Quit the Arrieta accusations

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Arizona DiamondbacksIt has unfortunately become the “norm” for any breakout star in Major League Baseball to be accused of taking performance enhancing drugs. Whether the accusations are warranted or not, this has turned into a common trend in the MLB. The latest such instance involves Cubs pitcher, and reigning Cy Young winner, Jake Arrieta.

Arrieta is in the midst of one of the greatest stretches of starting pitching the game has ever seen. In fact, if he does not allow an earned run in his next start, he will break Bob Gibson’s MLB record for the lowest earned run average over a 20 game period. This season, Jake Arrieta has picked up right where he left off last season. He is 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA and has already thrown one no-hitter; his second no-hitter since last August.

In recent days, however, people have begun questioning if Arrieta has cheated his way to such dominance. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN even brought up this speculation on “First Take” with Skip Bayless Wednesday afternoon.

Not that I have any proof that Jake Arrieta is telling the truth when he denies these claims, but I firmly believe him when he says he has never taken a PED. Anyone who has knowledge of his workout routine or diets knows quite well that this guy takes care of his body and works to achieve his physical figure and baseball statistics.

It is sad that no great baseball player can be left alone without being accused of cheating his way to greatness. And the blame for this falls squarely on the shoulders of past and even present MLB stars who have aggressively denied ever using PED’s, only to later test positive for using them. Players like Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and Ryan Braun immediately come to mind as such players.

Jake Arrieta was one of the top pitching prospects in all of baseball while coming up through the Orioles’ farm system. He has always had good stuff and great potential, but only since joining the Cubs has he lived up to those expectations. People like Stephen A. Smith look at Arrieta’s lack of production with Baltimore and sudden dominance with the Cubs and automatically assume that this guy is cheating. My question is why?

Sure, the recent history of top baseball players being found guilty of using PED’s has created a culture of speculation in Major League Baseball. But do some thinking before jumping to conclusions.

Like I said, Arrieta was regarded as a top pitching prospect while coming up with Baltimore. He struggled in his first couple of years in the big leagues and was eventually demoted back to Triple A. Then he was dealt to the Cubs where he began working with new pitching coach Chris Bosio, who is one of the best in the game at what he does, and the success started. Arrieta has always had good stuff, but now he has finally figured out how to put it all together. It’s not as though he was some no name player with minimal potential who went from below average to dominant. The potential has always been there.

The bottom line here is that it is sad that no player can go from mediocre to great in baseball anymore without being questioned about the use of performance enhancing drugs. And the ones to blame are the guys that have been caught already, as well as the other players, coaches, and management that let guys like Sosa, McGwire, and Bonds get away with cheating for as long as they did.

Again, I have no way of knowing for sure whether or not Jake Arrieta or any other player is using PED’s, but to see professional sports journalists go on national TV and make accusations against a guy, with nothing to base them on other than statistics, makes me sick.

Arrieta has always had incredible stuff, but finally figured out how to use it all effectively once joining the Cubs. So let’s please stop this PED nonsense and just enjoy arguably the best stretch of starting pitching in the history of the game.

Pete Rose belongs in the Hall

130107_gq_trout_aOn Monday, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred decided to uphold Pete Rose’s banishment from Major League Baseball. Rose has been banned from the league since 1989 due to gambling on MLB games while still playing and managing. In recent years, the argument to reinstate Rose has gained steam, leading to Rose formally appealing his suspension to the new baseball commissioner.

Manfred cited Rose’s lack of effort to get away from gambling as one of the main reasons for upholding his ban. He currently still (legally) bets on games and lives in Las Vegas where he signs autographs for money to maintain an income.

Due to Manfred’s decision, Rose will remain on the active list of players banned from Major League Baseball, a list that the Baseball Hall of Fame also recognizes.

What some do not realize is that the Baseball Hall of Fame has a Board of Directors who can determine who is and is not eligible for the Hall of Fame regardless of a player’s affiliation with Major League Baseball. Therefore, the Board of Directors has the right to allow Rose eligibility for the Hall of Fame. However, in 1991 the Board voted to ban anyone on MLB’s permanently ineligible list from being allowed to appear on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. As long as Rose is banned from the Major Leagues, he will remain banned from the Hall of Fame barring a rule change.

While I am not about to defend Rose’s actions that led to his punishment, I will argue that he should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Here’s why.

