Hundreds of thousands of Freddy Galvis' rabid fans are doubtlessly confused, disillusioned, and angry this morning, as their hero was suspended for 50 games for testing positive for the "PE"D Clostebol. Clostebol is a steroid that was used by East German athletes during the Cold War, so we should probably also suspend Galvis from the upcoming Summer Games in London, which The Common Man has been informed are actually happening, though TCM has no idea when.
Anyway, the point is that Freddy Galvis, beloved idol of the Philly Phaithful has fallen. He is tainted. All of his many records, titles, and awards are now suspect. And, of course, his chances of making the Hall of Fame have faded away to nothing.
The preceding paragraphs are, of course, utterly ridiculous. Freddy Galvis hit .226/.254/.363 in 200 plate appearances as a fill in for Chase Utley this year. He has a career minor league OBP of .292. And now he's on the DL with a broken back. The odds against Freddy Galvis ever amounting to anything useful is roughly the same as The Common Man and Peter Abraham having a hug-a-thon. Galvis is, as far as professional baseball players go, bad at baseball. And no amount of Clostebol, HGH, or horse steroids is going to change the fact that he's the kind of guy who will walk just 7 times in 200 PAs.
Meanwhile, Roger Clemens walks free. He has been acquitted of lying to Congress when he asserted that he had never used "PE"Ds. From 1984-1992 (9 seasons), Clemens won 152 games, had a 2.80 ERA (152 ERA+) and struck out 1873 batters in 2031 innings. Then he struggled from 1993-1995. Then from 1996-2007 (12 seasons) he won 172 games, had a 3.26 ERA (140 ERA+) and 2339 Ks in 2383 innings. The only year Roger had an ERA+ under 100 was his rookie year, when he threw 133 innings as a 21 year old (and even then it was 97). Meanwhile, he posted an ERA+ above 200 three separate times. He led his league in strikeouts 5 times. He won 20 games 6 times. He won the ERA crown 7 times. He became the only man to win 7 Cy Young Awards, and he also won an MVP. He is 9th all time in Wins (which suck, but go with TCM here), 3rd in strikeouts, and 10th in ERA+. Accoridng to bWAR, he was worth more than 30 wins more than any other pitcher since World War II.
There is, we discovered, after years of investigation and prosecution and 7 weeks of testimony, no credible evidence available that Roger Clemens used steroids or HGH according to a jury of 12 people. Neither is there any evidence that Jeff Bagwell used "PE"Ds. And yet, sanctimonious members of the BBWAA, who have appointed themselves the moral arbiters of what passes as legitimate baseball history and what is illegitimate, will keep both of them out of the Hall of Fame.
But PEDs don't turn good players into great players. They don't turn marginal players into good players. They don't turn Freddy Galvis into Jeff Bagwell, and they certainly don't turn Jason Grimsley into Roger Clemens. So even if Bagwell and Clemens had used, along with the hundreds of other MLBers who took steroids, HGH, and amphetamines in the 1990s and early 2000s, they still dominated their competition in ways that no other players had done before. They are quintessential Hall of Famers. And despite the fact that no one credible has ever accused either of doing anything against the rules, and despite the fact that no credible evidence has been presented against either of them, they're going to be treated like Freddy Galvis. And thus will the National Baseball Hall of Fame become a mockery of what it's supposed to represent.
Pitcher of the Night: Jake Peavy, 9 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 5 K, 2 R, 1 ER
Peavy pitched about as well as you can while still losing in his third complete game of the year. He was killed by an error and an infield single in 3rd. Aside from that, he was pretty dominant. In 2010 and 2011, we mocked the White Sox for giving up so much pitching for Peavy, but this was the guy they thought they were getting. He’s still under control next year, by the way, if the Sox are willing to shell out $22 mil.
