Murray Chass goes after Mike Piazza again

26 Comments

Murray Chass, who once went off about how Mike Piazza was a steroids user because he had acne on his back, goes after Piazza again:

I have been accused of being the only writer who has publicly suggested that he used steroids, but talk to any reporter who covered the Mets and they will say of course, he did. Recently I came across this passage from a piece about Piazza:

“Two springs ago, Mike Piazza asked, ‘How can someone write that I was a steroid user because of acne? When did I fail any test?’”

That’s his defense, and he’s sticking to it. The suspicion is Piazza didn’t fail any tests because he stopped using steroids when Major League Baseball began testing.

Piazza is writing a book with Lonnie Wheeler for an advance of $800,000, and for that kind of money a publisher is going to expect something other than balls and strikes. Specifically the truth. The original author of the book, Michael Bamberger, a Sports Illustrated writer of great integrity, withdrew from the project because Piazza wouldn’t commit in writing to tell the truth about steroids.

This is dangerous territory for Chass, but you know what? At least he’s going out on a limb a bit.  I have no idea if Piazza did steroids, but Chass is at least willing to make an accusation. Say what you will about it, but it’s gutsy. More gutsy than that enigmatic “I have my suspicions” business we’ve been hearing lately. Back acne and “everyone knew he did it” is not as damning as the stuff we read about Barry Bonds in “Game of Shadows,” but it’s more than anyone has managed to throw at Bagwell.

I wish those reporters who Chass says will freely tell you that Piazza did steroids would say something.  As a wise man once said, “I prefer a straight fight to all this sneakin’ around.”

And just because someone asks this in every thread, let me clarify my think-through on this stuff: I view the business of making PED accusations and the Hall of Fame to be two distinct, albeit related things.  I don’t like baseless accusations. I think evidence-based accusations are good journalism. If there is no evidence against a guy, it’s horse hockey to withhold a Hall of Fame vote. If and when someone is determined to be a PED user through some evidence, however, voters may feel free to exercise their consciences in that regard even if I disagree on that and wouldn’t withhold a vote for a guy simply because he used PEDs.

(thanks to Jason at IIATMS for the heads up)

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel lead 19 newcomers on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot

Getty Images
16 Comments

Hall of Fame ballots for the 2018 induction class have been mailed out to the Baseball Writers Association of America voters and the names on the ballot were released to the public this morning. Among the top newcomers: Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel, Andruw Jones, Kerry Wood and Jamie Moyer . There are 19 new candidates in all. There are, of course, several holdovers too.

The newcomers, in alphabetical order:

Chris Carpenter
Johnny Damon
Livan Hernandez
Orlando Hudson
Aubrey Huff
Andruw Jones
Chipper Jones
Jason Isringhausen
Carlos Lee
Brad Lidge
Hideki Matsui
Kevin Millwood
Jamie Moyer
Scott Rolen
Johan Santana
Jim Thome
Omar Vizquel
Kerry Wood
Carlos Zambrano

Chipper Jones, the 1999 MVP, one of the best switch-hitters of all time and the unparalleled offensive star of the great Braves teams of the 1990s and early 2000s seems like a shoe-in. His case is boosted above his fantastic offensive numbers in the eyes of many voters by virtue of playing for the same team for his entire career.

Jim Thome is probably going to get a very large vote total and possibly will be inducted, having hit over 600 homers in his career. A challenge to his first-year induction is presented by the very large backlog of deserving candidates, which we’ll discuss in a moment, and by the fact that Thome’s career corresponded with baseball’s home run boom of the 1990s. Unlike other passed-over candidates of his era, Thome was never implicated in performance enhancing drug use, but it is the case that homers became cheaper for everyone during his career, and some may consider him a one-dimensional candidate. I suspect he’ll be in Cooperstown soon, be it this year or next year.

Omar Vizquel will receive a lot of support but his candidacy will also draw a lot of controversy. His backers will cite his defense and his longevity. His detractors will note that his defense was nowhere near as good as other defense-first inductees in the past such as Ozzie Smith, and that it was in no way good enough to make up for his below average bat. Complicating all of this will be fact that two superior defensive candidates who happened to have outstanding offensive numbers to go with them — Andruw Jones and Scott Rolen — are unlikely to receive anything approaching the level of support Vizquel will get, leading to . . . a lot of arguing.

And now the holdovers from last year’s ballot and ballots past, with last year’s percentage of the vote in parenthesis. Candidates need 75% of the vote in order to be inducted:

Barry Bonds (53.8)
Roger Clemens (54.1)
Vladimir Guerrero (71.1)
Trevor Hoffman (74.0)
Jeff Kent (16.7)
Edgar Martinez (58.6)
Fred McGriff (21.7)
Mike Mussina (51.8)
Manny Ramirez (23.8)
Curt Schilling (45.0)
Gary Sheffield (13.3)
Sammy Sosa (8.6)
Billy Wagner (10.2)
Larry Walker (21.9)

We’ve talked about all of these guys before, of course. Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero seem likely to be elected given how close they came to induction last year. Many quite worthy candidates such as Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling will likely continue to receive less support than they deserve. PED-associated candidates Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each received a boost in their previously-flagging candidacies last year, getting over 50% of the vote for the first time, but it’s unlikely that they’ll jump 22 and 21 points, respectively. Lesser PED-associated candidates such as Sammy Sosa and Manny Ramirez will likely forever remain on the outside looking in.

The results of the election will be announced by Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson at 6 p.m. ET, Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018, live on MLB Network.