A BLOG BY ANDREW BROWN
In recent years as the MLB offseason rides past the GM meetings and sets its sights on the winter meetings, it seems as though hallowed Cooperstown talks are inundated with what I like to call the MLB hall of fame name game. Ever since the steroid era took hold of baseball, heated conversations over who is and who is not able to join the hallowed halls with the rest of baseball’s greats has turned almost hostile in nature.
Ever since steroids have tarnished the great game of baseball there have been many individuals who have looked down upon those who have wielded such drugs but it seems none more so than Mr. Joe Morgan, MLB great and current Hall of Fame member. As of last week as everyone is probably well aware of, Mr. Morgan decided to write a very interesting email to all the hall of fame voters in effort to deter their votes away from any and all “illegal” steroid users.
Now I’d like to note that overall I agree with Joe, and all true sports fans do as well. Every sport wants the best of their best to be clean and be named the best by clean means. It is at this point however that I find myself at odds, not against the overall premise but against a few holes in the overall situation that I’d like to discuss.
The first thing that bothers me about the whole situation is the nature of the email in the first place. It was the most passive aggressive type of mail in all of sports history. To call it weak may be an understatement in actuality. It’s one of the strangest things a baseball fan can string together in a sentence when saying Joe Morgan is hiding behind the baseball Hall of Fame in order to get a point across. That’s right folks you heard me…Joe Morgan hiding behind the Hall of Fame name. For those who argue against that point let me ask you one question…
Do you really think that Joe Morgan, a polarizing figure in baseball history, a man who leads all current and past second basemen in Win Probability Added (WPA) and a player unmatched in his plate discipline (just 9% strikeout rate) would have to use a platform other than just himself to influence voters? For crying out loud the guy would be a perfect fit for any ball club in today’s game with a 98.9 career WAR (Wins Above Replacement). Joe Morgan could simply send a letter by carrier pigeon and still have the desired effect. There was no need for him to use any other platform other than himself. Honestly when I first saw the email I had two thoughts.
- Someone else was directing the email along with Morgan meaning Joe’s words were not all his own and his thought’s might not truly be his…in other words just a puppet voice to speak to the voters. Whomever else was in on the email should step forth and explain themselves.
- That Joe Morgan is/was blissfully unaware that there very well may be steroid users already in the Hall of Fame. Now this was my second and not so realistic thought. I know Joe Morgan is quite intelligent but any thought that the Hall of Fame remains “pure” and “untarnished” by steroid users is completely and utterly asinine. The likes of Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Roger Clemons, and others are just a few of the KNOWN steroid users during an era of ramped steroid use. Ultimately the player still has to perform at a high level without the use of steroids to succeed and I firmly believe that in the eyes of the voters, they’ve already made up their mind about whether they believe a known steroid user should grace the Hall of Fame or not.
So far all of this is without mentioning the fact that Joe Morgan (and possibly others)most likely have an ulterior motive at hand which would be to single out the likes of two big names of the current hall of fame ballot, Mark McGwire and Roger Clemons. Again, coming out hiding behind the Hall of Fame name and acting like protecting the “purity” of baseball as being the only motive is way off the path of truthfulness. I mean if McGwire and Clemons didn’t reach 50% of the votes last year, this conversation would not be taking place right now.
Boiling it down to the most basic elements, I truly believe that Joe Morgan and apparently others are missing what should be the main point of their own argument which should be to share the blame amongst ALL cheaters! Morgan went on a big path of stating the Hall of Fame doesn’t need cheaters involved in baseball immortality yet the only form of cheating he references is steroid use. Again I strengthen my own thought that there were others involved because I don’t believe that a smart man in Joe Morgan would deliberately dive into a topic so one sided. If you are going to use cheating to justify closing the Hall of Fame doors to certain players it should be spread to more than just steroid use such as bat corking, gambling, and other forms. Just because steroid use is the most ramped doesn’t mean other cheating means should be excluded. Spread the blame!!! In order for fairness and balance to be prominent in the world of baseball just as with praise, blame needs to be spread equally. It’s already bad enough that baseball is idiotically excluding the game’s all-time hits leader in Pete Rose, but for Joe Morgan to come out the way he has means one thing….that ever since last year Morgan and others have been so petrified at the likes steroid users entering the Hall that without thinking they’ve shot from the hip and have gone all out against a select few.
In conclusion, I agree with Morgan’s overall premise. No sport wants cheaters involved let alone in the Hall of Fame. If that was all to the story I would leave the conversation right there but the fact that others used Joe Morgan to get their feelings out as well as Mr. Morgan hiding behind the hall of fame name takes the conversation to a whole new level. Honestly I don’t think that the email will have any effect on the voters nor should it. It was a last ditch tactic used by people with good intentions but bad execution and scared of a little change. The fact is the hall is unfortunately tainted but with figures (like Joe Morgan) that will go down forever in baseball history. If Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are voted in amongst the Cooperstown greats then so be it and good for them.
Now I am going to do something that I believe all baseball enthusiasts should do which is to not forget Joe Morgan’s overall premise, but to forget that the misguided email ever took place. I refuse to remember such a dynamic and God-like figure in the world of baseball stooping so low to get such a noble point across. I would like to see a second attempt in the future but with a better argument and I would like to see it come directly from baseballs best.