No, being steroid-free is not keeping Fred McGriff out of the Hall of Fame

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Gary Shelton of the St. Petersburg Times has a column today in which he argues that Fred McGriff is being penalized in the Hall of Fame voting because he didn’t take steroids and thus didn’t have big gonzo cartoon power numbers. 

At the outset, let me note that I think Fred McGriff should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. While he didn’t hit 40 homers or go crazy like so many other players, it’s important to note that his career straddled two eras: the pre-1993 era in which offense was relatively scarce and the post-1993 era where lots of things — including but certainly not limited to steroids — caused offense to explode.  His numbers in the pre-1993 era were beastlike for the time.

And it’s the “for the time” part of that which is really keeping McGriff out, not his failure to take steroids (if in fact he didn’t, which we can’t really know).  If anything, writers in this day and age are more likely to give him a Hall of Fame bump than to dock him for his perceived cleanliness.

What’s really keeping him out is that those same writers are largely ignorant of the differences between the pre-1993 and post-1993 offensive context. They say “well, he never hit 40” even though 40 in 1989 is the equivalent of something near 50 in 1999 and discount him unfairly. The “he’s getting hurt because he was clean” line is a cover for the writers’ ignorance.  He wasn’t prevented from achieving Hall of Fame numbers by evil PED users. He had Hall of Fame numbers, but you guys just aren’t smart enough to recognize it yet.

McGriff is no slam dunk, and sure, there’s a chance I’m giving him too much benefit of the doubt because he was an important part of my favorite team, but I think he’s deserving and I think he’ll eventually make it.  The steroid stuff is just smoke.

Astros advance to the World Series with 4-0 finale against Yankees

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The Astros punched their ticket to the World Series on Saturday, shutting out the Yankees 4-0 to take their first Game 7 victory at home. Charlie Morton was nearly untouchable on the mound, holding the Yankees to two hits, a walk and five strikeouts en route to his first career postseason win.

Morton and Sabathia carried their duel through three solid innings. Morton struck out three batters and allowed just one baserunner. Sabathia worked in and out of jams in the second and third innings, supplying and stranding two runners in scoring position.

Evan Gattis was the first to strike. In the fourth inning, he punched a 2-2 slider from Sabathia into the left field wall, where it registered a projected 405 feet and broke a homer-less streak of 115 at-bats by designated hitters in the 2017 postseason. The home run signaled the beginning of the end for the Yankees’ starter. He induced a groundout from Marwin Gonzalez, then walked Brian McCann on six pitches and allowed Josh Reddick his first base hit of the playoffs. That was enough for Joe Girardi, who pulled Sabathia for righty Tommy Kahnle and an inning-ending double play to close out the fourth.

Even with Sabathia gone, there was still some hope that the middle of the order could bail the Yankees out. Greg Bird led off the fifth with a first pitch double and Aaron Hicks took a four-pitch walk. A wild pitch from Morton allowed Bird to reach third base, but Alex Bregman and Brian McCann weren’t about to let the Yankees spoil their starter’s shutout. Todd Frazier bounced a ball toward third base, where Bregman grabbed and fired it to home plate, catching Bird just as McCann put his glove down.

The bottom of the inning wasn’t any easier for Sabathia’s successors. Jose Altuve went oppo-taco on a 1-1 changeup from Kahnle, postmarking it 364 feet into the right field stands. Kahnle labored through the next four at-bats, handing out a pair of singles to Carlos Correa and Yuli Gurriel before sending Gattis down swinging. The next at-bat was even more troublesome. McCann roped a two-out, two-RBI double to the warning track in right field, clearing the bases and boosting the Astros’ to a cushy 4-0 lead.

The excitement fizzled a little over the next few innings. Brett Gardner muscled a leadoff single off of Lance McCullers, but was later caught at second on a force play to end the sixth. McCullers didn’t let go of the ball again. He was lights-out through the end of the game, scattering a walk and six strikeouts over four innings and clinching the pennant with a 1-2-3 performance in the ninth.

Whatever confidence the Astros had coming off of their three-game sweep in the Division Series was tested and tested again in their pennant run. They battled through three tough losses in Games 3 through 5, staved off elimination with a gem from Justin Verlander in Game 6, and finally emerged victorious tonight. Three days from now, when they enter Dodger Stadium for Game 1 of the World Series, they’ll have the chance to do it all again.