Thursday, February 12, 2009

A-Rod story winners and losers

The obvious big winner in the A-Rod story is Michael Phelps, whose story got swept right off the front pages. But longer term, I think Jr. may end up being the big winner.

There has never been a unanimous hall of fame vote. 20 some lame brain writers failed to include Ricky Henderson on their ballot this year. Whatever you think of Ricky, he's the all-time leader in runs scored. Isn't that how you win? By scoring runs? Anyway, some years back there was some speculation that Nolan Ryan might be unanimous, but 5 (I think) voters left the Express off their ballots, including, famously, Bill Conlan of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Just as steroid backlash has already colored the voting (see previous posts on Mark McGwire) it certainly will continue to do so into the future. But if tainted guys lose votes, wouldn't it be logical to assume that clean guys will garner more votes? Jr. made the all-century team and is fifth all-time in home runs. I guess there is no way to know for sure, but the CW on Jr. is that he's always been clean. Plus there is just as much anecdotal evidence of his cleanness (injuries, steep drop in production in his thirty's, etc.) as there is anecdotal evidence of other players being dirty (cartoonish physiques, large heads). Without researching it, most of the guys that would come up for election before Jr. either have no shot at being unanimous (guys like Piazza) or are steroid tainted like Bonds and Clemens.

So what writer wouldn't think of Jr. as a hall of famer based solely on his stats? If you throw in that he did it cleanly in the heart of the steroid era, he might be the first unanimous hall of famer.

I'm not too tied-in to the New York sports scene, but it seems like Jeter is also a "winner" to the extent that A-Rod has been trying to compete with the captain since coming to NYC. But it may have been such a no-contest anyway, that this won't change things much.

As far as the losers (besides the obvious), you have to put the union right at the top. This story has emphasized that the union was more interested in winning against the owners than protecting its membership. Ownership in baseball was so bad for so long (see the reserve clause) that when the players finally did unionize and get some legal rights the pendulum swung so far to their side that the owners were powerless against it. The union went too far in trying to maintain that power and now is looking at a serious mutiny with guys like Roy Oswalt and Kevin Youkilis calling for the public release of the other 103 positive testers. Couple this story with the beating the players are taking this off-season in free-agency, and the landscape has change dramatically. Let's hope the owners use their new power wisely rather than using it to try and crush the union. As Mr. Miyagi would say, we need balance.

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