Joe Morgan is a Hall of Fame ballplayer and a person I have great respect for as a player, a broadcaster, and a human being. Willie McCovey, the second best number 44 from Mobile, Alabama in baseball history, is also a man that I have the greatest respect for, not only for his accomplishments as a player but also his achievements as a man of integrity. Those two are friends, but they have publicly disagreed about a matter that concerns all of us baseball loving nimrods.
The annual Hall of Fame brouhaha is upon us as the barren trees and chilly air are mimicked by the sports pages barren of box scores or anything worth noting except for European football news. McCovey has said that it is a sin that Barry Bonds is not in the hall while Morgan has made it clear that no steroid users should ever darken the doorsteps of Cooperstown because they have been “cheaters”, whether or not that fact has ever been proven or admitted. It is, alas, still a mess.
Months ago I wasted not breath nor ink but mere cyberspace attempting to make the case that all of us self righteous and upstanding citizens should be lamenting the use of performance enhancing drugs (psst–can I get some?—) not because their use is cheating, but rather because their use is destructive to the body and soul of the user. My point was that if enhanced performance is the objection, then such things as good nutrition, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, and staying away from Twitter might also be considered “cheating”. For purposes of avoiding long, boring debates that get nowhere, we shall today omit the discussion of amphetamines, greenies, yellows, reds, etc. that were all the rage in the playing days of Morgan and McCovey.
Barry Bonds seems to generate the highest percentage of steroid hate feelings among those suspected of growing big heads. This is probably because he is an arrogant prick, although Roger Clemens also fits this description. Of course, it may also be because his hair free head is black. Indeed, there is no shortage of arrogant pricks in the Hall of Fame. Perhaps, as in the case of Pete Rose and Ty Cobb, there could be a special Criminal Element Wing in the Hall. It is generally suspected that the year 1998, when Sammy Sosa hit 66 home runs and Mark McGuire hit 70, Greg Vaughn 50, Vinny Castilla 46, Rafael Palmeiro 43, Jose Canseco 46, Ken Griffey Jr, 56, and Juan Gonzalez 45 was the time when Bonds decided to sort of join the club. This is just speculation, but a big crowd of people have been speculating. So let’s do this: let’s look at Bonds’ career through 1998.
At that point, Barry Bonds had accumulated 391 homers,445 stolen bases,and three Most Valuable Player awards. Those are reasonable Hall of Fame credentials. So am I saying that Bonds should be in the Hall? Yes, and for those who put a large weight on character issues, we could also add Dale Murphy or somebody. In the whole of his career, Bonds won two batting titles, batted .298, won 7 MVPs, 12 Silver Slugger awards, and 8 Gold Gloves, which may surprise some of you who had only witnessed his final few seasons. There were 762 home runs, 2,558 walks, and 1,996 runs batted in. For those of you still seeking punitive damages, we should then also consider banning some managers, owners, and a commissioner who all knew what was what.
One more cantankerous note: if Omar Vizquel doesn’t make the Hall of Fame, razing the building should be seriously considered. More on that in the future.