Pedro Gomez embodies the intellectual dishonesty of the anti-PEDs bloc of the Hall of Fame electorate

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ESPN’s Pedro Gomez had some back and forth on Twitter last night about the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose came up, but so too did PED users — or rumored users — like Jeff Bagwell.

Here’s Gomez’s tweet in response to someone who thinks it is unfair for Gomez and his “500 friends,” as Gomez later referred to the Hall of Fame electorate, to keep Bagwell out:

This is screwy for two reasons. First, because of the McCarthyite “Look! He never denied doing that awful thing we keep saying he did!” jazz, which has no place in mature discourse. I’m sure I can think of all kinds of things Pedro Gomez might have done and start tweeting about them all day. If Gomez doesn’t deny them, does it make it true? Is that how we roll in the sporting press, gentlemen?

But it’s screwy for a much more basic reason:  Bagwell has repeatedly denied that he took steroids. Most recently to Gomez’s own ESPN colleague, Jerry Crasnick:

Jeff Bagwell first denied using performance-enhancing drugs during a 2004 interview with the Houston Chronicle. The passage of time hasn’t altered his words or softened his emotions on the topic. Bagwell, to this day, asserts that he never touched steroids or other illegal performance-enhancers…

… “I never used [steroids], and I’ll tell you exactly why: If I could hit between 30 and 40 home runs every year and drive in 120 runs, why did I need to do anything else? I was pretty happy with what I was doing, and that’s the God’s honest truth. All of a sudden guys were starting to hit 60 or 70 home runs and people were like, ‘Dude, if you took [PEDs], you could do it too.’ And I was like, ‘I’m good where I’m at. I just want to do what I can do.’

You can choose not to believe Jeff Bagwell here — players who have used PEDs have obviously said such things before — but you cannot say that he has not denied using steroids. No, in order to hold the stance that Gomez holds on Bagwell, he has to call Bagwell a liar.

But he’s apparently too cowardly or too ignorant to do that.  He’d prefer to play this cutesy, oblique, intellectually dishonest game, smearing a man while trying desperately to not get his hands dirty.  It’s pathetic.

UPDATE:  Gomez has responded:

So, I presume now that either (a) Gomez will change his Hall of Fame vote and support Bagwell’s induction; or (b) what Bagwell said, and whether or not he actually did PEDs is a wholly irrelevant concern for Gomez, and he was just being disingenuous about it all.

Of course, given that he has basically taken his ball and stormed home, we probably shouldn’t hold our breath waiting for a reply.

Astros clinch AL West for third consecutive year

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For the third consecutive season, the Astros are AL West champions. The ‘stros clinched the division on Sunday afternoon with a convincing 13-5 win over the Angels. They were backed by three homers from leadoff man George Springer and individual homers from Alex Bregman and Aledmys Díaz.

Springer has the 22nd three-homer game in baseball this season. He’s the first Astro to hit three homers in a game since Yordan Álvarez last month, on August 10.

Justin Verlander lasted five innings in Sunday’s start, yielding two runs on six hits and a pair of walks with five strikeouts. The right-hander is arguably the frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award, now 20-6 with a 2.53 ERA and a 288/42 K/BB ratio in 217 innings on the year. Verlander is 12 strikeouts shy of the 300-strikeout milestone and six strikeouts short of 3,000 for his career. If the Astros stay on schedule, Verlander would pitch the second-to-last game of the regular season against the Angels.

Sunday’s win marked No. 102 on the season for the Astros. The franchise record is 103 wins set last year. With six games remaining, it seems likely the Astros will set a new record.

The Astros and Yankees both won on Sunday, meaning the Astros remain a half-game ahead in the race for home field advantage. The No. 1 seed will also have the privilege of playing the Wild Card winner, which is down to the Athletics, Rays, and Indians.