Cut it Out, Bud

Bud Selig is a fine steward of the game when things go well, but he’s dangerous when he tries to, you know, do anything. Here’s a good example of that:

Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig reportedly is considering restoring the crown to Aaron, who lost it in 2007 to Barry Bonds . . . “This is breaking my heart, I don’t mind telling you that,” Selig told USA Today in an interview published Thursday, disclosing that he is considering removing Bonds from the top of the home run list.

Hank Aaron used amphetamines, does that make Babe Ruth the champ? Babe Ruth corked his bat. Does that mean Roger Connor is the home run champ? Roger Connor played at a time when the game was outrageously dirty and gambling and throwing games was commonplace. Does that make Harry Stovey the champ? Many of Stovey’s homers came in the old American Association, and who knows whether that league was as competitive as the NL. Does that mean Dan Brouthers, Charley Jones or Jim O’Rourke is the champ? If so, I’m guessing Lip Pike’s descendants have something to say about that.

Baseball history is a patchwork of different eras, different rules, and yes, multiple flavors of cheating and nastiness. Heck, that’s one of the things I like about it so much. Not the cheating as such, mind you, but the fact that the game has a rich and varied history that lends itself to argument, analysis and, occasionally, uncertainty. I like all three of those things!

Any attempt by Selig or anyone else to pretend that which has happened to records and standards in “The Steroid Era” is utterly unprecedented in baseball history proves his ignorance of that history. Even worse, he takes a step towards whitewashing the pre-steroid eras in ways that I don’t believe they could hope to appreciate with those pea brains of theirs.

Cut it out, Bud, before you hurt someone.

(thanks to Sara K for the link and, more importantly, for acting as the sounding board for the rant that preceded this post)

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  1. Pete Toms said...

    I’ve been a big defender of Bud but this is wrong and hypocritical.

    Having said that, I bet it would be very popular with the rank n file fan.  Most casual fans would applaud Bud for stickin it to Bonds.  Not me or probably most of the readers of this blog or BP or BTF and the such but…

  2. Sara K said...

    And if they invalidate his HR total, are those stats stricken from the records entirely?  What happens to the records of the pitchers involved?  If proof of steroid use is grounds from invalidation of stats, how many other players’ stats will be affected? Surely someone with a cooler head is horse-whispering to Bud right now, explaining how this idea could never, ever work…I hope.

  3. Chris H. said...

    This could be the dumbest idea Bud’s ever had, which is saying a great deal.  I can’t believe he even said this.

    Could I see such an idea cross his mind, fleetingly?  Sure.  But to actually consider it, let alone say so publicly?

    Wow.  Just…wow.

  4. Jake (San Diego) said...

    Outrageous…  Sure, let’s all pretend history didn’t happen, just take the blue pill and believe that everything’s all right…

  5. MooseinOhio said...

    If over half of the players busted for using steroids are pitchers and we make the assumption that this is representative of the larger population of players who used PEDs then hitters were disadvantaged as well.  So Bonds and others hitters had to stand in against a PEDs enhanced Clemens or Pettitte or a relief pitcher who without PEDs was not as effective in his second inning on the second consectutive night of pitching. 

    Didn’t this in essence balance the scales somewhat so Bonds homers against other PEDs uses could be considered more ‘legit’ as the playing field was leveled.  Granted he hit homers against non-PEDs users and also was able to play more effectively in 25 or so more games a year (which I believe was the greatest benefit he received) than he would have without but it hard to for me to say he had a completely unfair advantage. 

    As for the validity of the HR record I agree with Craig that in when viewed in it contexts and the now identified Steroids Era then I can live with it.  Just I can live with knowing that ptichers had a distinct advantage with higher mounds in decades past but we don’t seem to be adjusting their numbers to accommodate the new mound height.  We simply look at the stats in the context of the era and do out best to identify those who were a notch above in their era.

  6. Daniel said...

    In trying to argue against this proposal, you don’t have to go any farther than the slippery slope issue.  If you strike Bonds’ record, where do you stop?  Don’t you have to seriously look at all the other stats that have been put up in this era?  What happens to A-Rod?  What about Clemens?

    I hate that Bonds (and others) took steroids.  But how can you quantify what advantage it gave him?  You can’t.

    This is just absurd.  Leave it alone, Bud.

  7. ElBonte said...

    I have a better idea:

    Let’s have the Home Run King determined by the winner of next year’s All Star Game!  AL -> Aaron, NL -> Bonds, tie goes to Ruth.

  8. Marty said...

    Screw the stat totals. You go back and say “X homers never happened” you have to talk about the results of games those homers occurred in. If the homers are somehow tainted, then the games are, too. You can’t take the homers and leave the games. Silly.

  9. Sara K said...

    Apparently, 78% of “SportsNation” considers Hank Aaron to be the Home Run King.  Looks like Pete has his finger on the pulse of Joe Fan from Everytown, USA.

  10. David Burden said...

    I feel like something’s missed here – can’t we say that Bonds hit more homers than Aaron, and still say Aaron is the King?  I don’t see how removing Bonds’ “title” requires the scorebooks to be changed.  It’s just a title.

    I’m getting a bit tired of the comparisons between steroids & amphetamines, too.  Do we really think they’re equivalent?

    I certainly hope they don’t try and pretend the steroid era didn’t happen, but I’m fine with calling Aaron the King if we think steroid use is, in fact, worse than what’s come before.  Of course, we can always give Bonds the “title” back if we later change our collective mind.

