Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 3

A Hall of Fame voter still needs more information about Barry Bonds’ PED use?

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I understand the idea of wanting to be more informed about things before making a Hall of Fame vote.  To want to have a fuller picture of the PED-era before casting votes for certain players.  I am not a fan of those who accuse with no evidence, but I do have some sympathy for people who genuinely wonder if certain players may have taken PEDs when, really, we don’t know that much about it with respect to some of them.

But even if you subscribe to that view, I don’t know how you can say we don’t know enough about Barry Freakin’  Bonds.  Yet Mark Purdy of the Mercury-News wants to know more, and he won’t vote for Bonds — or anyone else from that era, it seems — until he knows more.

Maybe I just followed this more closely than he did, but it’s not like there is a dearth of info on Barry Bonds’ drug use. I mean, multiple books have been written about it. Purdy himself sat through the entire Bonds perjury trial and heard more than anyone would want to know about it. He was no more than 30 feet away from live witnesses talking about Bonds’ testicular atrophy for crying out loud. Does he really think there is more that we need to probe here? And yes, I do believe it would literally take a probe to learn anything more about Barry Bonds’ body.

But that’s his position and he’s sticking to it. Here’s another position he has:

I have advocated an amnesty proclamation from MLB and Cooperstown. For a one-year period, former players would have the ability to tell the truth about their steroid use with no punishment or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame. That way, voters would be able to make better judgments and make their selections without any angst.

Amnesty? From what? There are already zero punishments or ramifications from baseball or the Hall of Fame for these guys. They are eligible. Some are still playing. Some are coaches and managerial candidates. They’re all listed on the ballot when their time comes. Baseball has decided that they are every bit a part of the fraternity as anyone else is.  What would some phony-baloney offer of amnesty provide for them that they don’t already have?

I suppose Purdy believes that it would give them some sort of cover from the wrath of the writers who look askance at PED guys. Fat chance. The writers who look askance at PED guys tend to take the following approach to the sort of information Purdy thinks would clear the air:

1. We want more information! Shlabotnik needs to come clean!

2. Fine, Shlabotnik has apologized, but it raises more questions!

3. That in-depth interview in which Shlabotnik answers all the questions was so self-serving it makes me sick!

And, of course, these are the same people who consider a drug testing regime that catches people to be evidence that drug testing is a joke. You could provide daily CT-scans, fluid samples, lie detector tests and oaths from God Himself and a certain segment of writer is going to think it insufficient. There is no pleasing them, and the last thing baseball players should do is to try.

And Purdy has already shown himself to be one of that sad, never-satisfied crew. Last year, on the eve of the Bonds verdict, he wrote a column in which he wrung his hands about Bonds’ legacy in San Francisco. He worried in light of the allegedly new revelations of the trial, what the team and the city and the fans do with Bonds if he was found not-guilty. Or, for that matter, if he was found guilty. He, in quite familiar fashion, made it sound like there was some crisis afoot.

Except, as I demonstrated at the time, all of his concerns had long been answered. The city, the fans and the team all embraced Bonds despite already knowing all of the things Purdy suddenly considered damning, and knowing them for years. It was a non-issue to everyone except Mark Purdy by then, despite his claims that there were Important Unsettled Matters.

The lesson here: Mark Purdy, and many like him, are professional hand-wringers. He used the word “angst” above, and it’s pretty apt. He has an angst about PEDs in baseball that will never, ever go away no matter what he learns and no matter what information comes to light. Which means one of two things: either Purdy is simply not and never will be comfortable with PEDs in baseball, or else he’s cynically saying that there are uncertainties and concerns when there are not in order to kick up a morally indignant fuss in a column.

If it’s the former, it’s OK Mark, let it go and just don’t vote for these guys ever. Lots of voters feel that way and just because I disagree with you on that, at least it’s a defensible position.

If it’s the latter, though, cut the crap, will ya?

Murray Chass rightfully nails Major League Baseball on minority hiring

Rob Manfred
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When Murray Chass lays off his vendettas against the people he feels have wronged him, he’s still capable of making some sharp points. Particularly when he’s working in his old bailiwick of the business of baseball.

On Sunday he wrote a blog post about minority hiring in baseball. As in, the nearly complete lack of it, at least in front offices:

Manfred has talked a better job on minority hiring than he has performed. He has created a pipeline program through which members of minorities are supposed to be able to advance into major league front office positions. However, no role models seem to exist as inspiration for younger employees.

In Manfred’s 20 months as commissioner, clubs have hired or promoted 19 high-ranking executives. Eighteen of the 19 are white males. The lone minority is Al Avila, the Tigers’ general manager.

Chass reports that Rob Manfred and, in the past, Bud Selig have leaned on clubs to hire friends or trusted lieutenants but claim they have no power to tell clubs who to hire when it comes to minorities. It’s pretty dang good point.

Moving beyond Chass’ points, it’s worth observing that one way baseball could better populate the executive ranks would be to hire more minorities in entry-level positions. What a better way to become a friend and crony than to have, you know, been there a long time? The game has had a horrible track record in doing this, however, for one simple reason: it pays crap wages for all but the highest of executive positions, pushing away candidates for whom money is, in fact, an object to pursuing a dream in baseball which, by demographic necessity, favors the rich and thus favors whites. Earlier this year MLB launched a pipeline program aimed at getting more minority candidates into entry level MLB jobs. That’s a good start to addressing the problem, but it’s going to take years for that to bear fruit, assuming it ever does.

Back in June Kate Morrison and Russell A. Carleton of Baseball Prospectus wrote a four-part series regarding this very issue, and it’s well worth your time. Among the points made is one that, given his vendettas, Chass surprisingly didn’t make himself: sabermetrics is partially to blame! Go read Kate and Russell’s work on that, but the short version: front offices want MBA/STEM types now, not people with athletic backgrounds. People with those degrees have expensive educations and, in turn, cannot afford to take pennies to work in baseball when they can make far more in other industries, thereby continuing to favor the rich and the white.

I don’t think Rob Manfred or Bud Selig before him or the people who run major league baseball teams are bigots. I don’t think that baseball, as a whole, wants to keep minorities out of top jobs. Chass doesn’t make such a claim either and he, like I, noted the pipeline program.

But baseball is a business rife with cronyism and nepotism which leads those in power to hire friends and relatives, thereby keeping the executive class overwhelmingly male and white. Baseball has shown that, when it wants to, it can lean on teams to make certain hiring choices. Will it do the same to push for greater minority representation in management ranks? Or will it continue to throw up its hands up and say “hey, that’s on the clubs?”

Tim Tebow hits a homer in his first instructional league at bat

PORT ST. LUCIE, FL - SEPTEMBER 20: Tim Tebow #15 of the New York Mets hits a home run at an instructional league day at Tradition Field on September 20, 2016 in Port St. Lucie, Florida. (Photo by Rob Foldy/Getty Images)
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Because of course he did.

It wasn’t just his first at bat, but it was his first pitch. It came off of John Kilichowski, an 11th round draft pick of the St. Louis Cardinals out of Vanderbilt.  The ball went out to left center, off the bat of the lefty Tebow.

Next time, meat, throw him a breaking ball.