Harold Friend, senior writer for Bleacher Report, gave us a little moralistic parable this morning in his article titled, “Clemens, Bonds, Rodriguez and the HOF: How to Test Your Real Position.”
The gist is this, if you put $100 on the line (to win $1000) in a BBW or Strat-o-Matic computer simulation using an all-star roster of players from 2000-2007, would you or would you not include “cheaters”?
Of course you would, regardless of your position on steroids and whether or not these players should be in the Hall of Fame, he posits.
There are problems with his analogy, obviously. Friend says: “Don’t give the duplicitous response that there is a difference between a computer simulation team and the Hall of Fame.”
What he’s really saying is, “don’t tell me this is a stupid analogy,” but he’s wrong about that. It is a stupid analogy.
[For the record, I don’t care about steroids. Don’t care whatsoever who used them or who didn’t.
Barry Bonds is the greatest hitter who ever lived, and I feel honored to have seen him play in person in his prime many times. That he was using steroids when he accomplished some of his greatest feats means absolutely nothing to me. I saw him hit a baseball farther than I thought it possible to hit a baseball and with fluidity and ease and grace like a dream. That was a privilege to watch. I don’t care how it was done, it was done and – though he certainly wasn’t the only one to use so-called Performance Enhancing Drugs – he was the only one to ever have a career like his. To me, he was astounding, a comet among stars.]
But I digress. The analogy is stupid because winning that league gets you personally $1000 and offers no personal glory to Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens or whoever else you call “a cheater.”
Now, what if you had a league where the entry fee was $100 and the winner got $1000, and nobody else in the league has any “dirty” players, and you can draft anyone you like, but – here’s the catch – any Hall of Fame eligible players on your roster automatically get into Cooperstown?
Now you have a money-where-your-mouth-is dilemma. Is that potential $1000 worth putting cheater-of-your-choice into the Hall of Fame?
You are practically guaranteed to win if you stock your roster with Bonds, A-Rod, Clemens, Manny, Palmeiro, McGwire in a league where nobody else has any steroid-stars. But if your win and your prize money guarantees those players a spot in the Hall of Fame, would you do it then?
In the end, this is a pointless and ridiculous exercise. I am a little embarrassed that I wrote about it at all. But this kind of railing against the “juicers” gets under my skin. Baseball is beautiful. I don’t care who is playing it; little kids or mutant cyborgs. A double-play is a double-play, a home run is a home run, and I celebrate them all.