Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Barry Bonds = Ty Cobb

That's how Joe Posnaski (whose Sports on Earth site I will include in the blog roll one on these days) views Barry Bonds' candidacy for the Hall of Fame, comparing him to a player who was widely despised by nearly everyone in the game except for Walter Johnson (I love that Cobb said that watching Johnson pitch was the scariest thing he ever saw). Anyhow, here's part of it -- 

So what do you think? Would Cobb, who famously needed to win but who held himself to principles that few others really understood, have used steroids?
Answer: We have no bleeping idea.
See, that's the trap of this whole PED Hall of Fame discussion -- it's tempting to start thinking you know more than you know, understand more than you understand and can get inside the heart of someone else.
What we do know is that Ty Cobb was obviously a rough player, disliked by many, involved in too many controversial incidents to count here, including a well-publicized gambling accusation and numerous violent encounters. And what we do know is that on the first Hall of Fame ballot -- with the so-called character clause already in place -- Ty Cobb received more votes than anyone else, including Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Honus Wagner.
Why? He was widely viewed by the sportswriters as the best player of all time. In the end, character clause or not, the writers understood their mission was to honor the best who ever played the game. I think that's still our mission. I don't think it's right to pretend that the steroid and PED stuff never happened -- it absolutely did happen and should be part of the evaluation of a baseball player's career. But I don't see how steroid use in an era when there was no testing, no policing and (I believe) tacit encouragement to use PEDs can or should be, on its own, a Hall of Fame disqualifier.
Barry Bonds is the greatest player I ever saw. How much of it was unnatural? I don't know -- some of it. How much of it was a taint on the game? I don't know -- some of it. I don't take his career numbers at face value, especially the home run numbers. But I do believe he's one of the best to ever play the game.
My Hall of Fame vote: Yes.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home