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Some of you have asked about my statement about steroid users in the Hall of Fame, a subject we covered last August. For those who missed it, the first of two posts is below. JH
‘ROIDS IN VALHALLA –
By John B Holway
The Hall of Fame inductions are coming up. There are five men who won’t be there: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco, and Rafael Palmeiro. All are disgraced because of steroids. Alex Rodriquez will probably follow them.
But there are seven other steroid offenders who are honored there and are probably immune from ever being kicked out.
And there are two more men, who are suspicious, and are slated to follow them on the lawn at Cooperstown this month.
Let’s discuss the Big Seven first.
Three are beloved managers – Joe Torre of the Yanks, Tony LaRussa of Oakland and St Louis, and Atlanta’s Bobby Cox. You couldn’t throw a wet towel in their locker rooms without hitting three or four men who were later seriously fingered for using ‘roids. The players are outlawed for life. But their bosses are on the walls of Cooperstown. Two more, Dusty Baker and Bruce Bochy, will probably be ushered on to the conveyor belt to Immortality when their turns come.
I once asked Yankee manager Buck Showalter if he knew of a statistic I had discovered about his pitcher, Jimmy Key. (It wasn’t related to steroids.) “It’s my job to know,” he snapped.
It was the job of Torre, LaRussa, and Cox to know about steroids right under their noses.
I heard LaRussa speak at a large auditorium when he was asked why he never suspected that McGwire and Canseco were popping when they played for him in Oakland. Tony looked us in the eyes and said he had just hired a new weight coach and figured that was the reason the boys had added tons of muscle and ton of homers!
Oh, come on, Tony.
That goes for the front office too. I can’t believe they shelled out millions of dollars without once wondering, “Hmm, I sure hope he isn’t on steroids.”
Imagine Yankee owner George Steinbrenner getting a medical report on a star he was about to pay millions for. “Tell me, Doc,” he asks anxiously, “did you find any sign of illegal drugs?”
“Well, yes, Mr Steinbrenner, we did find traces of steroids.”
“Good!” George replies. “I’ll sign him.”
The fact that the Cardinals hired McGwire as batting coach after his disgrace was almost like taking out an ad in the New York Times: “Thanks for taking one for the team, Mac. We owe you big time.”
The Bible says, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” A player’s fruits are his stats. I don’t know about your eyebrows, but some of them raise mine.
Historian Ken Matinale was the first man I’m aware of to point a finger at Nolan, and he stirred up a swarm of angry Texas hornets.
Ryan set the big league strikeout record with 383 at the age of 26, the peak of his biological powers. He averaged 10.6 K’s per nine innings that year.
Age Year IP K k/9 inn
40 1987 211 270 11.5*
41 1988 220 228 9.3
42 1989 239 301 11.3*
43 1990 204 232 10.2
44 1991 173 203 10.6*
*equal to or better than his record-breaking 383 season.
Nobody suspected skullduggery. First, the totals were relatively low because the innings pitched were low. Second, we hardly had heard of steroids. We wagged our fingers at those naughty East German women swimmers with their thick necks, broad shoulders, baritone voices, and bulging biceps. A red-white-and-blue American would never do that.
On the dais at Coopertown, Ryan paid tribute to his close friend and pitching coach at Texas – Tom House. Tom later admitted to using just about very illegal substance ever invented – he may have invented some of them himself.
— Age 40, plus —
Quit Tot K K IP K/IP Wins
Randy Johnson 45 4,875 1,404 1,004 1.4 73
Nolan Ryan 46 5,714 1,437 1,231 1.2 71
Let’s check Randy’s and Nolan’s strikeouts per innings pitched before and after 40 (figures are rounded):
Randy 1.1 1.1
Nolan 1.2 1.0
It’s true that Satchel Paige was still pitching for the Browns at the age of 48. And Smoky Joe Williams was hurling in the black majors at 50. But they weren’t smashing records or throwing no-hitters.
What of the other two pitchers who were honored next to Randy? Did Pedro Martinez (left) and John Smoltz earn their way into Cooperstown without any illegal help? From the evidence it appears that, yes, they did.
Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted in 2014, also seemingly earned their plaques fair and square. These four had their best seasons when nature apparently bestows them, in their ‘20s and early 30s.
Is it fair to admit men whose stats seem to have been illegally padded, alongside men who earned their way in without any help from a syringe?
The writers who did the voting without checking are equally guilty. These numbers seem to tell us that you can use steroids and get into Cooperstown if you’re a nice guy, but if you’re an es-oh-be like Clemens, forget it?
Next: Should these batters be in Valhalla?
SEE A GREAT MOVIE
Fire in winter
For four months, November 2013 to March 2014, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian people fought a desperate, daily war in the streets of Kiev against a militarized, heavily armed pro-Russian police force.
It must have been the largest popular protest battle ever waged. Tien An Men Square in Beijing in the 1980s lasted only a few weeks; the 1956 Hungarian Uprising was squashed in a week by Soviet tanks. Tahir Square in Cairo, ended after a few days.
But in Kiev’s Independence Square day after day acres of people – men and women, young boys and girls – built barricades and hurled bricks against phalanxes of police. They tell their stories on camera as it unfolds. In one day alone, about 80 bodies were counted, some with single bullet holes in their foreheads.
The hated president finally climbed into a helicopter before dawn and escaped to Russia.
The Russians later invaded eastern Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The final story has not been written. But this film brings the dry newspaper accounts to life.
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Outside the Stadium
We are treated every week to a phenomenon called political debates. Actually they’re not debates at all. They’re joint news conferences at best, political entertainment at worst.
The candidates strut, they shout, they insult each other.
We haven’t had a real political debate in over 150 years, or since Lincoln dueled Douglas back in 1858.
Today the candidates are at the mercy of two moderators, or even one, but their questions so far have not ferreted out many helpful indications of future presidential plans or how they intend to achieve them.
For example, exactly how would Senator Sanders take billions of dollars from the super-rich and give them to you and me? No one has asked. Tuesday night the moderator threw foreign policy questions at Mrs. Clinton, who is strong there, but not to Senator Sanders, who is weak.
The so-called “town hall” debates are the most uninformative: What do you think about the right to die? How do you control your ego? Should American students have as many hours in class as the Chinese? How would you deal with special interests?
(Answer by both candidates: I would “take them on,” whatever that means.)
In 1858 debates were really debates.
Lincoln asked a question, and Douglas answered. Then he asked a question, and Lincoln answered.
That really sharpens the issues and elicits answers that can’t be ducked. Each can pound on a point until he or she gets a satisfactory reply. Douglas lost the presidential election later by blurting out a damaging statement on his policy on slavery.