Baseball Courtroom Part II: The Steroid Debate, UPDATED WITH JURY DECISIONS

UPDATE: Jury decisions after the jump.

Both phonty and dyanks 10 have made their cases for whether or not steroid users should make the Hall of Fame. Phonty argued in favor of users making the HOF, while dyanks10 argued against them.

Jury decisions will be announced soon, and please vote on which side you think made the better argument, not which side you agree with.

Without further ado, the arguments, and decisions after the jump.

phonty (in favor of steroid users making the Hall of Fame):

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The question before us is "Should those who have been proven to use Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) be allowed entrance into the hall of fame?"

Examining this question asks each baseball fan, writer, analyst, player, manager, and executive to search within themselves, for this is not a question that can be solely, if at all, answered with numbers. It is about emotion, and how that emotion drives decisions, which is what I'll be exploring in my quest to advocate that baseball players who have been proven (not suspected) of using PEDs be allowed entrance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

 

If we examine those prominent players who have been outed (some by the leak of what was supposed to be an anonymous test, others by a Federal investigation into a drug lab, and yet others by Jose Canseco), we find that it is impossible to truly tell when and where those players began using PEDs.

 

Perhaps you can analyze a change in physique, which is inconclusive. Perhaps you can analyze a true change in statistics, which can be inconclusive if it's either sustained or not sustained over a period of time. You can also analyze a drop-off in statistics, which usually occurs, coincidentally, at the same time a player reaches a certain age (at which they would actually be reasonably expected to decline in performance).

 

The reason it becomes a question of emotion is because it's at the core of the hows, whys, and whens of PED use.

 

Players that have admitted using PEDs have used it citing peer pressure, pressure from their contract, and pressure to win.

 

Executives and managers (and coaching staffs) are guilty of the greed of money and willingly looking the other way (and in some cases encouraging, depending on what reports your read), the use of PEDs by members of their team.

 

Fans. Oh, the fans. Baseball fans and enthusiasts alike were awash in exultation during the era of the home run and power swings.

 

And among the fans, nary a journalist, privy to the clubhouse secrets, ever wrote a comment, article, editorial, or passing remark even noting what they saw, much less condemning or passing judgment on such behavior. Whether they feared a backlash or being blacklisted for saying what was going on, I do not know, but I would not be surprised if fear was a motivation).

 

In spite of all the emotion, even though there was a PED "rule" in place in Major League Baseball, it was never enforced. Not only was it not enforced, but MLB did not begin testing until 2002 (more than 20 years after a drug policy was first written by Fay Vincent and 11 years since Bud Selig had reiterated and modified it).

 

In light of all this, let's stipulate that what these players did was, in fact, cheating. Fine, they broke the rules of baseball. Fine, they broke a law (or laws) governing the use of controlled substances.

 

Even admitting and accepting those facts, there are players currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame who have cheated (both broke the rules of MLB and committed marital infidelity), consumed a variety of illegal drugs, and committed crimes. What makes men like Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Manny Ramirez, and Alex Rodriguez any different?

 

Was it that they broke "hallowed" records while, theoretically, on PEDs their entire careers? Was it that they cheated in an age where every flaw and mistake any public figure makes is breaking news (as opposed to back when journalists had respect for players and left a lot of non-baseball related information out of their articles)? Was it that they just happened to be caught and/or publicly outed?

 

Or is it simply the fact that we are all guilty of cheating the game of baseball. The fans, the writers, the managers, the executives, and the players. We all participated in the celebration of the Home Run and the circus and the willingness to be willfully ignorant of what we all suspected to be true. And knowing this, deep down in our souls, we project our guilt on to those we cheered and condemn them as we know we should be condemned; for applauding and cheering their efforts (because it brought excitement back to watching baseball, and perhaps brought our teams back into the limelight).

 

Not to mention that the Hall of Fame is a history museum. It chronicles the history of the game from inception to the present day (or at least the latest accomplishments) and to leave out any piece of history is to deny future generations access to the truth of what baseball was like in the 1990s and 2000s.

