Please stop with the “Great Clean Hope” nonsense

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Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch spends some time talking about A-Rod and then turns his attention to Ken Griffey Jr.

Ken Griffey Jr. was placed in the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame on Saturday night. That was the perfect antidote to whatever A-Rod has wrought.

A lot of people may have forgotten how good Ken Griffey was. Maybe there are kids today who have no memory of his legacy. We can’t allow that to happen. Griffey was someone we can all believe in. I want everyone to remember every one of those 630 home runs Griffey hit, because they are the rare ones that were not fueled by a mad scientist’s illegal brew. Every one of them was hit with nothing more than the strength of Griffey’s pure natural abilities. This was all about his family’s rich baseball DNA.

And Burwell knows this, how exactly?

I don’t think Griffey juiced. I hope he didn’t. But I don’t know. And neither does Burwell. Indeed, as commenter cohnjusack demonstrated in the Albert Pujols defamation thread yesterday, one could make the common bullcrap/innuendo case against Griffey that has been made about all sorts of players over the years:  He hit 50 home runs multiple times in the 1990s and was threatening Roger Maris’ record;  he saw a large, sudden jump in home runs (27 to 45) over the course of a year; he became chronically injured; he got noticeably bigger, going from this to this. All of the pieces fit if you believe the stupid armchair PED “experts.”

The point here, though, is not that Griffey could have juiced — again, I doubt he did — but that it is beyond stupid and naive, at this late date, to play the “Great Clean Hope” card. To say “this one, this guy I loved, at least he never cheated!” game. We did before, after all, with current History’s Greatest Monster Alex Rodriguez. Remember this from the New York Times in 2006?

The cause of Bonds’s physical changes has been endlessly scrutinized; he has repeatedly denied knowingly using steroids, and baseball only began testing for them in 2003. The worst accusation against Rodriguez is that he bragged too much about his workouts in an interview last spring. Whatever people think of him personally, the legitimacy of Rodriguez’s performance has never been questioned … If he continues to avoid injury, the home run record could be his. If Bonds is the man whom Rodriguez is chasing, it is safe to say baseball will be rooting for him.

If we have learned anything in the past decade it’s that talking up ballplayers as ideals of virtue is idiotic. The only reason we do it is to better trash the other guys. And, I suppose, so that we feel morally justified in saying we were “betrayed” when the objects of our idolization later prove to have been fallible after all.

I would be disappointed if, say, we found out Griffey was on that list of 100 players who tested positive during the trial tests back in 2004. But then I’d move on pretty quickly. If you believe what Burwell does — that Griffey was pure despite not knowing that for a fact at all — you are bound to be betrayed and outraged. Why you want to do that to yourself is beyond me. But do realize that your’e doing it to yourself.

Giants place Hunter Pence on 10-day disabled list with right thumb sprain

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The Giants placed outfielder Hunter Pence on the 10-day disabled list with a right thumb sprain, per an official announcement on Friday. Pence initially sustained the injury during the club’s home opener on April 3, when he dove to intercept a line drive double from Robinson Cano and jammed his thumb. Weeks of playing through the pain hasn’t worked, so he’ll take a breather while the Giants give outfielder Mac Williamson a chance to start in left after getting called up from Triple-A Fresno.

Pence, 35, wouldn’t pin his recent struggles on his injury, but it’s clear that he’s having difficulty finding his footing this year. He slashed a meager .172/.197/.190 through 61 plate appearances in 2018, collecting just one extra-base hit and two walks during the Giants’ dismal 7-11 stretch. While it’s far too early in the season to make any final judgments, it doesn’t look like the veteran outfielder will be replicating the .275+ average, 4.0+ fWAR totals of years past (at least, not anytime soon).

Williamson, meanwhile, has gotten off to a hot start in Triple-A. Prior to his call-up this weekend, the 27-year-old batted an incredible .487/.600/1.026 with six home runs and a 1.626 OPS through his first 50 PA. A hot Triple-A bat doesn’t always survive the transition to the majors, but the Giants will use all the help they can get — especially as they take on the AL West-leading Angels this weekend.