Hitter of the Night: Logan Morrison, 3-4, HR, 2 2B, 5 RBI
Morrison has really struggled this year (again), hitting just .240/.323/.398. It’s fair to wonder whether he’s ever going to reach the potential he’s flashed, though he’s still only 24 years old. This was a big game in a losing effort, and it came with LoMo in the DH spot. Who knows? Maybe Morrison is one of those rare players who hits better when he’s not in the field.
Defensive Play of the Night: Starlin Castro
It's hard to tell if this is a really great play on a tough ball, or a decent play made great by Castro's inherent whatever it is that makes him what he is.
Game Changer of the Night: Asdrubal Cabrera
This is as good a time as any to mention how much The Common Man hates the term "walk-off." The first time he remembers hearing it was in the early 2000s, and it just never sounded natural. Why do we need to romanticize or jack up the term for something that's already as exciting as a game winning home run?
Trade Bait of the Night: Jonathan Broxton, 1 IP, BB, K, Sv #17
There's nothing more useless than a closer on a bad team. Ok, maybe Ryan Reynolds. But other than that, nothing. So Broxton should be on the market this July. He has a 1.63 ERA in 27 appearances with 21 Ks in 27.2 IP. He's a completely different pitcher than he was in his Dodger heyday, striking out far fewer batters, but showing a huge GB/FB split that he's never really had before. Like Brett Myers yesterday, he's probably not an elite reliever at this point, but he's valuable, and contenders with troubled bullpens should be calling Dayton Moore.
Injuries of Note:
Jeremy Hellickson, Shoulder Fatigue
You know, if there's one team that can weather a pitching injury, it's gotta be the Rays. They not only have Chris Archer, who they've called up to take Hellickson's spot in the rotation, but they also have Wade Davis in the bullpen, and Jeff Niemann scheduled to hopefully return in a month and a half. It's an embarrassment of riches that no one is watching in Tampa.
Scott Podsednik, Groin Strain
The Common Man supposes you could feel bad for the Sox that their outfield takes another hit. But seriously, how likely was Podsednik would keep this up (.387/.409/.484)? Cody Ross comes off the DL and will start in LF.
Ejections of Note:
Peralta was ejected for having a foreign substance in his glove. This isn't actually all that interesting (well, it's interesting and colorful, but not significant) except to note that no one is going to pillory Joel Peralta. No one's going to call him a disgrace. And if he were actually worthy of enshrinement, no one would campaign to keep him out. Even though what he did is fundamentally no different from what some BBWAA members suspect Clemens and Bagwell of doing.
Vin Scully-ism of the Night: Tie!
"Tonight's paid attendance is a little more than their average. 20,244. They're averaging 19,300. Tonight is Jewish Heritage Night. They made the announcement, 'We have more rabbis here tonight than we've had all year,' which was quite an announcment."
"[Josh] Reddick suffered a terrible tragedy. His father was electricuted while working for the power company. His dad lost half of his left arm and a couple of fingers on his right hand. Josh, at the time, was only a year old. And yet, his father devoted his life to raising Josh and teaching him how to play baseball. And so for every game that Josh Reddick plays, you can imagine what it feels like for his dad. And as Josh says, he credits his dad for how he plays the game."
Sorry, it's...it's getting dusty in here.
Phillies: Carlos Ruiz, 2-4, HR, 2B, 3 RBI
What's scarier, that Ruiz is hitting cleanup, or that he actually deserves to be (.358/.417/.585)?
Mets: Johan Santana, 6 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 K, 0 R
Yes, by all means, let's all overreact to the two starts in which Santana kind of struggled, but not really.
Braves: Dan Uggla, 0-4, 4 K
The Braves win the game, and Dan Uggla wins the Golden Sombrero.
Tigers: Quintin Berry, 2-5, R, RBI
27 year old Quintin Berry (.337/.409/.434), whose career minor league OPS is .697, is some kind of long-form practical joke being played on the people of Detroit. This is going to be hilarious.
Reds: Aroldis Chapman, 0.1 IP, 2 H, HR, 2 R
Since starting the season with 24 consecutive appearances without allowing an earned run, Chapman has a 10.13 ERA in his last 6, allowing runs in 4 of them.