 

In conclusion, we'll never know every player who did and didn't use PEDs in that era. Whether they are put in a "PEDs" wing of the Hall or asterisks or other markers by their names, they are all a part of history, our history as fans of this game, and should be at the very least represented (even if it is not an honoring).

 

And that, my friends, is why players proved to have used PEDs should be allowed into the Hall of Fame.


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dyanks10 against steroid users making the Hall of Fame

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Should Proven Steroid Users be Allowed in the Hall of Fame?

My answer is a clear and resounding no. Let me preface this by saying it is difficult to argue such a blanket statement and as with all things baseball being no different, it's hard to not look at things on a case by case basis. That being said I still firmly believe that proven steroid users have no place in the shrine of baseball legend. My arguments can be broken down into three different categories. They are as follows:

Argument 1- Character and integrity are key factors that Hall of Fame voters must use to determine if a player is worthy.

· It doesn't matter that everyone was doing it and it doesn't matter that there was tons of peer pressure blah blah blah, any baseball player who knowingly did steroids would have trouble admitting that what they were doing was ok. Every proven roider who knowingly took steroids knew they were cheating and getting an unfair leg up on the competition. They didn't want others to gain that advantage over them, so they joined in on the party. Not that I can't sympathize with that mentality, but it doesn't make it a moral or legal act and when being judged on character and integrity, these players unquestionably fail.

Argument 2- Cheating is cheating and the issue must be addressed.

· As good as many of the steroid users are and were (Arod, Bonds, Clemens etc) and yes you could field one hell of an all-star team with those users, they cheated and must be penalized. When Reggie Bush broke the NCAA rules, they stripped him of his Heisman Trophy. That's one way to handle things; maybe we should strip our steroid users of their accolades. Take Bonds' 7 MVPs away, wipe clean his career home run record and strip him of his single season home run record. But Baseball has elected not to go that route, leave the past in the past move forward. Since many of these players are done playing, we can't suspend them or make them leave baseball. So what do we do to punish cheaters? The only we can....tarnish the legacy.

 

Argument 3- What about the other guys?

· I look at baseball and the way it's handled incidents of this nature in the past. Roger Maris' 61 home runs had an asterisk for over 20 year simply because baseball changed and he played 8 more games than Ruth. Pete Rose is still not in the Hall of Fame because he gambled on baseball years after playing and racking up the most hits of all time. If these players can be vilified for their actions, should we not treat these roiders the same way? Granted we have evolved and nobody thinks what happened to Maris was justified, but if we are determining that rule breaking such as Rose merits you on the outside looking in, this should fall into the same category.

· What about guys like Chipper Jones, Omar Vizquel, Mike Mussina, John smoltz, Curt Schilling, and many others who are border line Hall of Famers (you may disagree with my list), if we allow steroid users in the HOF many of these guys will simply miss out. It's not fair that the outcome for playing the game with honor and dignity is to not be remembered among the greats. Had Larry "Chipper" Jones done steroids could he not have reach 500 home runs and won another MVP? Would his achievements not have surpassed a Manny Ramirez? I'm not arguing who's a better player; I just don't know how much the drugs help an athlete. I know it won't turn me into a Hall of Famer that's for sure, but I wonder to what lengths it makes an impact. For example the most home runs hit in a season was 60 and then 61 for 71 years combined. Then in a matter of 4 years we had that record broken 6 times, 6 times!! Bonds had 73, McGwire had 70 and 65, and Sosa had 66, 64, and 63. These were very good home run hitters no doubt, but would any of them have broken 60 without help? We will never know. So I wonder what accomplishments were aided by steroids and what wasn't and rather than attempt to sift through all of the statistics, I'd rather support the Smoltz's of the world for racking up great stats fairly. He might be a worse pitcher than Clemens and honestly I'd have a hard time arguing that he was better. However Smoltz deserves the HOF in my opinion because he didn't succumb to the pressure (I hope) and he accomplished so much with dignity.

