Frank Robinson should not be in the Hall of Fame

I’m joking, of course. Robinson was a great player, and no matter how dumb a manager he was, his place in Cooperstown is deserved. But Robinson should really stop talking about Mark McGwire and steroids, lest people remember Robinson’s transgressions. Robinson says,

“Should I vote for Mark McGwire?” a visiting writer asked Robinson after the Moeller card show Friday night.
The 71-year-old Baseball Hall of Famer shook his head and firmly said, “No.”

Okay, so actually Robinson just said “no,” but I don’t get paid for this, so I’m not about to go change that lead-in to the quote now. Robinson goes on to point out that, “You don’t get better as you get older,” which is of course stupid — most players don’t, some do. As David Pinto points out, both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron hit over a quarter of their home runs after turning 35.
And how about Robinson’s illegal drug use? I’m not talking about steroids or cocaine, but amphetamines, or greenies. We know that practically every ballplayer in the 70s used greenies, so should Robinson be kept out of the Hall as well? He did hit more home runs per batted ball in the month of September over his career than he did in May or June, which are both warmer and when Robinson should have been tired. Could that count as evidence that Robinson was using greenies?
It’s ridiculous, of course, to blame a player for using an illegal substance if it was so widespread when he was playing. The Hall of Fame is about being a great player, not about being a great man. I don’t like steroids, but I’m not willing to go on a witch hunt for it. I like Buster Olney’s take best:

But is my speculation and anger over the impact of steroids enough to effectively wipe out a player’s career with my ballot? Is it fair to ignore Sosa’s accomplishments because of a guesstimate? And where do I draw the line on the guesstimating? By judging body types of players? That’s a slippery slope, as we have learned from the likes of Alex Sanchez. Do I eliminate anybody who performed well after his 35th birthday? Do I eliminate players who came back from major injuries?
And the only real difference between McGwire and many of his baseball superstar peers is that it was McGwire who got the subpoena for the March 17, 2005 congressional hearing, and they didn’t. Imagine if Superstar X, or Superstar Y, or Superstar Z had gotten that subpoena, instead of McGwire. Those guys would have been hemming and hawing and giving the same non-answers that McGwire and Sosa did.

If you have Insider, it’s really a great entry to read.

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One Response to Frank Robinson should not be in the Hall of Fame

  1. Rob Bonter says:

    Ruth hit over 1/4 of his career home runs after age 35 because he lost most of the first five years of his career offensive production to his being a pitcher – in the dead ball era.
    Aaron got a late career HR spike from the Braves transfer from Atlanta to Milwaukee, where his home run rate per 100 official AB’s jumped from 5.5 to 7.5. In fact, had the Braves remained in Milwaukee, Aaron would not have bettered Ruth’s career HR record, that is how much difference “The Launching Pad” made to his legend.

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