Wojciechowski: the Giants won the world series because Barry Bonds was gone

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ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski has made a mini-career out of moralizing about steroids in baseball.  Sure, lots of guys do that, but Wojciechowski isn’t exactly the straightest shooter in the bunch. Indeed, between Wojciechowski’s crocodile tears and his casual intellectual dishonesty, he’s basically the Glenn Beck of the steroids beat.

Once he beat up on steroids users, equating them with guys who gambled on baseball games and wondering why their punishments weren’t equal. What he didn’t do, however, was point out that there was, you know, an actual rule on the books specifying how gamblers shall be punished and there wasn’t one at the time about what to do with pre-testing steroids users. Oh, and in that same report he chastised Mark McGwire for not talking to the media when, in fact, McGwire had spent an entire week doing nothing but talking to the media, including Wojciechowski’s own ESPN colleagues.

Another time he waxed all emotional about how his trust will be betrayed and his innocence lost if he found out that Derek Jeter was found to be juicing because of the whole Yankee pride thing, without mentioning the fact that a whole bunch of Yankees were named in the Mitchell Report.  It was a dramatic tour de force. Really it was.

The latest entry on his big chalk board: the 2010 Giants would never have won the World Series if Barry Bonds was on the team:

Barry Bonds helped the San Francisco Giants win the World Series last season. And he could help them win it again this season.  How? Because he’s not a Giant anymore.  When Bonds and his toxic presence was finally removed by the hazmat people after the 2007 season, the Giants began to win more games. Not a lot at first, but enough to realize that Bonds’ forced departure was like an emergency tracheotomy on the franchise’s windpipe. The Giants could finally breathe again.

And it goes on and on like that, transitioning into a meditation on the Giants’ great team chemistry.

To which I’d ask: does Woj actually believe that Barry Bonds in his prime — and for that matter, Barry Bonds during his ascendancy or his decline — wouldn’t have done more to help the Giants win the World Series last year than Pat Burrell did with his 0 for 13 and 11K performance?  More generally, is it really Wojciechowski’s position that it was the existence of Barry Bonds that kept the Giants from winning the World Series between 1993 and 2007?  That, if all else were equal but Bonds gone, the Giants would have had more success, not less?

I get it: Wojciechowski hates Barry Bonds and everything he stood for. That’s great, because a lot of people do.  But it’s one thing to hate a guy and another to assert something as ridiculous as Barry Bonds presence actually hindered, rather than helped the Giants’ baseball performance. That’s simply ludicrous.

Mariano Rivera elected to Baseball Hall of Fame unanimously

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Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).

Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.

Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.

Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.