(The following is adapted from Senator Joseph McCarthy's famous Red Scare speech in Wheeling, West Virginia from February 9, 1950. I wouldn't want any of you to think I was trying to pass someone else's work off as my own. Wink.)
Ladies and gentlemen, today as we celebrate the one hundredth birthday of one of the greatest men in American history, I would like to be able to talk about what a glorious day today is in the history of the world. As we celebrate the birth of this man who with his whole heart and soul hated corruption, I would like to be able to speak of ethics in our time—of dirty pool being outlawed—and of world-wide honesty. These would be truly appropriate things to be able to mention as we celebrate the birthday of Richard M. Nixon.
Ten years after winning the war on PEDs, men’s hearts should anticipate a long peace—and men’s minds should be free from the heavy weight that comes with war. But this is not such a period—for this is not a period of peace. This is a time of “the cold war.” This is a time when all the world is split into two vast, increasingly hostile camps.
Today we can almost physically hear the mutterings and rumblings of an invigorated god of war. You can see it, feel it, and hear it all the way from Twitter, from the pages of the Internet, right over into the very heart of the dying print industry itself.
But there is still a hope for peace if we finally decide that no longer can we safely blind our eyes and close our ears to those facts which are shaping up more and more clearly . . . and that is that we are now engaged in a show-down fight . . . not the usual war between bloggers and journalists for page views and followers, but a war between two diametrically opposed ideologies.
The great difference between our blogger world and the traditional journalistic one is not political, gentlemen, it is moral. For instance, the journalistic idea of suspecting every player with large muscles and who hit homeruns during the 1990s and 2000s is momentous. Likewise, the decision to seemingly at random apply the character clause in Hall of Fame voting is hardly less momentous.
The real, basic difference, however, lies in the concept of justice . . . while many of us believe that men should not and cannot be tarred with the brush of PED suspicions unless actual evidence is raised and evaluated, our opponents form posses, conduct show trials through whispers and rumor mongering, and punish their suspects by withholding their votes.
Today we are engaged in a final, all-out battle between the supporters of selective suspicion and basic human decency. The belief that all of us are innocent until proven guilty against its inverse. The modern champions of gossip as evidence have selected this as the time, and ladies and gentlemen, the chips are down—they are truly down.
Ladies and gentlemen, can there be anyone today who is so blind as to say that the war is not on over Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza? Can there by anyone who fails to realize that the BBWAA voters have said the time is now? . . . that this is the time for the show-down?
Unless we face this fact, we shall pay the price that must be paid by those who wait too long. We will not wait to allow due process to be corrupted further by voters, by infiltrators, who may themselves be compromised.
I have here in my hand a list of 22 . . . a list of names that were made known to the BBWAA as being suspected of being dirty, stinking plagiarists* and who nevertheless are still voting for the Hall of Fame, shaping the debate, contents, and policy of the Hall. These men have all written exceptionally similar arguments about Misters Bagwell, Piazza, and in a couple of cases, Craig Biggio. Too similar to have been crafted independently. I would not deign to accuse anyone of anything, but if they feel it’s fair to keep Bagwell and Piazza out of the Hall of Fame and to publicly link them to steroid use even without evidence for it, it’s far better for the BBWAA to follow their example and suspend the voting privileges of the men listed below, rather than allow them to potentially taint the outcome of future elections.
* A note: this is not a label I throw around lightly. If a voter makes a case that Bagwell doesn’t belong because his numbers don’t match up, I can respect him or her. I'll disagree vehemently, but I believe you can legitimately believe Bagwell’s not a Hall of Famer, or want more time to think about him, without being a plagiarist. You can even privately suspect Bagwell of using PEDs without letting it impact your vote. But what TCM cannot respect is a voter who decides to suspect Bagwell based on zero evidence, and who uses that suspicion as an excuse to wait on Bagwell. It’s antithetical to believing in justice and fairness, and ironically forces Bagwell to compete on an unleveled playing field in comparison to other HOF candidates. Plus, it’s downright un-American.
The BBWAA has lighted the spark which is resulting in a moral uprising and will end only when the whole sorry mess of twisted, warped thinkers are swept from the national scene so that we may have a new birth of honesty and decency in Hall of Fame Voting.
God bless you all, and God bless America.
First, and most importantly, thanks to @LeoKitty and her ballot tracker and Darren Viola of Baseball Think Factory for his Hall of Fame Ballot Collecting Gizmo. Both were instrumental in putting together this piece. Second, and also most importantly, congratulations to Terrance Moore of MLB.com, Jeff Jacobs of the Hartford Courant, and Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald, who have all reversed their positions on Bagwell and Piazza, deciding to err on the side of caution and in lieu of evidence, give these players the benefit of the doubt. Coincidentally, I think it's fair to say that they deserve the benefit of our doubts as well, and are hearby cleared of all suspicions. Good on you, gentlemen. But about the rest of you...
2013 (Suspected) Plagiarists
“Because there were allegations made about [Piazza] in Jeff Pearlman's book that nobody has attempted to refute...legally or otherwise.”
