Of the 37 guys whose names were on the ballot for the Hall of Fame this year, none of them got voted in. None. The last time this happened was in 1996, 17 years ago. In order to be voted into the Hall of Fame, you need to receive votes from 75% of the voters (members of the Baseball Writers Association of America – locals Andrew Baggarly and Ray Ratto both got to vote). On this ballot were the names of 3 players who had outstanding careers that were tainted by steroid use. Of those three, Roger Clemens received 37.6%, Barry Bonds received 36.2%, and Sammy Sosa received 12.5%. You think someone was trying to send a message about steroid use? I’ve gone back and forth on the issue of whether or not these guys should be in the Hall of Fame (never really thought about it much before this year, though). Listening to KNBR, I’ve heard very valid arguments from both sides. The one thing that really bothers me is hearing that voters are not voting for the steroid users on their first ballot, but they will eventually vote them in. I find this ridiculous. If you’re voting according to Rule #5, “ Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played,” your vote should be the same for someone whether it’s their first year on the ballot or their 10th. And based on that rule, in my opinion, the three steroid users should never be voted into the Hall of Fame. I see the word “integrity and sportsmanship” in that rule, and taking banned substances to enhance their performance shows lack of either. Granted, there are lots of cheaters and racists and criminals and not-so-great people in the Hall already, but the current voters are supposed to follow the guidelines given them. Even if those three end up getting into the Hall eventually, it will be with the footnote that their career was tarnished. When I think about the whole thing, it just gives me a stomach ache and makes a visit to the Hall of Fame in my lifetime less enticing.
Speaking of steroids, the day after the Hall of Fame results came out, Commissioner Bud Selig announced that there will be increased random testing for Human Growth Hormone (HGH) throughout the season (it had previously only been tested during Spring Training, the off-season, or when there was reasonable cause) and increased testing for abnormal levels of testosterone. FYI – HGH and testosterone can be used to increase muscle mass and help recovery. Everyone will be tested at least once during the season. This drug policy change has even drawn notice from the nation’s capital: Representative Henry Waxman (who led past House hearings on steroid use in baseball) said, “Baseball can rightly boast that it has the best testing program among our country’s professional sports leagues. Major League Baseball and the Players’ Union have moved a long way from the inadequate policies that were in place when Congress first addressed ballplayers’ use of steroids.” There will always be some new drug out there that is in use that can’t be detected, but at least this is a step in the right direction and shows that baseball is willing to try to solve the problem of performance enhancing drugs.
Now that the nastiness is out of the way, let’s get on to better things, like signings. OK, they’re only minor league signings, but the pickings are slim right now!! The Giants signed second baseman Kensuke Tanaka to a minor league contract on January 9th. He was chosen to add depth to the infield, but I’m still wondering what is going on with Ryan Theriot. Then today the Giants signed right-handed relief pitcher Mason Tobin to a minor league deal, which includes an invitation to Spring Training. It will be interesting to watch him compete for a roster spot during Spring Training (just typing that makes me excited that baseball is almost back!!!).
Finally, since a significant part of this blog (and the reason I started it) deals with spitting, I wanted to share something that I discovered listening to KNBR (can you tell that my car radio dial is basically locked on that station??). They have ads for a coffee pouch that you can use instead of smokeless tobacco. It contains ground coffee and many of the ingredients in your average energy drink. The effects are those of an energy drink as well, which I would assume is similar to the effect of smokeless tobacco (though I’ve never smoked or chewed, so I’m not an expert at this). But the wonderful and amazing thing about this stuff is YOU DON’T HAVE TO SPIT!!! You can actually swallow the saliva that comes in contact with the pouch. This company was even started by two ex-baseball players. From their company’s website (Grinds – appropriately), I came across their explanation for why you have to spit when you use smokeless tobacco. They mention that you spit because your body is trying to get rid of the toxic substance in your mouth. See – even your body knows it’s toxic!! Listen to your body, guys!! Even our beloved Manager Bruce Bochy has admitted that the pouches have helped him get rid of his chewing tobacco habit once and for all. Now I hate energy drinks and think they are going to cause lots of serious health problems for our youth, but they’re much less evil than tobacco. And just think – these pouches could single handedly do away with all the spitting in baseball!! Alleluia!! The company has distributed free samples to minor and major league baseball teams (smart guys!), and since then the product’s popularity has been growing. I just want to grab those guys and give them a huge hug! Let’s keep our fingers crossed that these pouches make their way into every spitter’s mouth! Maybe I’ll take some samples with me to the next game just in case!!
Still waiting on news about Brian Wilson and Ryan Theriot. I’ll keep you posted. FanFest countdown: T-minus 29 Days! HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!! GO GIANTS!!