably would vote yes.
His credentials are overwhelming.
Despite what I’ve written, I don’t like steroids in the game. I don’t like the fact that only Caucasians could play in MLB before 1947. I don’t like amphetamines and Astroturf either. I will still pick the best of those eras for the Hall of Fame. As to steroids specifically, all I ask is for consistency--it was an era where everybody knew … including the media. Don’t let the self-serving, sanctimonious braying fool you--they knew. Heck, I wrote the following for TOTK.com in July 2001:
“I've had friends who juiced, and after a while you begin to be able to distinguish who's doing it and who isn't. Granted, there are exceptions (some people suffer from body acne post-adolescence, and male pattern baldness early in life simply due to nature and it isn't a positive indication of steroid use). I've been in a few major league clubhouses (although I try to avoid "the beat" as often as possible) and at the risk of sounding like I'm propagating National Enquirer style innuendo--well, you can see that it's more prevalent than MLB officialdom would let on. I've used creatine at various points and can tell you that it doesn't give "the massive gains" that some of their alleged proponents claim.
I wasn’t even a regular in the clubhouse--I have seen enough guys on steroids in my life to have a pretty good idea what a guy roiding looks like. I saw what I saw and wrote what I had seen without qualification.
Again--the media knew.
Anyway, I have no problem barring players from the Hall of Fame as long as everybody else involved is barred as well; owners, G.M.s managers, coaches, writers--the whole works. If Buck Weaver’s banishment provides a precedent, then even non-juicing players that knew are out as well. I don’t like the idea of having a few high profile players take the fall for an entire era while everybody else skates. As Larry Starr said (and I cited earlier):
“I don't totally blame the players, they didn't abuse the system. They used the system.”
Either everybody who was part of the system is eligible or not. We cannot pick and choose who suffers for the sins of the steroid era.