Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 11, 2011
BASEBALL: Manny Been Manny

Still short on time here and still trying to get the numbers posted for my annual division previews (yeah, I know), but first a couple points on my late gut reaction to the whole Manny news:

1) This was a fittingly bizarre end to a bizarre career.

2) As I've said repeatedly before, I'm neither with the moral-high-horse sportswriters nor the steroids-don't-matter stathead crowd. Manny's legacy is and should be tarnished, but I'd still vote for him for Cooperstown. The Hall is really going to be a bad joke if this many players get locked out despite obviously qualifying on the basis of their on-field accomplishments, and that ultimately detracts from the honor given to those who are inducted.

3) Manny served a 50-game suspension for PEDs, and effectively had his career ended by threat of a 100-game suspension. That's a stuffer When we're considering Hall of Famers, isn't it sort of backwards if he gets lumped in the same bucket with guys like McGwire or Palmeiro who never suffered any penalty for PEDs? (Ditto Bonds and Clemens, except for the part where they got indicted, a ridiculous spectacle which is if anything symptomatic of our national reliance on the legal system as a substitute for moral judgments).

4) Manny was a great hitter, great story and great fun to watch. Nothing can take away the joy, the amusement, the championships, and even the water-cooler controversies he brought to the game. Let's not let anything else obscure that.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 7:25 PM | Baseball 2011 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Palmeiro will never make it. Sans the needle he would have been a career singles hitter. Writers will handicap the vote. Bonds and Clemens still make the grade, McGuire a closer call as he was a lifetime juicer. Manny falls in that basket, the multiple suspensions may kill his bid.

Posted by: Dave at April 11, 2011 8:28 PM

"Hey Ricky Williams? It's Manny - I need some advice about a drug test . . . "

Posted by: MVH at April 11, 2011 8:48 PM

Some of them have to go in, if for no other reason than MLB knew what they were doing and sat passively by. I don't know how the 'suspect' players who get in will be distinguished from those who don't, but I think the voters will look at Manny as being at an easy extreme to block - b/c he got caught NOW for the 2ND TIME. He presents a bright line for the voters. Others will be more difficult to predict/judge as their time of play (90's vs 00's), their performance before using, their performance after (they stopped) using, their reputation, etc, get weighed. But some will get in, or we'll just be witnesing a total whitewash by MLB of their own complicity in this - and they shouldn't be able to get away with that.

I wonder if it could lead to a new factor to consider - would you want this guy being able to vote for future HOF-ers? Something of a character test that can open a whole other can of worms.

Posted by: tanstaaf lunch at April 11, 2011 11:01 PM

It's still an open question whether steroids can significantly increase a hitter's performance (they are likely much more helpful to pitchers). The home-run explosion in the 90's and 00's are just as easily explained by expansion and construction of smaller, hitter-friendly stadiums.

It's not a coincidence that Maris set his record in an expansion year, or that George Foster hit 52 in another expansion year (1977).

Posted by: Paul H. at April 12, 2011 11:27 AM

Crank, I think you miss the point when talking about McGwire, Sosa and the rest. At that time they were not breaking the rules of the game. That is what should be treated differently. Bonds and Clemens both were caught after the rule change and should be treated like the cheaters they are. Kind of like driving through a 45 mph speed limit. If they lower the limit and you are still driving 45, you are guilty.

Posted by: maddirishman at April 12, 2011 1:59 PM

An unfortunately common misunderstanding is that expressed by maddirishman. PEDs have long been prohibited from MLB. The MLBPA, however, successfully defeated attempts to have testing for PEDs. Just because testing was outlawed did not make use of PEDs eithin the rules.

Posted by: Magrooder at April 12, 2011 3:22 PM

Well-stated Crank. Agree with just about everything you said.

Posted by: Mike at April 12, 2011 11:37 PM

He was sort of a messy character in many ways (obviously). That aside, when he was locked in he was unreal to watch at the plate. I remember the 2007 ALDS and ALCS where he savaged Angel and Cleveland pitching to the tune of .400/.578/.833 (that's an OPS of 1.411) with 4 HRs, 14 RBIs and a ludicrous 14 BBs in 10 games. You could just see the discomfort he caused to those pitching staffs. The 53 games he played when traded to the Dodgers was also one of the great stretches of hitting any hitter, especially a righty, has ever experienced.

Posted by: jim at April 13, 2011 8:48 AM

For those who took steroids, the question I ask is whether they would have made the Hall anyway without the steroids. In the case of Clemens, Bonds, and Manny, the answer is yes. But I'd leave the high-HR, low-BA guys like McGwire out, even if seems strange to leave a 500-plus HR hitter not in the HOF.

It's an arbitrary test, and even in applying it reasonable minds will differ, but steroids should at least be a factor in HOF admission.

Posted by: MVH at April 13, 2011 9:51 AM

I am of the school that stats alone should not get you into the HOF. I have no problem with guys (like Rose, Bonds, etc.) being rejected based on their off the field activities and drug taking. I know the criteria is not black and white, but so be it.

If you have ever seen a 10 year old walk around and look at the plaques in the HOF gallery, you too would want him to see the best MLB had to offer both as players and as human beings.

Posted by: Lee at April 13, 2011 12:52 PM

I'm sure someone would point this out but the MLB HOF is loaded with bad guys, bad fathers, bad husbands, tax cheats, out and out racists and guys who did little for the integrity of the game other than being able to swing it, pick it or chuck it. Those kids are already looking at some pretty shady guys. I think it is really hard to discern character as a criteria. Where do you draw the line? I can't think of any wife-beaters off the top of my head but let's say Jason Kidd was a shortstop (not a stretch really) rather than a PG. Should he not get into the HOF? Got the numbers but not a good husband (to say the least).

Is taking PEDs a character flaw? I'm not certain I would think of it that way even though it does go to the heart of one's personal integrity. I think it's more complex than that. Just on the Manny aspect of things with PEDs, I believe he was also on the 2003 list of, what, 103 players who tested positive. Could be wrong there but I think I have it.

Almost any Giants fan will remember for the utter havoc Bonds wrought upon opposing teams and remember it fondly. I remember Manny for that incredible, effortless swing and 2 World Series wins. I'll take that everyday.

Posted by: jim at April 13, 2011 2:32 PM

My focus is on-the-field performance. I would let Rose in. His gambling and lying have nothing to do with whether he was one of the game's best. He was banned from further baseball activities, and that's enough for me.

The PED's, on the other hand, do affect on-field performance and that's why I find them relevant, though not dispositive.

Posted by: MVH at April 13, 2011 2:46 PM
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