"Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel"

My new book, "Offsetting Penalties - A PK Frazier Novel" is the follow-up to "Illegal Procedure" and "Roughing the Passer" and is now available in print and in e-formats at amazon.com, smashwords.com and iBooks. Follow me on twitter @kevinkrest.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

BASEBALL HALL OF FAME HYPE, HIPOCRISY AND HELPLESSNESS

Major League Baseball's leading hit producer and home run hitter are not in the Hall of Fame. One for gambling on baseball following their playing career, the other for suspected but yet unproven PED use. Ken Griffey, Jr. fell three votes shy of unanimous selection, despite playing much of his storied career in the steroid era. Mike Piazza, another PED era player, was also elected to the Hall. How does this make any sense? It's easy to speculate that some players clearly used steroids or other performance enhancing drugs during their careers. What isn't clear is how many participated in the practice, because Major League Baseball chose not to include drug testing in its collective bargaining agreement with the players following the 1994 strike shortened season. While commissioner Bud Selig celebrated the home run battle between Mark McGwuire and Sammy Sosa, other more talented players watched as two supposedly juiced athletes eclipsed their numbers with no negative ramifications. Forced to keep pace, they took PED's that were not against the rules of their sport, only to be villified after the fact. It's like catching a driver on radar doing 70 miles per hour when the speed limit is 75, only to come back later and give them a ticket after lowering it to 60.

Pete Rose clearly deserves to be in the Hall of Fame for his playing career. His ban from baseball following his conviction and later admission to gambling on baseball as a manager for the Cincinnati Reds is justified and I have no problem with that. But to leave him out of the Hall is just ridiculous. Gambling didn't make him the all-time hits leader. He did that through sheer determination and passion for the game. Barry Bonds, had he left the game prior to even being suspected of PED use would have been a sure first-ballot Hall of Famer. He demonstrated a unique combination of power, speed and defensive prowess. He set standards for hitting for average, stolen bases, home run production and play in the field that will not likely be bettered by today's or tomorrow's players. Griffey is a great guy, always open to interviewers, a player that grew up with the game, following in the footsteps of his father. I'm convinced that the main reason Griffey is in and Bonds is out is because Bonds was a cantankerous and caustic player, difficult to interview and even more difficult to like. Is that any rationale to deny a player induction into the Hall of Fame? Ty Cobb was evil, Babe Ruth and Mickey Mantle drunks, Sandy Koufax quit, Gaylord Perry cheated in a number of ways, yet all are in the Hall.

How is it that we can be so sure that John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Braig Biggio, Griffey, Piazza and the other Hall inductees from the steroid era weren't juiced? There was no testing. No proof that any player did or didn't use. Just because there was no outward appearance of PED use doesn't mean there wasn't. I'm not insinuating that any of these players were guilty of steroid use, rather my point is that it's impossible for the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to make  arbitrary decisions on a player's worthiness based on speculation and assumption. Who are they to pass judgement? I feel that they should vote for the players that were the best in their era and let history decide what legacy they leave behind. Changes in the rules, length of the season, height of the mound, stadium sizes, interpretation of the strike zone, the introduction of the designated hitter, the decreased role of the starting pitcher and yes, the use of performance enhancing drugs continually differentiate eras and make it impossible to compare statistics of players who played in other times and under different circumstances.

I congratulate Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza on their impending induction into a great and exclusive group of players. I only wish there were a few more very deserving inductees joining them this summer.

Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel", available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in January.