Echoes of the Hall of Shame or If the needle fits ...

In the entire history of athletic competition, there have been those who have exploited every advantage known to man, whether unfair, illegal, certainly unethical, or even accidental.

And our Yankees have been just as guilty.

Elston Howard allegedly used his shin-guard buckles to cut baseballs for Whitey (and others?) to help sharpen their breaking balls.

Graig Nettles allegedly broke a bat and out came three or more super balls from the hollowed out center of his bat!

WITHIN the rules, in an earlier article I mentioned how Bobby Richardson once purposely trapped an easy infield fly so that he could get a great base stealer out on the force at 2nd base. Smart play, actually!

REGGIE, in 1977, got a 3-0 green light against Milwaukee Brewers ace Mike Caldwell, then pretended to go into a snit, as if he got the red light! So, REGGIE took Caldwell's "room service" pitch and planted it over the left center wall at old County Stadium, a relative bandbox in its time. (That works once!)

Emery boards elsewhere, actual spitters, and of course, Gaylord Perry, testify further to these shenanigans.

East German Olympic athletes have been said to be "blood doping" (collecting one's own oxygenated blood and re-injecting it for endurance) since the late 1950s! And it is exactly what Lance Armstrong has also been accused of doing.

But if these dangerous steroids (used since around 1990) give all the advantage that we have come to believe they do, then the entire sport can be called into question (like the orchestrated dances of world wrestling competitors).

Jose Canseco came out and outed several of his fellow players, now verified satisfactorily.

Yeah, but in 1996, Sosa & McGwire saved baseball with their Home run derby, no? Maybe. But how did it look when Brady Anderson also belted 50 homers? (In five yrs, he hit 12,16,50,18,18 hrs. Did he suddenly decide he would be called out for suddenly bombing homers? Did he just click for one year? Who knows?

So EVERYONE comes under suspicion, yes, including the demigod K. Griffey Jr..

We know about Mac, Palmeiro, Sosa, A-Rod, Ramirez, and others. They had stats that defied logic ... until revelations were made.

We might want any or all of our favorite players to make it into the Hall, but this time, the sportswriters (whose gig the HoF primarily is), I think they got right. Maybe the disincentive of this kind of across the board banishment will serve to warn others who are not gilt edged locks to play fair. And Barry ... what in the HELL were you thinking?

(I see it this way. He watched two steroid bozos steal his thunder as MLBs best player. Then in 2000, when the writers chose teammate Jeff Kent .334 33 125 over him .306 49 109 (plus league lead in walks, slug, & OPS), he felt, "F this - I'll show them what I can do!". The result was .328 73 137 and ridiculous record slug, OPS, 411 TB, and a neck the size of Andre the Giant! And he apparently didn't stop there, not until his numbers were so skewed as to invite question! Live with it!

More deserving -

I would argue day & night that Jack Morris (who pitched in two of MLBs friendliest bandboxes - Tiger Stadium and Minnesota's homerdome) deserves enshrinement despite his relatively unsuperior ERA and WAR figures. He (like Derek Jeter) added an intangible bump to the champion teams for whom he played. He has just one last chance before fading out of the public consciousness. And next year, there will be a bumper crop of newly eligible pitchers, many of which are "locks". (By the way, NY sportswriters are already getting the same argument ready for when Moose is up for the HoF. His stats were posted in MLB's toughest division when he played there, etc., etc..

I am a Yankee fan, but not a Met hater. I have confidence that Mike Piazza got caught in the foul smell of the marquis players who were shunned and that he will make the HoF in 1-3 years.

The writers are debating the Houston guys because they (think?) these stats might have only existed with help from the needle.

It's now the new dilemma. Did they or didn't they (use)?

Hey, I have Mickey Mantle cards and a team signed baseball from 1962 Spring training - now I'm told the ball had several signatures that were done by the clubhouse manager! (Not all of them.) How many people unwittingly paid good money for Mickey Mantle signatures only to find out they were forgeries? My ball was a gift, costing 2.95 in 1962.

So in this year's balloting, the final score was SPORTS WRITERS 1 Users 0.

Maybe they should have the next owners meeting at the Arizona/California border where I-40 (aka old Rte 66) crosses the Colorado River. It's a town called Needles, California. How fitting!