Next Up For Bonds/Clemens Apologists: Andy Pettitte For HOF In 2019!
I guess the question is not whether GEATs (Greatest Embarrassments of All Time) Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be voted into baseball Hall of Fame in 2019. If the sluggish tick upward of support is any indicator, they won’t. Rather, the question is which new lame excuse will emerge for allowing players who cheated the game into a hall that is supposed to celebrate all that is good about the game?
There has already been the Negro League argument, the Gaylord Perry argument, and the Ty Cobb argument. For what it’s worth, Perry shouldn’t be there either.
Will the it be a new statistic like FSMESC -freakish stats minus estimated steroid contributions? Or HLWTCTJC -How Large Were They Compared To Jose Canseco?
In 2017, a couple of people attacked HOF second baseman Joe Morgan for his stance that cheaters should be kept out. The argument against Morgan: amphetamines were part of the game 50 years ago.
So, this year, I suppose, Roy Halladay’s prescription drug use and death in an airplane crash will be compared to Bonds and Clemens cartoonesque numbers while pumping themselves full of whatever they could find to cheat their opponents.
But, I’m betting the most noise will be from the apologists as they try to boost Andy Pettitte’s candidacy.
He is one steroid user who has gotten a pass. That’s in part because he came clean about it. Didn’t sue anyone. Didn’t let his best friend go to prison instead of testifying. Instead, he admitted to it, had a plausible excuse (said he used it to overcome injury), and expressed regret and remorse.
So, now he’s on this line between cheaters and honest ballplayers. And his case brings up questions: Did he cheat for long? How long? Was it for that one injury? How many years do you play with Roger Clemens and not sucked into using? You, know, stuff like that that nobody but him can answer.
Soooooo, if we can get him in, rationalizers theorize, despite years of mostly solid, somewhat over-rated and occasionally pedestrian performances and somewhat worse numbers in the World Series, then mayyyyyyybe the floodgates open and Bonds and Clemens can skip through, arm-in-arm with pompous, entitled, churlish grimaces and intimidating glares that made them so lovable by no one when they played.
Pettitte will get extra love even though his reputation is based in no small amount to the number of times the New York Yankees made it to the series during his tenure, despite a World Series record of 5-4 with a 4.06 ERA.
Sure, he was good, really good even (256 wins ain’t bad). But, great? I don’t know. He had spots of brilliance and a 21-win sophomore season. But, he was an All-Star just three times. And I remember a lot of big games that ended early with Pettitte walking off the mound before he was supposed to and with a lot of crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
And, if we’re talking the greatest of a generation, I don’t care what stats you use, three-time All-Star doesn’t get you there.
Mike Mussina on the other hand should be a lock even with only five more wins than Pettitte. He was a top-six Cy Young candidate nine times in 18 years and his postseason numbers are nearly half-a-run better compared to Pettitte’s. Buuuuut, someone will find the comparability index at baseball-reference.com and say, “See, they’re the same guy!”
Mussina was a number one from day one. I don’t think you can make the case Pettitte was more than a very good second starter. Also, Mussina didn’t throw any baseball bats at Mike Piazza.
Honestly, it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Pettitte gets in, regardless of whether apologists would be holding parties for what impact this could have. He didn’t run from his positive test and he otherwise comported himself like a gentleman. He also didn’t throw any bats at Piazza. But overall, when I think greatest of his generation, I don’t think his numbers make the cut and managers who chose pitchers for the All-Star game didn’t think he made the cut either.
Sadly, the argument won’t be coming entirely based on their comparisons. It will be based on a notion of: How can we get one guy in to get two other guys in who cheated, but, golly, entertained the hell out of us so now we no longer want to feel dirty for cheering for them.
The argument will overshadow the accomplishments of men who by all accounts who played the game the right way, made the most of their talent and hard work, and who would bring honor -not dishonor- to the Hall.