As we build this new site, pretty much every post we write requires us to add new categories. It's a pretty sad state of events when, within the first week of our existence, one of those categories is "steroids." But, here we are.
I don't know what it's like in other forums and with other hobbies, but I've often described the Cubs blogging corner of the internet as being more than a little toxic. Part of that seems to come from this crazy mentality that, like the Highlander, there can be only one. Only one good blog. Only one correct viewpoint. Only one successful strategy toward building a ballclub. And if you happen to disagree with a blogger on any of those views, then you are an indescribable waste of human fluids.
Of course, that's not correct. Plenty of people can feel plenty of ways about any one thing and not be wrong. Take steroids and baseball, for instance. You'll learn plenty about our views on steroids in the coming months, but remember - it's not the end of the world if you think we're nuts. It's probably not even worth getting riled up about. However, one thing that tends to rile me up - at least a little - is an inconsistent viewpoint, which seems to be what Phil Rogers is expressing in his article about newly retired pitcher Andy Pettitte belonging in the Hall of Fame.
Most journalists have a serious problem with steroid use in the sport. Players who use them are tainted forever. I'm not going to tell them they're wrong for feeling that way, although taking that approach is probably going to lead us to an entire generation of stars who never garner enough votes to get into the Hall of Fame, due to the wild speculation and probably-appropriate cynicism of most voting journalists. Someday, something will have to give - either guys with shady careers will get elected, or probably nobody will.
In any event, Phil Rogers seems to be in support of Andy Pettitte, who "deserves to be a Hall of Famer." To be fair to Phil, he does at least acknowledge the HGH Gorilla in the room, as Andy has confessed to taking the drug once, when he was recovering from arm surgery in Houston. Sure. He only did it once. And Bill Clinton never inhaled. And those weren't my cigarettes, I was just holding them for a friend. Riiiiiight.
In an article from January 1st, Rogers revealed his vote in the most recent ballot. Absent on his list - Raffy Palmeiro, Mark McGwire and other guys who may or may not have juiced. Rogers wrote, "I'm not voting for players who have been linked directly to steroids." What's more, present on his ballot was Tim Rains, who snorted more blow in his career than the average Scores dancer. So, certain kinds of illegal drugs are okay? And HGH is fine, if a guy only did it once, back in college when he was confused about things and experimenting?
In any event, Rogers makes one valid point - figuring out how to vote is a struggle, and the voters need guidelines. He proves his point by demonstrating his own internal deliberations, and his inconsistent viewpoint. And he's right - voters need help.
So why not try this method: vote for a player based on how he performed when compared with the other stars of his era. You can't compare McGwire to Maris, if only because the ballparks were bigger back when Roger played, the height of the mound was screwed with, there were fewer teams, not to mention the fact that players hadn't discovered how to cheat with steroids yet. But you can compare McGwire to the players of his era, who most people seem to feel are basically guilty until proven innocent.
Well, if they're all guilty, then they were still on an even playing field. We already know that the best hitter and pitcher of the era - Bonds and Clemens - were juicing. Therefore, if everyone was on an even playing field and some athletes still managed to excel for a prolonged enough period of time to actually put up the numbers that warrant Hall consideration, then you should vote for them.
Otherwise, Cooperstown is going to be one boring place someday, what with the total lack of new inductees.