Pirates: Andrew McCutchen, 3-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI
McCutchen pretty much just killed the Twins last night, but TCM can't stay mad at him when he helped him find pants in Williamsport. McCutchen's hitting .332/.390/.562 so far. It'll be a travesty if he has to wait until the week of the All Star Game to find out if he's on the team or not again.
Nationals: Mike Morse, 2-4, HR, 2 RBI
Morse hits his first homer of the year in his 64th plate appearance. If he can heat up, it'll really help the Nats create some distance in the NL East.
Rays: Fernando Rodney, 1 IP, 1 K, Sv #20
Rodney now has 20 saves in 21 chances and a 1.10 ERA. Let The Common Man say that again. Fernando Rodney already has 20 saves, and a 1.10 ERA. Fernando Rodney. What is the world coming to?
Blue Jays: Brett Lawrie, 2-5, HR, 2 RBI
Tom Hardicourt tweeted last night that Lawrie got into it with fans behind the visitor's dugout during the Jays' win over Milwaukee last night, dropping multiple f-bombs at the fans, which included kids. Whether it's true as reported or not, it's basically impossible at this point to enjoy Lawrie's game from an aesthetic perspective when he's pretty clearly a real asshole.
A's: Brandon McCarthy, 7 IP, 2 H, 1BB, 5 K
Our natural inclination on the Internet is to be critical of managers and their decisions. It's far more interesting than the alternatives. But let's just take a moment to congratulate Bob Melvin on getting a fresh off the DL Brandon McCarthy out of this game after 7 innings and 81 pitches, even though he was dealing. McCarthy's shoulder will thank you, Bob.
Mariners: Ichiro Suzuki, 4-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI
Ichiro flies past the 2500 hit milestone with room to spare in a rare offensive outburst for the Mariners. Despite this, he's hitting just .265 on the year with a .290 OBP, and it's looking like we won't have Ichiro to kick around anymore. Is he a Hall of Famer? By God, yes.
I agree with 90% of your position on PEDs. And I understand you're up against a fairly neolithic group of baseball establishement writers who have some pretty indefensible views on this. But aren't you minimizing the evidence against Clemens? And the PED issue in general? I do criminal defense work. The fact that 12 jurors thought he wasn't guilty of perjury hardly establishes that there is no credible evidence he lied. I've sat on juries and I've argued to them. What 12 people think after hearing the admissible evidence varies from a semblance of correct to completely absurt and nonsensical. Perjury is a very difficult crime to prosecute (making the decision to prosecute even dumber than it already was on the merits). That, along with Clemens' ability to muster a really aggressive and strategic defense, is what got him out of trouble in court. I think you know that. It's not that I think the writers are right. The moral indigation about PEDs is laughably uncritical and unfair. It's built on a mountain of assumptions and knee-jerk judgments, and convenient rhetorical devices about cheating. It's just your argument seems like a bit of posturing or rhetorical maneuvering, too. The truth is that Clemens probably did lie, but we'll never know for sure, and it shouldn't really matter that much in terms of electing him to a Hall of Fame where a healthy percentage of the inducted members were giant a-holes, racists, misogynists, or other miscreants (this may in fact have been an argument I saw on this site, I can't recall). They were good at baseball, and that's always been the criterion that matters most.
But completely dismissing the PED issue and saying it shouldn't matter AT ALL seems to me going too far in the other direction. It does matter. It might not make Freddy Galvez into Bill Mazerowski, but it might well have given Clemens and edge that Tom Seaver didn't have, or aided Barry Bonds as compared to Babe Ruth. Those are the ones that matter, as with anything, because they're the best at what they do. I have no idea how we deal with that, I think it's really up to MLB and they slept at the switch. I certainly don't think arbitrarily keeping certain guys out of the HOF is the answer. But I can't quite agree that it doesn't matter at all that guys were juicing or using HGH.
