Wednesday, January 9, 2008

The Mike Gill Show: The Hall of Fame edition…

We know the drill. Today, on ESPN 1450’s Mike Gill Show we shall discuss the following topics:

  • Roger Clemens vs. Brian MacNamee--who do you believe?
  • What did you think regarding their phone conversation and Clemens on ‘60 Minutes’?
  • The Hall of Fame vote: Is this the worst class and ballot ever?
  • Will Clemens make the Hall--will McGwire get in?

Roger Clemens vs. Brian MacNamee--who do you believe? -- What did you think regarding their phone conversation and Clemens on ‘60 Minutes’?

I think we really cannot deal with the one question without involving the other. To begin with, the phone conversation sounded scripted somewhat. At the very least, it struck me as the type of veiled discussions we hear when they know a third party might be listening in. One would assume that if they felt they were having a private conversation they wouldn’t be dancing around the subject as much as they were. It reminded me of Jason Giambi’s apology after his Grand Jury testimony went public.

Some of the blanks and bleeps were suspiciously long. Even Andrew Dice Clay at his nastiest couldn’t cobble together enough profanity for pauses and edits like that. Quite frankly, neither party is truly credible. MacNamee’s past hardly inspires trust. However, investigators in all this seem less than believable either. Agent Jeff Novitsky has had it in for baseball players for quite some time--especially Barry Bonds.

Now, according to Clemens’ suit against his former trainer McNamee told Rusty Hardin's (Clemens' lawyer) investigators about how both a federal prosecutor and federal agent told MacNamee that he already had two strikes against him (owning and dealing anabolic steroids) and a third (lying to a federal agent) could land him in the hoosegow. After informing the trainer of this, the feds then asked “So what about Clemens?”

The agent, according to MacNamee, said that since he worked so closely with Clemens, he should know that the pitcher was taking steroids. A document was then proffered to McNamee with the statement, ‘We know about (sic) more about you than you know about yourself ... You're going to jail’ and followed that remark with 'Let's go back to when you first met Clemens in '98.'

That sounds like the feds had the verdict in and were now making the case and influencing witnesses. If this is true, it helps Clemens. It would be par for the course for Novitsky. It almost sounds like they want another big fish and are zeroing in on “the Rocket.”

Of course, Roger blew a lot of his believability by going from ‘Brian MacNamee never injected me with anything’ to ‘Brian MacNamee injected me but not with steroids.’

As to “60 Minutes,” it was a good show but didn’t really strike me as substantive. Mike Wallace struck me as a guy who was giving a friend a platform to tell his side of a story rather than digging for the truth--but that’s just me. As of right now, I’m on the fence regarding Clemens guilt or innocence. We need more information one way or the other to come up with a verdict at this point.

The Hall of Fame vote: Is this the worst class and ballot ever?

Goose Gossage was a good pick. The rest of the ballots defied credulity. It looks like Jim Rice will go in next year--however he’s far from the most qualified candidate. I’m of the opinion that Rice wasn’t even the best outfielder on his own team. Dwight “Dewey” Evans was every bit as good an offensive player as Rice and miles apart defensively. Andre Dawson is better than Rice, Tim Raines is better than Rice, Dale Murphy is at least as good as he is and perhaps better. Alan Trammell is probably among the top five best shortstops in AL history.

There is no reason Rice should go in before Trammell, Murphy, Dawson and Raines. Dewey Evans has to wait for the veteran’s committee. I think Bert Blyleven deserves induction and he may join the class of ‘09. Jack Morris is an interesting question; I think he’s better than the sabermetric group says he is, but nowhere near as good as the traditional stats crowd opines. He wouldn’t be the worst pitcher in the Hall of Fame but that’s hardly an argument in his favour either.

I would have no problem seeing Tommy John go in. He had a tremendous career and I think his being a ‘pioneer’ of sorts pushes him over the top. I’m sad to see Dave Concepcion go off the ballot. Unfortunately, shortstops like Cal Ripken, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter make his totals look anemic but at the time, he was among the best in the business at short. I’m not heartbroken over Mark McGwire’s exclusion. I’d prefer to get a better handle on the steroid era before passing judgement. Make no mistake, all the Mitchell Report did was confirm the era--not define it.

A final thought on the vote: I would strip the privilege from any BBWAA member that submitted a blank ballot. It’s their job to vote--not make personal or political statements. There were many players on the ballot with no taint of steroids for whom they could have voted. It is penalizing innocent players and that’s just plain wrong.

Further, I loath the hypocrisy of it all; if the media didn’t know steroids were prevalent then they lack the proper cognitive skills to vote intelligently. I’m an infrequent member of ‘the beat’ and I knew what was going on. I even wrote about it 7-8 years ago. If a part time hack like me could tell--then anybody could. The BBWAA is acting like Bud Selig in trying to paint themselves as protectors of the game and punisher of ‘the steroid cheats.’ They lacked the backbone to say anything at the time and now they decide to stand up and be counted?


To me, it’s like badmouthing the school bully after he moves 1000 miles away. Here’s an idea, let’s make the BBWAA of the steroid era ineligible for the Frick Award. Too harsh? O.K. how about making BBWAA members submitting blank ballots due to steroids ineligible--at least it’s consistent.

Will Clemens make the Hall--will McGwire get in?

I think so, unless more conclusive evidence surfaces regarding Clemens, he should be a shoo-in. After all, he has the benefit of being fiery, an intense competitor with a burning desire to win at all costs--a true warrior. Of course, Barry Bonds is the same way but folks say that made him the south end of a northbound horse.

I wonder why there’s such a discrepancy in perception?

I’m guessing the more we learn about this era, the better McGwire will look. Even if the BBWAA goes thumbs-down, I’m pretty sure some incarnation of the Veterans Committee will get him in.

Best Regards


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