 

In Conclusion I just want to address one final point, the "Everyone was doing it" argument. This to me serves as a justification for acting unethically and doesn't serve as any excuse. Steroid users and other baseball writers have said that it's hard not juicing because they're all competitors and to win and stay competitive you have to do anything you can to improve your chances. I've even heard players and former players say they would do steroids if they knew they wouldn't get caught because they were such fierce competitors and they wanted to be the best. My response to that: Real competitors want to win the right way. Juicers want the stats and the fame; the clean players want to honor the game. The real competitors want to work harder to succeed and deserve to be viewed in a class amongst themselves, not with phonies.

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I was going to ask them to shorten their arguments, but I think it would take away from how convincing the arguments are. What do you think?

Who made the better argument?

UPDATE: here is the final verdict

WAW: I pick phonty. The argument against makes three points, but when I read them closely they really appear to all be variations of the same point - "They cheated, they should be punished".  While I understand the sentiment, the argument fails to address the fact that other HOF inductees have been known to cheat, or to be bad people.  It ignores the fact that we don't know exactly who was using for sure.  Also, arguing "what about the other guys" I felt was very weak.  If the other guys don't have HOF-worthy numbers, removing the competition from the PED-users won't change that.

The argument for made an interesting point about the shared responsibility of MLB and even fans in the PED situation.  The key points for me were that we will never know the complete list of who did and did not use PEDs, and the point of the HOF being essentially a history museum (vs. a reward).  I'm not sure I really agree with this argument, but that's not the point as you said.  I think this argument was made more strongly than the argument against, so it gets my vote.


Captain_Mick: I pick dyanks10, against letting players in. I found it much more straightforward, logical, and multifacted. The Second Argument, in favor of letting in PED users, hinged on the assertion that "it is about emotion," but I was never sold on that assertion. Why would emotion take precedence over rules? Morality? Fairness? Without addressing this criteria, the rest of the argument crumbles.

Jeterian 2: I picked phonty because I felt he made the better argument and supported his case with more facts. I liked how he stated that the fans did enjoy those home run years. I think he was implying Sosa and McGwire. Plus Bonds' great run to the HR king. I think him stating that the MLB didn't really enforce the rule also was a nice point. He's right they never did drug testing in baseball until later on. So what's the point of the rule? As for argument 1 he said that players he thought were borderline HOF'ers wouldn't get in due to better numbers by steroid users. Well yea they won't because they're better. (Also Chipper Jones isn't borderline...) Integrity has nothing to do with what goes on, on the field. 


Greatscott723: I went with dyanks10. Despite my beliefs about PED users belonging in the Hall, I have to say that dyanks had the better argument. There are some holes in his case (disregarding the fact that some of the players he listed may have used PEDs and that there are already cheaters in the Hall), but he speaks the truth when he says that the players KNEW they were cheating. Regardless of the holes, his case is still better than phonty's, which just seemed like a shakily structured ramble. It started off well, but the argument about emotions assumes a lot about the fans. Not all fans chose to be willfully ignorant- many (like kids themselves) actually just were ignorant, and accusing fans of projecting guilt onto players seems to be making unfounded judgments as well. I like the point about the Hall being a history museum but it just seems out of place in your argument about emotion. That's my take.

Brandon C: I went with dyanks10. I tried to completely ingore everything I think about the subject, and I really do think that worked. As for phonty's argument, the players that used the steroids were aware of the situations and had complete control of everything that was going on. I feel zero guilt whatsoever for cheering for steroid users when they were playing, and I think it's absurd to think that I should. I did not cheat the game of baseball, the players did, and while I think they should make the Hall of Fame, I think this idea lost me a bit. Also, in the argument it was left out that cheaters are already in the Hall of Fame, and that is probably the biggest point that could have been made for either side.

Congrats to dyanks10 for the win.

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