And I have a real problem with sanctioning past PED use as a cultural matter. Kids start playing competitive baseball at a very young age. Scouts start watching them at an obscenely young age. I hate a witch hunt as much as the next guy, and the Mitchell investigation was a disgrace. But that doesn't mean no one did anything wrong or that we should be OK with PEDs. Isn't there a middle ground here? Where we can have a discussion about what is wrong with PEDs without trashing Jeff Bagwell and every other player who played in the so-called steroid era? I am genuinely conflicted on this issue, because I follow sites like TPA and feel almost complete agreement with the approach you guys take to analyzing the game. But this issue feels too much like politics, where artificial battle lines have created a false dichotomy. Good piece, thanks as usual for provoking thoughts.
@jad185 There's a lot in there, jad, so forgive The Common Man if he doesn't address all of your points. While we agree that juries are unpredictable, and not always rational, the basis of our legal system rests on them, so TCM's inclined in this case to trust their opinion, given that he didn't have the same access or pay as much attention to the trial as they were supposed to. Also, if people want to continue to say things like "Clemens probably did use," they should probably have the decency to explain why based on the evidence available, instead of just tossing that accusation out like it's undeniable.
Moreover, if you're going to play the "who had an advantage over whom" card, you can ask whether Ruth had an advantage against slower pitchers, none of whom were African American. You can ask whether Tom Seaver benefited from facing pitchers, while Roger was mostly in the AL. If you want to go down that rabbit hole, instead of sticking to what we know and what happened on the field, then we're going to be here all day. To say nothing of the fact that there's no evidence that using "PE"Ds improves baseball performance.
Finally, The Common Man never said there's nothing wrong with taking PEDs. In fact, TCM endorses testing and punishment of players who are caught. But Clemens wasn't caught. Neither was Bagwell. Neither was Bonds, for that matter. We don't have nearly enough information about that era to know who was using, who wasn't, and how much it mattered. So criticize steroid and HGH use all you want. You will get no complaint from The Common Man. Hell, TCM might even join in. But let's stop talking about it as it pertains to players who played 5-10 years ago when we don't even have evidence that they used. And let's definitely stop pretending we know enough to decide who deserves to be a Hall of Famer and who doesn't based on suspicions and innuendo. Besides, letting these players into the Hall of Fame isn't necessarily a tacit endorsement of their PED use, just like the HOF isn't tacitly endorsing the racism of Ty Cobb or the alcoholism of Mickey Mantle. It's an opportunity to talk more about what was wrong about the "PE"D era and educate people about the dangers of using.
Thanks for the very thoughtful reply, and you addressed plenty. I did not expect you to spend even that much time on it, and appreciate the dialogue. Again, I agree with nearly all your basic points. Like I said in my comment, I'm about 90% (maybe more) with you on this. I think what I'm after is maybe more nuanced than my ability to comment. I'm not trying to spar with you over the HOF debate. It's pretty clear the majority of voters with the "steroid" approach have it dead wrong. And I think the HOF is pretty stupid in general given its history and the way people are voted in or kept out. I'm trying to find a way to talk about PEDs, both the "ethics/morals" end of things and the "impact on the game" part, without it turning into a witch hunt on the one hand or ignoring it altogether on the other. I think the argument that we can't ever judge the "steroid era" is wrong. It's not as eggregious as the point of view among a lot of HOF voters that paints everyone who has even a vague association with steroids as a cheater. But it still ignores some of the basic facts we DO know. We have to examine the thing closely and draw conclusions, but that doesn't mean we treat players who used the same as those who did not.
