Again, many apologies for the lack of updates over the past week. Between everyone's travel schedule and The Constable's pneumonia, it's been hard to find time to update. So let's do a big ol' Bagwell reaction update.
"I never used [steroids], and I'll tell you exactly why: If I could hit between 30 and 40 home runs every year and drive in 120 runs, why did I need to do anything else? I was pretty happy with what I was doing, and that's the God's honest truth. All of a sudden guys were starting to hit 60 or 70 home runs and people were like, 'Dude, if you took [PEDs], you could do it too.' And I was like, 'I'm good where I'm at. I just want to do what I can do.'
"I wasn't trying to do anything crazy. I hit six homers in the minor leagues. Six home runs. I hit 15, 18 and 21 in Houston, and then I hit 39 in 1994 when I started working with Rudy Jaramillo and he helped me to understand my swing and I actually learned how to hit. And I was like, 'I don't need anything more. I'm good.' When I walked on the field I thought I was the best player on the field, and I didn't need anything more than that. It was never an ego thing with me, and I think at some point, it became ego to some people...
..."I'm so sick and tired of all the steroids crap, it's messed up my whole thinking on the subject. I hate to even use this word, but it's become almost like a 'buzz kill' for me. So much has gone on in the last eight or nine years, it's kind of taken some of the valor off it for me. If I ever do get to the Hall of Fame and there are 40 guys sitting behind me thinking, 'He took steroids,' then it's not even worth it to me. I don't know if that sounds stupid. But it's how I feel in a nutshell."
Bagwell might have been a no-doubter for Hall induction if he had stayed healthy and tacked on two or three productive seasons at the end. But the relative brevity of his career and his 2,314 hits are likely to hurt his cause.
Still, for the voters who sift through the numbers and carefully measure his impact during 15 seasons in Houston, Bagwell merits a place in Cooperstown.
Bagwell, to me, looks like a first-ballot, slam-dunk, didn’t-have-to-think-twice Hall of Famer. His rare combination of power and speed (he’s the only first baseman to have a 30-homer, 30-stolen base season, and he did it twice) along with his solid defense (he won one Gold Glove, but was generally viewed year-in, year-out as a very good defender), along with his ability to get on base, along with his solid nature and spectacular peak makes him seem like the surest of sure things.
FanHouse's Dan Graziano:
No, I didn't vote for Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame. Yes, it's for the reason everybody loves to hate. I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don't have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I'm suspicious...
...This isn't about whether I believe what Bagwell says. It's about suspicions I harbored long before he spoke out on the issue. It's about where he played and when he played and the teammates with whom he played and a whole bunch of circumstantial evidence that I readily admit wouldn't hold up in a court of law.
But this isn't a court of law. This is a Hall of Fame vote. I don't need proof beyond a reasonable doubt in order to cast a vote for any candidate in either direction. I could refuse to vote for someone because I didn't like him personally, though I think that would be wrong. I could refuse to vote for somebody based on racial or ethnic or religious grounds, though I think that would be despicable. I could withhold a vote because I don't want people in the Hall of Fame who have blue eyes, or owned cats, or ever played on a Texas team. It's my vote, and the only standards to which I am beholden are my own."
Perhaps, as dozens upon dozens of his teammates turned to steroids and HGH throughout the 1990s and early 2000s (Reality: No two teams in baseball had more PED connections than the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros), Bagwell looked the other way and continued to pop his GNC-supplied Vitamin C tablets. Maybe, just maybe, that happened. But, as the game was being ruined in his very clubhouse, where was Bagwell’s voice of protest? Where was Jeff Bagwell, one of the best players in baseball, when someone inside the game needed to speak out and demand accountability? Answer: Like nearly all of his peers, he was nowhere. He never uttered a word, never lifted a finger (Now, once he retired, he was more than willing to defend himself and speak up for the sport. Once he was retired).
This, to me, is why we are allowed to suspect Jeff Bagwell and, if we so choose, not vote for him.
(Note, Pearlman has a variety of call-and-response posts here). And he's right. If you're going to disagree with somebody, have some class. Don't be a douche. That extends here, too. Feel free to disagree with anything you read here, but don't be a complete sack of dog nuts about it.
Now, some reponse to Mr. Graziano, Mr. Pearlman, Mr. Knobler, and any other writer to won't vote for Bagwell based on their suspicions:
Again, starting with Joe Posnanski because, well, he deserves it:
I can’t even begin to describe my disgust...it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach. This is PRECISELY what I was talking about when I said how much I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury. It’s something that my friend Bill James calls the “I see it in his eyes” tripe. Bill has finished a book on crime — it is, he says, actually about crime books as much as crime — and one thing he kept running into in his research was people who claimed that they could pinpoint the murderer because “it was in their eyes.” Well, as Bill says, that’s a whole lot of garbage. Eyes are eyes. Some people look guilty when they’re innocent, and some people look innocent when they’re guilty, and most people don’t look innocent OR guilty except when we want to see that something in their eyes. Oh, but we love to believe we know. It’s one of the flaws of humanity. And the Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players.
I think my e-migo Craig Calcaterra has made this point on Twitter, but I’d like to also make it as strongly as I can: I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out.
Amazin' Avenue's James Kannengeiser:
If you withhold voting Jeff Bagwell for the Hall of Fame solely on the chance that he used performance enhancing drugs, then you are a piece of sanctimonious dogsh*t. Seriously, you are. The time for civility has passed. If you are unwilling to afford another human being the basic "innocent until proven guilty" right because you are a holier-than-thou windbag, then you are human feces. Dan Graziano, this is you. I'm embarrassed to have graduated from the same university as you...
...Acting like these Hall of Fame voters should be treated as nice people who have earned their right to vote is a load of nonsense. This isn't about sabermetrics vs. wins and RBIZZZ. It's about treating other human beings with some f*cking respect. The intelligent cases have been presented before all of these voters time and time again. If you don't vote for Bagwell, or someone similar, because you think he might have useds PEDs (but have no proof!) you are human garbage. Flat out. That's all I have to say about that.
There is simply no way to sum it up any better than that.