Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hall Of Shame

TigerBlog was all set to talk about how nobody was voted into the baseball Hall of Fame yesterday when the song "One Day More" from "Les Miserables" came on his iTunes.

TB has heard the song a billion times, and he was really only half paying attention to it this time when it dawned on him that Inspector Javert would never have joined the students prior to their uprising.

Why? Because Javert would have seen spying as illegal and therefore something he would never even remotely consider.

Javert wasn't a villain. He was someone who was too rigidly wed to his beliefs of right or wrong to understand that, as the Monkees so beautifully put, "today there is no black or white, only shades of gray."

To that end, Javert would have seen the uprising as illegal and would have worked with the Army to put it down. He never, though, would have resorted to becoming a spy. His pride wouldn't have allowed it. The same ethics that allowed him to imprison Jean Valjean for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread or allowed Fantine to die a horrific death wouldn't have allowed it.

He would never have been able to be a spy. Hey, look what he did when Valjean pointed out that Javert had been wrong about what he thought about him all those years. Think he ever would have been able to handle knowing that he was doing something that is blatantly against the rules?


Anyway, when "One Day More" ended and "Fire and Rain" by James Taylor came on, TB got back to thinking about the Hall of Fame voting. Would Javert have voted for Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds or Sammy Sosa? How about Mike Piazza?

After all, none of them have been convicted of anything. On the other hand, can you find one person out there who doesn't believe that they all took steroids? TB thinks that Javert would have voted them all in.

The problem that the baseball Hall of Fame has right now is that there aren't many people who have either admitted using steroids or have been caught doing it, but basically everyone's numbers are now being called into question.

As a result nobody gets voted in, either because there is widespread belief that they were cheating, or, in the case of Craig Biggio, they got 3,000 hits in Houston as opposed to New York or Chicago.

So now what?

Are voters supposed to say that if common knowledge suggests that a player took steroids then that player can never be in the Hall? Are they supposed to guess to the extent to which that player's career was enhanced and see if he would have been a Hall of Famer anyway (Bonds and Clemens certainly fit into this category)?

Are they supposed to ignore it all together? Should baseball say "hey, anyone is eligible and voters cannot take steroids into account?" Does baseball even have the right to say that?

At some point, somebody is going to have to come up with policies, because otherwise nobody will ever be voted in again.

TigerBlog has written this before:
TB understands that there is no bigger threat to the integrity of sports - not performance enhancing drugs, not paying players, not anything - than having athletes who are competing not to win but to influence point spreads.

This raises the question of should fans even care whether athletes are choosing to use PEDs in the first place?

The NCAA certainly does.

All Princeton athletes are required to sign a standard NCAA consent form that opens them up to random testing for performance enhancing drugs. This can be at any time, year-round. Every NCAA athlete must sign this form.

Also, teams that are competing at NCAA championship events are all subjected to random drug testing. TB has seen countless times where Princeton athletes have had to go immediately from competing to the locker room to the drug testing center. The rules are very clear about what is permitted and what isn't in terms of hydrating after games, and TB has sat there with Princeton athletes for a long time before they could produce a sample, especially after really intense lacrosse games on really hot days.

The penalties for failing a drug test are severe.

The athlete immediately loses one year of eligibility, which starts the moment the positive result is known and lasts one calendar year. The athlete cannot compete again he/she tests negative and applies for reinstatement; any second failed test results in a permanent ban.

It's not something to mess around with.

Maybe the lure for college athletes is different because the matter of millions and millions of dollars isn't at stake. Maybe college athletes don't look around their sport and say "everyone else is doing it."

Or maybe it's just that the NCAA isn't messing around.

Clearly the baseball writers aren't either.

And Inspector Javert? He never did.

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