Would you make the Call?
Here is a quick trivia question for you: Not counting 2012 NL MVP runner-up Ryan Braun, which former player has the highest career batting average of any Milwaukee Brewer? Iíll give you one hint: he also made his debut on the Hall of Fame ballot this year.
Kudos if you guessed (or knew) that former Brewers/Rockies/Mariners/Padres/Twins/Diamondbacks infielder Jeff Cirillo holds the highest career batting average of any former Brewers player. Ryan Braun currently sits in the top spot with a career average of .312 in 3,477 at bats, while Cirillo finished with an average of .307 in 3,259 at bats. For the record, Paul Molitor is behind Cirillo with a career average in a Brewers uniform of .302 in 7,520 at bats.
The Baseball Hall of Fame's Class of 2013 will be announced Wed., Jan. 9 and Iím confident there arenít many people out there worried about whether Cirillo will gain entry. Iím not saying he doesnít belong; that is ultimately up to the Baseball Writers' Association of America. The bigger and more obvious question this year has to do with the players from what has become known as The Steroid Era.
For the first time voters have the option to select Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa for the entry into the Hall of Fame. There is something of a precedent, as the baseball writers have not elected former Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, who was seen with a bottle of Androstenedione in his locker during that magical summer of 1998. (In 1998 Androstenedione had already been banned by the NFL and its use viewed as cheating by many outside of MLB.)
I understand that, just like Lance Armstrong, none of these guys ever tested positive for a banned substance, but that doesnít mean much when extensive testing was not implemented until 2006, well after this group's peak years.
There is one difference too between McGwire and those other three: McGwire eventually channeled his inner Jose Conseco and confessed to his steroid use. Iím not sure if a confession would help or hurt with the voters, because if youíve ever taken the time to read the 2006 book "Game of Shadows" or if youíve ever taken the time to do a Google image search for Barry Bonds' head size, you realize a confession isnít quite necessary -- at least for Mr. Bonds.
We could go back and analyze the stats to find plenty of evidence that could certainly point to signs of steroid use, but thatís not how we do things at Peace & Glove. Anyone with a pulse who follows baseball even in the slightest know well the black clouds that follow Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens. Take a few minutes to peruse www.baseballsteroidsera.com to see all the info you need to decide for yourself. You will also see that it seems like almost anyone who put on a uniform in the '90s can find their name linked to someone on that website.
That may be a gross overstatement on my part, as I truly believe that a large majority of MLB players in the '90s played the game for the right reasons and with the right things being put into their bodies. I donít believe, however, that Bonds, Clemens or Sosa belong to that majority. I think they all cheated, but I also think they all belong in baseball's Hall of Fame. Iím not sure they belong there in an honorable way, but maybe in a special section showing what they did on the field, but also various things that show what they did OFF the field.
It will be interesting to see the results on Wednesday. If I had a vote I would cast it for Jeff Cirillo, a guy who played above his (insert personal religious belief here)-given talent and made a career out of it, rather than for one of those other guys. If the ballot was in your hand, how would you vote?