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Frank Thomas accuses Ivan Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell of being PED users

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Hall of Famer Frank Thomas was at a White Sox fan event over the weekend and the subject of the Hall of Fame and performance enhancing drugs came up. While The Big Hurt did not mention anyone by name, he quite clearly took aim at the two men who were recently elected to the Hall of Fame: Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez. Thomas:

“They’ve let a few people in already we all know . . . It’s uncomfortable at this point. I’m sure this year’s going to be uncomfortable because we’ve got two great players going in, but they know. It’s no secret. If they didn’t do it, they would be stomping and kicking and in interviews saying, ‘I didn’t do it.'”

Bagwell and Rodriguez have both been suspected of using PEDs in their career. Bagwell with no public evidence or reporting, Rodriguez via speculation based on his reduced physique in the second part of his career and by Jose Canseco accusing him in his book “Juiced” of using PEDs. Bagwell has denied using drugs. He did not “kick and scream” as he did so, even if his accusers often have had immature meltdowns about it. Rodriguez has denied use as well.

Thomas went on to suggest that he and his Hall of Fame brethren are not happy about the election of Bagwell and Rodriguez or of Mike Piazza last year, who was often accused, without evidence, of taking PEDs:

“Trust me, there’s a lot of internal talk going on. A lot of guys that I respect that are real, true Hall of Famers, all they have is their legacy. They didn’t make this kind of money . . . They’re not happy about this at all.”

It strikes me that if Thomas is prepared to identify some players as “real, true Hall of Famers,” while throwing accusations at others without evidence, that he should come up with a label for them as well. “Phony Hall of Famers?” Something like that? What is it Frank?

In other news, a lot of “real, true Hall of Famers” had strong opinions about the men who came after them as well, thinking less of them for all manner of reasons big and small. Not least of which includes their status as designated hitters. One wonders what they thought when Thomas was inducted.

Oh good, it’s “Yasiel Puig is a showboat” season

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With the Los Angeles Dodgers punching their ticket to the World Series, Yasiel Puig is now going to be the subject of commentary by people who tend not to care about Yasiel Puig until it’s useful for them to write outraged columns or go on talk radio rants about baseball deportment.

We got a brief teaser of this last night when, after scoring the Dodgers’ ninth run on a Logan Forsythe double, TBS analyst Ron Darling criticized Puig for his “shenanigans” and “rubbing it in.” Never mind that his third base coach was waving him home and that, if he didn’t run hard, he was just as likely to be criticized for dogging it. In other news, baseball teams don’t stop trying in the fourth inning of baseball games, nor should they.

That was just an appetizer, though. The first real course of the “Puig is a problem” feast we’re likely to be served over the next week and a half comes from Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, who wrote it even before the Dodgers won Game 5 last night:

If you were raised to love baseball and to recognize the smart, winning kind from everything less, the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig is insufferable. As the sport is diminished by professionals who disregard the basic act of running to first base as a matter of style, Puig, an incurable home-plate poser, often makes turning doubles and triples into singles appear effortless . . . In the postseason, Puig continues to behave as if he’s in the Home Run Derby. He even seems to relish his high-risk flamboyant foolishness despite frequent backfires.

This may as well be a fill in the blanks column from 2013 or 2014, when “Puig is a flashy showboater who costs his team more than he gives it” columns were all the rage. It ignores the fact that Puig, commonly dinged for being lazy, worked his butt off in 2017, particularly on defense, to the point where he has a strong case for a Gold Glove this year. It also ignores his .455/.538/.727 line in the NLDS sweep of the Diamondbacks and his .389/.500/.611 line against the Cubs in the NLCS. In the regular season he set career highs for games, homers, RBI, stolen bases and almost set a career high for walks despite having seventy fewer plate appearances than he did back in 2013 when he walked 67 times. He’s not the MVP candidate some thought he might be, but he’s a fantastic player who has been a key part of the Dodgers winning their first pennant in 29 years.

But the dings on Puig from the likes of Mushnick have rarely been about production. They’ve simply been about style and the manner in which he’s carried himself. To the extent those issues were legitimate points of criticism — particularly his tardiness, his relationships with his teammates and his at times questionable dedication — they have primarily been in-house concerns for the Dodgers, not the casual fan like Mushnick. On that score the Dodgers have dealt with Puig and, by all accounts, Puig has responded pretty well. An occasional lapse to be sure, but nothing which makes him a greater burden than a benefit. I mean, if he was, would be be batting cleanup in a pennant-clinching game?

So if the beef with Puig is not really about baseball, what could Phil Mushnick’s issue with him possible be?

I, for one, have no idea whatsoever.