Thursday, January 10, 2013

A lot can change for Jon Heyman in 21 months

Turns out that I'm still pretty pissed off about what happened to Biggio and Bagwell yesterday. The street-corner preachers in the BBWAA that talk about preserving the integrity of the game, while they made a conscious decision to ignore it while it was happening (revisionist history if I've ever seen it), still raises my blood pressure.

Still, there's no better an example of revisionist history than our old pal Jon Heyman.

Take for example, his piece explaining his ballot from just a few days ago:

The more I thought about it, the more I didn't want to celebrate their careers. Not yet, anyway.
More to the point, I didn't want to reward the cheats...The steroid guys already hit more home runs, recorded more strikeouts, made more money and won more awards thanks to one thing: having less integrity than some or many of their clean competitors. 

Then, in splendid boiler-plate SportsWriter Style Guide, the one-sentence paragraph:
I am not about to add to their already crowded mantles. 


Because less than two years ago (April 2011), a time frame in which Barry Bonds had no plate appearances, Heyman had this to say about the home run leader:

(And this is the lede, just so you get the context in which the piece was written):
Barry Bonds doesn't belong in jail. He belongs in the Hall of Fame...

It's probably easier just to promise not to vote any steroid users into the Hall. But I am not ready to wipe out an entire era. I can't prove that a majority of baseball players used steroids in that era, but the evidence suggests that many of the best players did. Just look at the MVP winners who have been linked to PEDs or have admitted using: Ken Caminiti, Sammy Sosa, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez.

The Hall already inducted spitball pitcher Gaylord Perry without a stitch of uproar. Perry wrote the book (literally) on how to deface baseballs to get hitters out. A case can be made that Bonds' type of cheating is worse. But unlike Perry, I'd say he did it at a time when many were doing it, and he didn't start doing it until he already had a Hall of Fame career. I don't admire Bonds as anything other than a ballplayer. But that's what he was -- a ballplayer, probably the best I or many of us have ever seen.

I can totally understand the mental process of changing your mind. If the April 2011 article had been written in, say, 1999, I would understand how Heyman (and, presumably, other weak-minded, pandering voters) arrived at the conclusion he did when filling out his 2013 ballot. But Heyman had the same information in April 2011 as he did in December 2012. This is an incredible about-face in an effort to look like a moral compass. 

Heyman, April 2011:
I'm not here to sit in moral judgment of another human being.
Heyman, January 2013, referring to Clemens:

This isn't like his case where the lawyer gets to pick the 12 dummies who might fall for his courtroom BS. And even though Clemens' high-priced talkers somehow got him acquitted of perjury, that hardly erases the mountain of evidence that he's one of the greatest juicers in baseball history. 
Just pick a side, jacknut.