Posts Tagged ‘Jeff Bagwell’

Steroid Sanctimony Bleeding on Bagwell

January 8, 2011

Jeff Bagwell May Have Muscled Way Out of Cooperstown.

I was disappointed that Jeff Bagwell got only 41.7% of the BBWA first ballot vote for the Hall of Fame. After all,  Jeff arrived for eligible voter consideration as the only first baseman in history with over 400 home runs and 200 stolen bases on his career resume. Maybe that’s not good enough for a first try admissions ticket, but he also did a few other things that should have drawn him objectively closer to the 75% that all candidates need for induction into baseball’s temple of highest honor. He also had an adjusted OPS rating of 130 or higher over 12 consecutive seasons. Bagwell and Lou Gehrig are the only first basemen in history to pull that off. Bagwell also stood alone as the only first baseman ever to produce a 30 homer, 30 stolen base season too – and he did that one twice. Thrown in the fact that he also put up six consecutive seasons of at least 30 homers, 100 RBIs and 100 runs scored and, for his career, that he drove in more than 1,500 runs and scored more than 1,500 runs.

Based on his honest, measurable numbers of meaningful baseball accomplishment, Jeff Bagwell deserved more votes than he got on his first HOF ballot. I have tried in the days that have passed to put this result aside as OK and not too ominous an omen for the future. Then I read an online article by Bernie Miklasz, a sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. I suggest you read it too:

Miklasz makes some great points about the hypocrisy  of our baseball writer culture. Now, without admission, conviction, or clear evidence, the muscular achievers of the so-called steroid era are being shut out of the HOF for moral reasons (the HOF’s integrity clause) by the same group of people who cheered a few of them (notably McGwire) as the resurrection of baseball back in the late 1990s. Miklasz also duly notes that the HOF apparently was able in past years to overlook offenses of racism, vis-a-vis segregation, and past other drug abuse issues, (amphetamines, for example), to clear the way for induction of players who in other ways “may have” violated the so-called integrity clause.

Now comes Jeff Bagwell, unaccused by the Mitchell Commission or the peer likes of any Jose Canseco types – and what does he get? Here’s what 58.3% of the eligible voters of the Baseball Writers of America gave him: (1) Suspicion. (2) Conviction on Suspicion: The man’s never staged his own trial to clear himself. Plus, he had muscles at a time when having muscles was bad. (3) Inaction to Take: What do we do? How about nothing! Until Bagwell, or somebody, clears his name, let’s just sit back and treat Bagwell and a few others as though they never did anything of note in their baseball careers. Let Jeff Bagwell serve as the poster boy for all the great players to come that shall also be stained by  factors of physical, associative, or cultural inference in the shadows of the steroid era. Treat them as though they never existed.

If that happens, I say, “let there be a pox upon the houses of all voters who handle Jeff Bagwell and others in this manner.”

Will Jeff Bagwell Reach The Hall of Fame in 2011?

December 1, 2010

A bad shoulder stopped Jeff Bagwell at 449 HR through 2005.

I thought of five different ways to ask the question that needs to be asked about Jeff Bagwell’s chances for the Baseball Hall of Fame. All are important – and all will remain in play – even if we don’t get to them sufficiently in one column. I would also very much like to know what you guys think as comments upon this article and subject.

Here’s my fairly quick dance through the questions:

(1) Does Jeff Bagwell belong in the Hall of Fame? Based upon his hitting and slugging accomplishments, relative to others, plus his prowess in the field at first base,  he would get my vote, if I had one.

(2) Will Jeff Bagwell make it into the Hall of Fame on his first 2011 ballot listing as an eligible candidate? It’s hard to say. There are thirty-three candidates on that list and a couple of those names fell only a handful of votes short of the 75% support-level needed for election in 2010. Long-time candidate Bert Blyleven and second year man Roberto Alomar are expected by many, including yours truly, to have the best two shots of becoming the Class of 2011.

If no one fans the fires of “guilt by association” in the direction of Jeff Bagwell as a slugging member of the steroids era, Bagwell could make it into the Hall too on his first try as a third 2011 inductee choice above all the other candidates. I really don’t see any of the other candidates making it next year.

(3) How big is the steroids cloud over the Hall of Fame elections of this decade? From what I see, it’s pretty big for now and the foreseeable near years to come, whether it’s talked about or not. It’s already kept the late and reluctant steroid-use confessor Mark McGwire out of the Hall through 2010 when all of his HR-hitting accomplishments alone should have put him into the Hall on the first ballot; and, it isn’t likely that demonstrated steroids-use liar and first ballot candidate Rafael Palmiero is going to fare any better.

Jeff Bagwell has consistently denied any steroids use during his career, or ever, but he still happened to have bulked up his body during an era in which it turns out that many of his contemporaries were also doing so with considerable chemical assistance. Only yesterday I was talking with another writer from Boston who independently brought up that quiet suspicion about Baggy.

As one who trusts the word and character of Jeff Bagwell, I don’t believe, or want to believe, that he ever used steroids for purposes of healing or performance enhancement. He says he didn’t and I am willing to go with that statement as the truth.

The problem is – not everyone is gong to give Jeff Bagwell the benefit of trust in this matter and here’s why that’s important. A Hall of Fame candidate doesn’t have to admit to steroids use, or be caught lying about it, to  get hurt by the voters. All he has to do is to be splashed by the fall-out from that era. The 1990’s were also a decade in which a number of players started pushing iron in the gym for the main sake of becoming stronger hitters. It isn’t fair that those guys who accomplished that aim honestly should be lumped into the same cloud with the steroids abusers, but that’s the way life often goes. It isn’t always fair.

Please comment on Jeff Bagwell’s candidacy for the Baseball Hall of Fame – or any other issue raised by this column, or in your own mind, about the impact of the steroids era on Jeff’s chances.

The main question is: Do you think Jeff Bagwell belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

For a list of all the candidates and a little more detail about the voting, check out this link: