Let’s ruin other Halls of Fame with dumb PED arguments too

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The conversation about the National Baseball Hall of Fame has become near garbage thanks to people thinking more about morals and ethics than actual baseball. But hey, at least there is a shred of a justification for that what with the “character clause” for voters. But what’s the excuse for lesser, team-specific halls of fame?

Specifically, the Red Sox, who yesterday announced that Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez and Nomar Garciaparra will be inducted. No controversy there, right? Two of the greatest pitchers of all time who did their best work in a Red Sox uniform and a guy who was the team’s offensive heart and soul for nearly a decade? We can’t argue with that, can we?

Sure we can. Or at least Gerry Callahan can:

First question for the Red Sox Hall of Fame committee: You couldn’t have waited another year? Or two? Or five? You had to bestow this honor on disgraced cheater Roger Clemens in the same year as Pedro Martinez? This is just wrong. This is like making Willie Mays share the stage with Barry Bonds, or allowing Mark McGwire to walk arm-in-arm into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame with Stan Musial.

Why is it so hard for the Sox Hall of Fame folks to say, “You cheated. You lied. You won’t go to jail, Mr. Clemens, but you can’t come in here.”

So does Jose Canseco get in next year?

He doesn’t like that Nomar is going in either because he once posed shirtless on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Seriously. That’s his reasoning.

It may be hard for media yakkers to grok this, but there are a ton — just oodles — of fans who don’t give a crap about any of that. Who watched Clemens and Garciaparra do great things in Fenway Park and, even if they don’t love them the way people love Pedro, appreciated their talent and associate them with fantastic baseball. That, for most people, it really is just about the baseball. It really is that simple.

Neal Huntington thinks players should be allowed to re-enter games after concussion testing

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Pirates catcher Francisco Cervelli, who has suffered many concussions throughout his 12-year career, was hit on the back of the helmet on a Joc Pederson backswing Saturday against the Dodgers. Through Cervelli remained in the game initially, he took himself out of the game shortly thereafter and went on the seven-day concussion injured list on Sunday.

Perhaps inspired by Saturday’s event, Pirates GM Neal Huntington suggested that players should be allowed to re-enter games once they have passed concussion tests, the Associated Press reports. Huntington said, “Any player that had an obvious concussion risk incident should be allowed to be removed from the game, taken off the field, taken into the locker room, assessed by a doctor, assessed by a trainer, go through an extended period of time and then re-enter the game. Because right now, all of this has to happen on the field.”

Huntington added, “The player has to feel pressure as he’s standing there with 30,000 or 10,000 or 50,000 eyes on him. He has to feel pressure to make a decision whether (he’s) in or (he’s) out of this game. He knows if he takes himself out and he’s the catcher, there’s only one other catcher, and the game becomes a fiasco if that other catcher gets hurt.”

Huntington, who has been forward-thinking on a number of other issues, has it wrong here. The concussion protocols were created because players frequently hid or under-reported their injuries in order to remain in the game. Especially for younger or otherwise less-proven players, there is pressure to have to constantly perform in order to keep one’s job. Furthermore, there is an overarching sentiment across sports that taking time off due to injury makes one weak. Similarly, playing while injured is seen as tough and masculine. Creating protocols that take the decision-making out of players’ hands keeps them from making decisions that aren’t in their own best interests. Removing them would bring back that pressure for players to hide or minimize their ailments. If anything, MLB’s concussion protocols should become more stringent, not more relaxed.

The powers that be with Major League Baseball have no doubt followed the concussion scandal surrounding the National Football League. In January, the NFL settled for over $1 billion with retired players dealing with traumatic brain injuries, including dementia, Lou Gehrig’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and Alzheimer’s disease. For years, the league refused to acknowledge the link between playing football and CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which is a neurodegenerative disease that can lead to dementia and has many negative effects, such as increasing the risk of suicide. Since baseball isn’t often a contact sport, MLB doesn’t have to worry about brain injuries to this degree, but it still needs to take preventative measures in order to avoid billion-dollar lawsuits as well as avoiding P.R. damage. In December 2012, former major league outfielder Ryan Freel committed suicide. Freel, who claimed to have suffered as many as 10 concussions, suffered from CTE. MLB players can suffer brain injuries just like football players.

Huntington seems to be worried about not having enough rostered catchers in the event one or two catchers get injured. That is really an issue of roster management. Carrying only two catchers on the roster is a calculated risk, often justified. Huntington can ensure his team never has to be put in the position of not having a catcher in an emergency by rostering a third catcher. Rosters are expanding to 26 players next year, by the way.