Said allegations, by the way, were made off the record by an unnamed player who had no direct knowledge of Piazza using. To his credit, Baker did vote for Jeff Bagwell.
“My vote for McGriff is not only a testament to his career that included 493 homers and 1,550 runs batted in, but for a clean player who deserves recognition in an election where players suspected of PED use compiled much better numbers.”
Then he doesn’t vote for either Piazza or Bagwell. The implication seems clear.
"I’m not ready to vote for Mike Piazza or Jeff Bagwell, two players who fall into the suspicion category even though they never failed a drug test and weren’t named in the Mitchell Report.”
Joe blocked me on Twitter after I asked him why it wasn’t fair to suspect him of various atrocities, like lending support to Bashar al-Assad. We'll have to settle for suspecting him of this.
“I spoke to several writers about their ballots and found that two had voted for Biggio and two others hadn’t because of a suspicion in baseball circles that he used steroids. When Bagwell was eligible initially a couple of years ago, I voted for him, then was told he was a steroids guy. Trusting the information, I haven’t voted for him since.
Maybe the two writers who told me they voted for Biggio will come to a similar conclusion before the next vote. Those writers said they also voted for Piazza, which is troubling because I don’t know if there’s anyone in baseball who doesn’t think Piazza used steroids.”
It’s really irresponsible for a blogger to make these kinds of accusations without evidence. This is Chass’s second year on the list. At least he didn’t bring up “bacne.” He’s one of two guys to bring up Biggio.
“The hardest choice of all is Mike Piazza. He has worthy numbers for any player, but especially for a catcher. The steroid evidence against him is flimsier than against the Bonds-Clemens-Sosa troika, but there is more here than in Bagwell’s case. The case includes quotes from unnamed sources attributed to Piazza, which were deemed “off the record,” that he admitted using steroids. But he never failed a test or showed up on a report. I just don’t feel right about it. If Piazza falls short, I will have 14 years to change my mind, and I reserve the right.”
Assuming nobody is elected this year, which looks like a real possibility, there will be at least 18 viable candidates on next year’s ballot. There will be some great candidates who fall off the ballot while guys like Chimelis waits for exculpatory evidence that, by definition, doesn’t exist.
“A first-time nod to the Crime Dog, who put up big numbers naturally. I had no problem leaving off Guys I Suspected. In fact, I relished it. One man’s stand v. cheaters.”
A first-time nod to Paul Daugherty. I had no problem including guys I suspected. In fact, I relished it. One man’s brave, brave stand against (suspected) plagiarists.
"Where things get tough is with guys like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Both men are on the ballot, Piazza for the first time. Both possess Hall numbers. But were they dirty? I didn't vote for either of them. Rumors about Bagwell and Piazza, suspicions, are enough to hesitate, at least for the moment."
Were they dirty? I don’t know, but I’m not voting for them! At least Fennelly admits it’s a case all based on rumor, instead of calling them “suspects” like they’re about to do a perp walk. And because of that, I’ll only say that my suspicions about Fennelly are only because I heard it from a guy.
“Chose Biggio, Schilling and Franco (yes, I know Franco is an outside-the-box choice) over Piazza and Bagwell (PED questions on both) and Lofton.”
Hersh, an “Olympic sports writer for the Chicago Tribune since 1987” according to his bio, makes his second appearance on this list after being “too suspicious about Jeff Bagwell to include him” last year. It’s unclear, without spending additional time around the game, which he hasn’t covered for the last quarter century, how Hersh will ever have those suspicions allayed.
“36. Mike Piazza: As with Sosa, I delayed my "yes" vote on the greatest hitting catcher of all-time to await more evidence. It has been reported he's writing a book, so perhaps he will shed some light.
37. Jeff Bagwell: Deserving on the numbers, but as with Sosa and Piazza, I delayed my "yes" vote until further proof/word.”
The only thing that gives me pause is that I think a plagiarist would do more to make sure he wasn’t passing along blatantly false information time after time after time. But maybe that’s just the genius ploy he uses to keep us from getting suspicious.
"It's for that reason, and out of respect for the "clean" Hall of Famers from the pre-steroids era, that I will not vote for any players on the Hall of Fame ballot who in my judgment were probable users.
Do I know for sure in each and every case? No. But just as a Hall of Fame voter must make subjective decisions on whether a player's statistical resume is Hall of Fame worthy, so too, now, the voters must make subjective decisions on whether or not a candidate is a chemically enhanced one."
Ingraham mentions neither Piazza nor Bagwell by name, but the implication seems clear, both that Ingraham is suspected of plagiarism and of being a coward.
"It’s safer to pass on a borderline candidate with PED questions to let more info come in than to just elect a guy [Piazza] with large questions pending.”
Kawakami’s got a pretty different definition for “borderline candidate” than I do, apparently, as I’d put the best offensive catcher in baseball history pretty high on the list of candidates.
“Piazza is supposed to have a book coming out this spring, in which his publisher says he’ll address the steroid speculation that has swirled around him. I’d like to wait and see what he says. Jeff Bagwell? I think his numbers are probably there for Cooperstown. But I also wonder about steroids with him. His body-type changed during his career. He also was a close friend of the late Ken Caminiti, a steroid poster child who admitted to juicing. Same with Craig Biggio, who definitely has Hall of Fame credentials by virtue of his 3,060 hits. But I look at his body-type transformation and so many of the whispers surrounding his name, that I just want to wait.”
