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.

Mike Trout says Harper and Machado’s free agency experience sent up “red flags”

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Mike Trout signed a record-setting contract extension last week, agreeing to ten more years tacked on to his existing deal at $35.45 million a year. It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at and, I’m quite sure, Trout will not lose any sleep over financial matters for the rest of his days.

One wonders, though, what he might’ve commanded had he hit free agency. If he had been bid on by more than one team. Sure, there is some upward limit to how much even a guy of Trout’s caliber might get, but you have to assume that if a couple more teams were able to get in on that action that that $35.45 million a year could’ve been topped.

Did he give any thoughts to testing the market? Maybe not serious ones, but he certainly observed the market this past winter and didn’t much care for what he saw. He said this to Fabiran Ardaya of The Athletic last night:

“I kind of saw what Bryce and Manny went through and it drew a red flag for me. I talked to Manny and Bryce. It was a tough couple months in the offseason. They put it perspective in my mind.”

He added, “I obviously want to be an Angel for life. That was a big key,” so it’s not like this was purely some matter of Trout being scared off the market. But it’s also the case that the market has become fraught for even the best players in the game and has influenced their decision making to a considerable degree. Part of Mike Trout’s decision to sign that deal was how unwelcoming the free agent market looked like it’d be even for him.

And it’s not just Trout. To see how unpalatable free agency has become one need merely look at the bevy of contract extensions agreed to over the past week or two. Each one of those, however lucrative they may be, represent a player foregoing the open market in favor of negotiating with a single bidder with greater leverage as a result. While some of those choices, like Trout’s, do not cost the players much more than, perhaps, some rounding error on his ultimate contract, others, like pre-arbitration players, are likely foregoing tens of millions of dollars in order to make a deal now instead of a few years later. And, of course, each team that signs a player to an extension is less likely to be active in an upcoming free agency period, reducing the number of bidders and thus applying downward pressure on salaries for those players who do hit the open market.

For the first century or so of baseball history the Reserve Clause ruled baseball economics. Under that system, a team which possessed the rights to a player could not be deprived of that player’s services if it did not want to be. When it came time to decide what to pay a player only one team could bid, giving it all the leverage. Then free agency came. Owners fought like hell against its implementation. They lost that battle and then attempted to roll it back as much as they could, even employing illegal tactics at times in an effort to do so, but they didn’t have much luck.

In the past two or three years, however, they have done what decades of efforts could not do: they have effectively taken away a full and open free market for players and have returned the game to a state in which the team which holds a players’ rights is, effectively, the only bidder for his services and has the power to retain him on favorable terms.

It’s not the restoration of the old reserve clause, exactly, but when the best player in baseball since Willie Mays is wary of the open market, you have to admit that it’s far, far closer to it than anyone thought the owners would ever get.