  11. lar said...

    There’s no doubt that,if MLB were to do that, it would be the most ridiculous thing that Selig’s ever done.


    Selig didn’t say anything like “We’re looking into striking A-Rod’s numbers from the books” or “Option B is to take A-Rod’s home runs away from him”. A reporter asked him if he would consider reinstating Hank as the home-run king and he said “Once you start tinkering, you can create more problems. But I’m not dismissing it. I’m concerned. I’d like to get some more evidence.”

    I think it’s kind of silly to classify that as “considering restoring the crown to Aaron.” To me, it sounds more like “that’s a stupid question, but I can’t say ‘no’ or someone will get mad at me, so I’ll waffle instead.” Sure, Bud probably should have been a little more resolute, but I don’t think he’s at all considering such a thing. It’s too ludicrous, and Bud knows it. After all, he’s been using the “slippery slope” argument for years.

    Here’s a quote from the USA Today article:

    ‘When asked in a telephone interview if he would consider suspending Rodriguez, Selig recalled that he “had put a bulletin out” about the illegality of steroid use in 1997, even though MLB had no drug testing at that time. Rodriguez tested positive in 2003, according to Sports Illustrated, and now has admitted to ESPN that he used performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003.

    “It was against the law, so I would have to think about that,” Selig said of possible action against Rodriguez. “It’s very hard. I’ve got to think about all that kind of stuff.”

    Asked if he would consider reinstating Henry Aaron as baseball’s home-run king and adding an asterisk or some other notation to the statistics of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and others involved in baseball’s steroid controversy, Selig said that he might.

    “Once you start tinkering, you can create more problems,” he said. “But I’m not dismissing it. I’m concerned. I’d like to get some more evidence.” ’

  12. lar said...

    And then there’s this:

    Here’s the full text from the baseball commissioner:

      “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I am saddened by the revelations concerning Alex Rodriguez’s use of performance-enhancing substances. While Alex deserves credit for publicly confronting the issue, there is no valid excuse for using such substances and those who use them have shamed the game.

      “What Alex did was wrong and he will have to live with the damage he has done to his name and reputation. His actions are also a reminder to everyone in baseball — under our current drug program, if you are caught using steroids and/or amphetamines, you will be punished.

      “Since 2005, every player who has tested positive for steroids has been suspended for as much as 50 games. Eradicating performance-enhancing substances from the game of baseball has been my first priority over the past decade and it is important to remember that these recent revelations relate to pre program activity.”

  13. Pete Toms said...

    @ lar – certainly this is far from a done deal and yes I agree, at this point Bud is testing the waters, so to speak…

  14. Jake said...

    Comparing absolute numbers across eras is absurd anyways.  Any reasonable system of measuring performance will come up with the Bambino as the all-time “home run king” even if he isn’t the guy who hit the most of them.

  15. Sara K said...

    @ David B – I don’t think anyone says that steroids and amphetamines are the same thing.  What I do think is that amphetamines allowed players to make more starts and play more innings in those starts than they might have otherwise, and since we can’t know which games they would have been given an off-day for or replaced in the 8th for or just plain been shagged out and a step slower for, we can’t know which hits they got because of the advantage given them by their greenies. We can say *some* though, can’t we? 

    And what is the point of having a home-run record that isn’t based on the number of homeruns the players hit?

  16. Warren said...

    “In the best interest of baseball”, Bowie Kuhn denied Charles Finley from totally dismantling his Oakland Athletics of the ‘70s. Bart Giamati and Faye Vincent, in their short terms, believed in this same premise. They weren’t owners’ commisioners, but loved the National Past-time, which would be baseball.

    Kennesaw Mountain Landis’ ego was bigger than his name and the game of baseball, when he cast out 8 players for life “who may have been associated with or may have know of those who may have been associated with known gamblers” and not reporting it. Rightly or wrongly, it made the statement: Raise the game of baseball to a higher standard.

    Bud, “let’s have a beer with the owners”, what will it do to our bottom line? Will it keep butts in our seat? What about our advertisers? If we look the other way will the advertisers look with us? Once an owner, always an owner.

    Commish, time to start earning your $17 million compensation (not a kid’s pay) and bring baseball from its “National Tarnish-time” back to it’s “National Past-time” status!

    True, the union has a strong presence, but it also has the duty to game, but from a different perspective! If the the game is gone… union, no owners! This is not the kids’ game we played for love and sweat and tears and smiles when we were growing up, but grown men (sorry ladies) get to play this child’s game and get paid very well for it! The innocense is lost!

    Baseball still has its Federal Anti-Trust Exemption. It was only the threat of its loss that caused action. No other sport has this exemption. Time for the Commish to work with the Union and whomever else they need to work with them, to raise the standard that would be baseball. I want my “National Past-time” back for me and my children and their children!

  17. Jimy said...

    We’ll never know who was clean and who cheated.

    At issue is this; we want a level playing field. So we can compare stats and players across generations.

    This is my solution. Of course, my solution requires Allan Bud Selig to grow a pair and make a statement.

    1) Force the Union to accept blood testing and any future testing that is needed to screen for illegal PEDs (like HGH). Suspend for life any player violating the MLB drug policy.

    2) Or, ignore any meaningful testing. Let players use any PED they want. Encourage it. Whatever.

    Either way, we can move forward. PEDs are either in the game or they are out.

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