I don’t get the Biggio speculation. This is literally the first I’ve heard of it, unless you want to consider the gauntlet he used to wear a PED.
“I'm voting ‘not now’ on the steroid-era players, just as for so many years they voted ‘not now’ on testing that could have helped clean up the game and identified the cheaters. By fighting so hard against testing, the players union allowed the steroid cheats to hide among them.”
Here’s the problem, you can’t vote “not now.” You have to vote yes or no. You don’t get to push guys back and start their clocks late. What’s more, you’re not voting to admit the player’s union. You’re voting to admit individual players, who may or may not have agreed with the union’s stance.
Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza: Did they do steroids? Loads of speculation, no proof. I want to vote for both, but I'm just not going to rush into it. Bagwell is only in his third year on the ballot, Piazza is in his first. As long as each gets at least five percent of the vote, he will remain on the ballot for 15 years. For me, each is in sort of a holding pattern. I want to give it a few more years, and see if any more of the Steroid Era vagaries clear.
Yeah, go ahead and take your time. It's not like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, and Jeff Kent are coming onto the ballot next year, making it more and more likely that players like Piazza and Bagwell will lose those numbers games and fall off the ballot. And again, there's absolutely nothing here to suggest what could clear up any of those pesky "steroid era vagaries." You're a journalist, Scott. You've had eight years to dig up dirt on Bagwell, and five on Piazza. If you haven't found any by now, the likelihood you'll eventually find some decreases exponentially into the future.
“For now, I’m going to hold off [on Mike Piazza]. There are enough steroid questions -- combined with a WAR ranked 179th all-time and a five-year fade at the end of his career – to make him less than a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my eyes.”
First, WAR is notoriously tough on catchers. Piazza is tied for 5th all time in WAR among catchers with Yogi Berra. The highest ranked catcher, Johnny Bench, is 45th all time in rWAR. Second, that “five year fade” was from ages 34-38, which is a normal decline phase for any hitter, but which is further pronounced in catchers because of the nature of the position. Third, for that five year stretch, he still had an OPS+ of 111.
“I'm not comfortable with the suspicions I have, so I'm voting for only Morris and hoping for a bolt of wisdom from Kenesaw Mountain Landis or Lee MacPhail.”
Got some news for you Marty, some of the rest of us aren’t real comfortable with the suspicions you have either. But by all means, go seek out the wisdom of noted racist Kenesaw Mountain Landis. I'm sure he'll just be relieved you aren't asking about any black players.
“Following the guidelines of the vote, I've left off the steroids guys. This is not a perfect ballot and in some cases perhaps even unfair, but by promoting the use of PEDs for a long period of time, MLB has put us in this position.”
The implication seems clear. Despite that, he includes Barry Bonds on his ballot, saying “it’s too bad he felt like he had to join the steroid-freak parade.” Somewhere, a robot just died from a logic bomb.
That’s really funny Adam, I’m planning to wait a year to take you off this list.
"In addition — even more unfair — you don’t get my vote if you look dirty. This is how I manage to not vote for the likes of Piazza and Bagwell, two guys with no admissions or evidence against them. They just don’t look right."
Wait, you admit it's unfair. What the hell are you doing? Oh, it's Dan Shaughnessy. This is Dan's second appearances on this list.
“I gave weight to integrity and character, as directed by the process. I need more time to address the new names and questions surrounding them.”
The five-year waiting period was instituted to give writers more time to think about players and not to have to rush to snap judgments. What have these guys been doing with that time. You knew the test was coming up, why did you start studying the night before?
“Until the Hall of Fame, or Major League Baseball, decides to include a sentence or two on the plaques of former players voted into the HOF that were associated with Performance Enhancing Drug during their careers, I will not vote for any of them. The Mitchell Report provides enough evidence to show that most of these first-time HOF candidates were cheaters. I have no proof that they cheated, just as I have no proof, other than the John Dowd report, that Pete Rose bet on baseball games when he managed the Reds. But I believe the report and have never voted for Rose, who has never appeared on a HOF ballot.”
Yes, Golfer's West reporter, Jim Street, you have no evidence Pete Rose used…except the Dowd Report, which is evidence, and also Pete Rose’s book in which he admits to betting on baseball games in which his team played and apologizes for it. Maybe you should write a book about how you’re not a plagiarist, which I could then ignore because it fits my argument better to do so. Meanwhile, the Mitchell Report doesn’t mention either Jeff Bagwell or Mike Piazza.
“Jeff Bagwell? Mike Piazza? Sorry, but neither passes the smell test.”
Nothing at all funny about a baseball writer complaining about how somebody else smells. Nope, nothing at all. Anyway, you can’t smell steroids Paul, any more than you can smell plagiarism.
That's it so far, but we remain ever-vigilent, as should you, dear reader, as a fan, as an American. Feel free to send in any additional writers you have reason to suspect of plagiarism.