We are currently seeing players such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and multiple others appear on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Some of these players, like Clemens, Palmerio, and McGwire have either admitted to or were caught using performance enhancing drugs, while the others remain suspect. These guys CHEATED to become better at baseball, but are still eligible for the Hall of Fame and continue to receive votes.

Pete Rose never took PED’s or cheated to become a better baseball player. He simply worked as hard as anyone and hustled as much as anyone to be the best player he could be. He finished his career as the all time hits leader in MLB history.

Betting on games that you play in or manage is wrong in every aspect and deserves severe punishment. However, when you look at the big picture and compare what Rose did to what guys like Clemens, Palmeiro and McGwire did, how can those guys remain eligible for Hall of Fame status and Rose cannot? They flat out cheated their way through baseball by using drugs that directly affected their performance on the field. Rose did not do anything close to that.

The Baseball Hall of Fame Board of Directors has the ability to give Pete Rose the chance to get voted into the HOF. It’s time that they allow baseball’s all time hits leader and one of the greatest players ever the chance to finally end up where he belongs simply for what he did on the field every game. As long as Pete Rose is left out of the Hall of Fame and PED users remain eligible for it, the Hall is not a legitimate club as far as I am concerned.

MLB Hall of Fame Voting

roids_bondsTomorrow, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) will announce this year’s inductees to the MLB Hall of Fame. Some notable names on the ballot for the first time this year include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Craig Biggio, among others. Some guys on the ballot like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Rafael Palmeiro are hoping to get elected after having already been on the ballot in years past. As you may have noticed, every player I just named except for Craig Biggio has been linked to steroid use at one time or another, and that is what makes this year’s HOF ballot so interesting.

sammy_sosa_before_afterHad they never been accused of using steroids, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, and Palmeiro would all be first-ballot hall of famers (Bagwell is a bit more questionable, and we will soon find out about Biggio). Bonds has the all-time home run record, Clemens has over 300 wins and is third all-time in strikeouts, Sosa has over 600 home runs, McGwire topped the 500 home run plateau, and Palmeiro has over 500 home runs and more than 3000 hits. For those who are unaware, 300 wins, 500 home runs, and/or 3000 hits used to be 3 of the unofficial requirements to get into the Hall of Fame. However, those players who have been linked to steroids and who have achieved those requirements are by no means assured of getting into the Hall of Fame, as evidenced by McGwire’s and Palmeiro’s history on the ballot.

mcgwire-before-afterToday I was listening to Tim Kurkjian talk about this year’s ballot. Kurkjian is a veteran baseball writer and gets to vote on who is elected to the HOF. He said today that he voted for Bonds and Clemens to get into the Hall of Fame, along with a handful of other guys that I have not mentioned. Needless to say, I was shocked. How could a baseball writer of his caliber and his and knowledge vote for guys who have been linked to steroid use? Also, how can he vote for Bonds and Clemens without voting for Sosa, McGwire, or Palmeiro? Like I said before, they all have Hall of Fame-worthy statistics, so why should only Bonds and Clemens get in? If you’re going to vote for 2 who “deserve” it, then you have to vote for all who have qualifying statistics. His reasoning for voting steroid-users into the HOF was that most players were using steroids during the ’90s and that these guys were the best among those players. He said that you have to look at the circumstances and judge a player based off of those. I couldn’t disagree more.

Cheating is cheating, period. No one should be allowed into the Hall of Fame who cheated in the game of baseball by using steroids or other PED’s. I don’t know how to make it anymore clear-cut than that. Regardless of their statistics, if they cheated, they don’t deserve the Hall of Fame. I realize that of the names I mentioned only Palmeiro and McGwire have been proven to use steroids, but I think most of us know that the others are guilty as well, which is something that no professional sports writers will ever publicly state.

Screen-shot-2012-09-10-at-8.53.34-PMOne last thing, and this if for Major League Baseball. How can these steroid guys be placed on the HOF ballot and the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, can’t be? (In fact, Rose is banned from baseball for the rest of his life for supposedly betting on games while he was still playing and managing.) Rose never cheated while playing. He never did anything to make himself better besides hard work. Yet he is ineligible to be placed in the Hall of Fame, and these cheaters are not. Just think about that one for a while.

I am really anxious to see what percentage of votes these guys are going to get tomorrow. It takes 75% to be put in the HOF, and I will bet that no one I mentioned (besides Biggio) will get more than 50%. I hope I’m right.