Joe Morgan is bothered by the idea of known steroid users being inducted in the Hall of Fame. And he is not afraid to say it. More power to him. It’s Hall of Fame voting season.
Daily missives arrive from teams, fans, media members and marketing firms, presenting the case of a particular player for the Hall of Fame. It’s part of the ritual.
So Joe Morgan, a Hall of Famer himself, spoke out on behalf of not only himself but other players who have been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, basically saying if the veteran members of the BBWAA vote known steroid abusers into the Hall of Fame there are more than a few current Hall of Famers who won’t be showing up in Cooperstown for the induction ceremony.
Next thing you knew there was outrage being expressed at the idea Joe Morgan would try and influence voters.
Bottom line, it’s nothing new. It happens every year. At least it has in each of what is now my 33rd year of having a vote. Teams put together lengthy presentations to try and stir up support for their former players. Just a year ago, a writer was singled out for being the driving force in Tim Raines finally being inducted in the Hall of Fame.
And there is no more aggressive lobbying body than fans, like the guy from Philadelphia who was so distraught after a group of players/executives/media failed to vote Richie Allen into Cooperstown in his first appearance before a committee designed to consider veteran players who were by passed in their years of eligibility by the BBWAA membership that he stormed the press room at the winter meetings, threatening physical violence.
Morgan’s letter was polite, but to the point. Agree or disagree, it was Morgan’s right to speak his mind, just like anyone else. Will his presentation impact the voting? It could, particularly if a voter is uncertain of his stance on the issue.
Is that any sillier than the recently cast ballot where a voter declined to vote for Barry Bonds because of the steroid issue, but did vote for Roger Clemens, explaining that Clemens was dominate even before steroids became an issue. And Bonds wasn’t?
The shock that media members have expressed was humorous. For those who haven’t been paying attention, Morgan was merely putting into writing what a large number of players already inducted into the Hall of Fame have been saying all along.
Among the arguments of those appalled at Morgan making his statement was the comparison of the use of amphetamines in an earlier time, before the introduction of steroids. What is ignored in that argument is while steroids were a dirty secret there was never any effort to cover up amphetamines.
They were readily available in training rooms, where jars of amphetamines were on display. A one-time member of the Cincinnati Reds spoke about his first trip to the post-season, and coming into the clubhouse on the workout day to find an envelope with four pills inside on the stool in front of each locker.
A team meeting was held when one well-known player implored hi teammates to take two of the pills before the workout to see how each player would be impacted.
To the credit of Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association the two sides recognized concerns over the impact of performance-enhancing drugs and have adopted the strongest policy against them of any professional sports league.
For that, give credit to the players. For years the owners would initially include a ban on performance-enhancing drugs in labor proposals, only to have them quickly pushed to the side when the MLBPA would take a strong stand toward privacy of individuals.
The drug policy was finally adopted when the players themselves, spoke up and forced the issue, wanting to rid themselves of guilt by association because the perception was the MLBPA was tacitly approving the usage by not agreeing to a ban.
Funny. The players were applauded for taking that stand.
Now a Hall of Famer expresses the feeling of himself and many others on the issue and there is a surge of outrage.
Doesn’t make sense.
It is up to each voter to decide which boxes he/she wants to check on this year’s Hall of Fame ballot.
All Morgan did was make it known in a missive sent to voters what he and other members of the Hall of Fame feel.
He exercised his right to express an opinion.
It doesn’t have to be endorsed by voters.
But it should be respected.