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The BBWAA's Hypocrisy Knows No Bounds

by Nick Vitrano

Here we are again: another year - another inexplicable vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.  Congratulations to Greg Maddox, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas.  I am genuinely excited for their inductions.  I genuinely believe in their inductions.  Each is deserving in my eyes.  I just can’t understand how we got here…especially as it pertains to Thomas.  My bewilderment is rooted in the BBWAA’s 2013’s vote. 

Let’s rewind one calendar year.

I’m sure we all recall that the BBWAA failed to induct a single candidate of the 2012 MLB Hall of Fame class.  The collective statement to the game, its participants, and the fans was, “Not in our game.”  The BBWAA was going to have none of the PED era.  At the time, it infuriated me to what I believed were unrivaled heights.  Little did I know, it was possible for my cauldron of frustration to boil over.

Let’s start here: I am a baseball nut…I love the game, respect the game, and tirelessly root for the game.  I think the statistics of the game of baseball tell a more complete story of a player’s overall effectiveness than any other professional discourse.  But I am so exhausted with the sacred treatment of baseball’s stat line.

Major League Baseball statistics often prove as much a sign of the times as legitimate measurements. 

Baseball’s history book (andHOF) is filled with men who played when African Americans could not – men who played when Hispanics could not.  Strike shortened seasons, growth to a 162-game season, the dead ball era, World Wars – just a few snapshots in time.  Oh yeah, and then there’s this not-so-little fact: EVERY BALLPARK HAS DIFFERENT DIMENSIONS! 

I’m pretty sure the 315 foot porch inCounty Stadium’s left field helped to boost a few Brewers’ home run totals.  I’m sure the lack of foul ball room at Wrigley Field has kept a few hitters alive at the plate over the years.  Venues are labeled “hitter’s or pitcher’s parks” based on the decided statistical advantage afforded that respective side, but let’s not talk about that.  Imagine if, for this weekend’s divisional action in the NFL, Qwest Field was shortened to 81 yards while Sports Authority Field at Mile High was lengthened to 117.  Now compare the numbers of each participant and judge them against one another.

Then there’s this: BBWAA…please explain to me what you believe to be a performance enhancer.  Okay, ‘roids and HGH…obvious.  But what about the dudes who popped uppers back in the day?  The guys who took a cortisone injection just so they could get on the field that day?  What about the dude who burns one in the parking lot because it helps him relax at the plate?  How do we handle drugs that, at present, are not banned, but later we discover that they are indeed giving guys an edge and they are subsequently banned? 

Complicate the mere questions with the broad brush of association with which you continue to paint dudes like Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza – not linked to anything, but guilty because their fellow ballplayers have been pinched.  And then there’s the case of guy who might take something his rookie year, get nailed, learn a valuable lesson and proceed to put up 3,100 hits over the next 18 years…cleanly.  Is he not worthy?  Do his stats not count? 

The most laughable aspect of their collective decision was this, however: the BBWAA made clear that PED perception did nothing to boost the accomplishments of those perceived clean.  The guys who were close to their standards (whatever that means) were no more impressive in the BBWAA’s eyes, despite the fact that they have judged the playing field unlevel. 

You wanna take a stand against PEDs?  Okay, fine.  I disagree with your collective stance, but I’d at least respect it for consistency.  Of course, that lasted one year, as this go ‘round you voted in a guy who amassed all of his stats during the heart of the steroids era.  I think Thomas deserves to be in, but the hypocrisy of the BBWAA again knows no bounds.