Bert Blyleven: let the PED users in the Hall of Fame

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I wrote yesterday about how I reconcile PED use and the Hall of Fame.  I’ve written a lot about Bert Blyleven and the Hall of Fame. Say, how can those things go together?

Via the Jonah Keri Podcast, of course.  Jonah has been talking to some serious heavyweights this week, and the other day Blyleven gave Jonah a half hour of his time.  It’s all worth listening to, but I think the most interesting part is when they talk about steroid users and the Hall. Blyleven’s take? Let McGwire, Bonds and Clemens in. His rationale (more or less) is that a lot of guys were taking and they all didn’t become Hall of Famers, so why degrade the accomplishments of the ones who did? This is a rough approximation of my own stance: sure, guys used PEDs, but it’s not like that prevents us from distinguishing them from other players and recognizing their greatness. At least if we don’t take a blanket “no PED users in the Hall” approach.  Which I think is extremely problematic.

Not that Blyleven and I agree on everything.  He would change his mind on Bonds or Clemens if they were to be convicted in their respective criminal prosecutions. Hard to say if he thinks that’s because that would officially make them criminals and thus disqualify them on moral grounds or, alternatively, if it would merely remove some extant doubt from his mind about what they did while they played.  Bert is also part of the “release all the names” club which, as I have argued is simply wrong.

But however he comes down, it’s a good interview and a good window on how hard it is to figure out what to do with the Hall of Fame in the wake of the steroid era.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.