I'd agree we have to make distinctions for those who played in other eras, in the sense that you have to keep in mind certain changes in the game while still recognizing player accomplishments (Roger Maris' asterisk being one of the more prominent examples of that type of controversy). But the examples you gave aren't really equivalents. The players who chose to use PEDs chose it individually. And they did it to gain an unfair competitive advantage (whether it worked or not). They were not, like Seaver, merely benefitting from the existing structure of the game (though MLB certainly played a role in opening up the space into which drugs entered the game). They were not, like Ruth, playing against artificially weaker competition because of institutionalized racism that was, largely, beyond their individual control. They simply seized a competitive advantage that was clearly cheating by any standard. And I don't like the argument that PEDs have no demonstrated effect on the game. Just because something is not subject to conclusive proof does not eliminate it as a factor. We just lack sufficient information to prove it to our satisfaction. Given the way things evolve and the number of factors, it'd be nearly impossible to tell if they had an impact. Some probably helped, others not so much. HGH has demonstrated properties that aid the healing process. Did that help in Clemens' particular case? I agree it's impossible to prove. But that doesn't mean it's impossible to analyze or exercise judgment about. I do want to know whether he used or not. Not because I want someone to vote or not on his HOF candidacy, but because it says something about performances that were meaningful to me as a fan and to baseball in general. Clemens is one of the top RHP of all time. Saying he cheated or did not cheat is a big deal, whether it has any impact on his records or HOF status or any of that. Gaylord Perry cheated. I don't think we should extirpate his image from baseball for all time. I just think it's a fact that ought to be examined (as it is).
I believe jury verdicts are final and the best available indication of innocence or guilt, but they have little to do with truth finding in many cases, unfortunately. Juries don't see all the evidence. Indeed, they frequently are not allowed to view critical pieces of evidence because of the risk of prejudice or because some infirmity in the prosecution's method of obtaining that evidence. This is as it should be. The process would not function fairly otherwise. When someone's liberty is at stake, you have to use a high burden. But that burden also takes away from the jury's ability to ferret out the truth. They can judge guilt or innocence, but it's always only relative. It is guilt or innoncence as best it can be determined given the constraints of the adversarial legal process. Outside that process, we can actually do a much better job of figuring things out. A good investigative journalist--who is not subject to the reasonable doubt standard or the vagaries of admissibility--will do a better job 99% of the time getting at the "truth" than a jury. Hell, the judge and lawyers usually know a lot more about the "truth" than the jury at the end of a jury trial. That was really my point, not that we shouldn't trust juries, but we shouldn't extrapolate "truth" from a verdict any more than we should insinuate "guilt" from the Mitchell report (or any other vague association with PEDs).
I agree that people should stop throwing accusations around. They should also stop with the moral indignation that accompanies a lot of articles on PED use and the HOF (again, as though HOFers are some hallowed group of saints). It's important for people to see that for what it is, and you and other writers hav done a really good job of getting a counter-narrative out there. But I feel like the writers I trust most to analyze this stuff (you included) also maybe have a chip on their shoulder from fighting that battle so much that the analysis on "our" end (those who don't like broadsides and witch hunts) is also skewed. I want to see some analysis of the PED issue that really takes it on, doesn't throw around accusations but also doesn't shy away from calling PED use what it is. I genuinely don't understand the steroid era, and I feel like the debate is too stuck in polemics because people on either side don't want to concede a point. I think Clemens belongs in the HOF. Bagwell is a no-brainer for the HOF. McGuire, A-Rod, and others whose use of PEDs is more acknowledged also belong there. Bonds is one of my favorite players of all time. They should all get in, otherwise it's a stupid meaningless exercise. But how do you talk about Mark McGuire's career without talking about PEDs? Or Bonds'? If a jury has to convict someone before we can factor that into the analysis, the analysis will be forever incomplete. I want the complete analysis. I want your analysis (and that of your excellent TPA, BP, FanGraphs, etc. colleagues) absent the morons in the HOF brigade skewing things by forcing you all to stamp out the torches and disperse the mob before you offer it.
Thanks again, I really enjoy and appreciate it and all the work you guys do at TPA.
This kind of crap I understand drawing a pretty sharp retort from time to time. But it's almost so silly that it doesn't warrant a reply:http://www.star-telegram.com/2012/06/20/4047865/sorry-roger-but-youre-not-getting.html