Surprise! The writers got it right

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Surprise! The writers got it right

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com. Today he gives his take on the Hall of Fame voting.

When the Baseball Hall of Fame Ballots were distributed last month, for the first time ever, the names Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens had check boxes next to them. Finally, after about a decade of hypothetical sports talk posturing, hyperbole and speculation, the Baseball Writers Association of America was forced to look the Steroid Era of baseball square in the eyes and make a decision: Will the continued hysteria around PEDs keep two of the generations most iconic players out of the Hall of Fame? Or will the BBWAA continue the Three Blind Mice routine they perfected as they traded accountability for access while covering these players?

Today the inductees were made public and the results were straight from Brewsters Millions: None of the above, which is more than appropriate considering Monty Brewster could have pitched for the Yankees instead of renting them to play the Hackensack Bulls if he spent some of that 30 million inheritance on Deca and HGH.

Personally, Im just stunned because I think these self-important windbags accidentally got it right. They kept the steroid cheats out of the Hall.

Ill freely admit that when the ballots were distributed I wasnt holding out much hope. These sanctimonious keyboard debutants cant agree on the value of defense, postseason play, sabermetrics, or the impact of longevity as they relate to Hall of Fame voting, so what would make anyone think that there would be some hard and fast consistent guidelines regarding the steroid era?

Luckily for fans, most of the BBWAA chose to treat the steroid question just like any other stat or quantitative metric these self-important sorority sisters bandy about to enshrine players. It was put in to context randomly, politically and non-scientifcally, except in cases where its simply too enormous to ignore. As a result, Bonds, Clemens and Sosa will have to compete with Pete Rose for table space if they want to hold court in Cooperstown this year.

Ultimately the sanctity of the Hall of Fame was protected because the steroid era coming home to roost on Hall of Fame ballots simply gave the BBWAA another chance to do what they do best: Climb to their lofty perch on the moral high ground they used to triage out statistically worthy players like Dick Allen and Albert Belle and arbitrarily decide who should and shouldnt make it based on gut feeling alone. They all do it, even the best of them.

Take one of the greatest sports writers this country has ever seen, Bob Ryan.

In 2006 Ryan wrote a column about Belle that compared him favorably from a stats perspective to Jim Rice, Tony Perez and others, and then went on to make the argument that Belle's surly demeanor and aggressive behavior was so detrimental, it actually countered his numerical qualifications for the Hall of Fame. And that isnt even including the steroid speculation that should rightly accompany Belles career. Imagine if he liked fried chicken?!?

If Bob Ryan can go on record and exclude Albert Belle from enshrinement simply because he was a superhumanly truculent jerk in the clubhouse, then suspicion of PED use alone is more than enough to keep someone like Jeff Bagwell, who is only tangentially linked to PEDs, from the Hall. To me, Bagwell looked like a steroid guy, used Andro, trained like a body builder and was buddies with Ken Cammenitti. Is that enough prove that hes guilty of PED use? Nope. Is it enough for me to suspect that hes a sauced-up Dale Murphy, minus one MVP and four Gold Gloves? Yup. No Hall for you, Beefy.

I hope that BBWAA members now realize that no due process whatsoever is owed to these players in regards to steroids. Nobody is trying to change history and pull off the Back to the Future revisionist crusade in a uniformly dirty sport that the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency unleashed against Lance Armstrong. The results of baseball games, championships and records are and should be untouchable. All that is in play with Hall Of Fame voting is a players qualifications for a significant post career superlative.

So please, Knights of the Press Pass, continue to make the players wait. If Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven and Jack Morris can languish on the ballot for years as the BBWAA debate their statistical qualifications, then a steroid era player can cool his heels in Cooperstowns greenroom as we wait and see if Brian McNamee has any more vintage soda cans in his possession. If Bob Costas and Mike Lupica want to routinely act like sports journalisms version of Moses, reminding the masses of their commandments, then the very least the BBWAA can do is keep Bonds, Clemens and Sosa in Hall of Fame purgatory for the full fifteen years.

You say this isnt fair? I say too bad. Baseball players and their union had multiple chances to adopt testing and instead they chose to protect cheaters who profited financially from using an illegal substance until congress forced their hand. Quite frankly, they are lucky that they only judgment they are being subjected to is a glorified popularity vote, so spare me your misplaced outrage.

By fighting testing at every opportunity, the players and their union surrendered the right of final judgment to people that cant agree on things like Edgar Martinez being in Hall of Fame because hes a DH or that a Pitcher shouldnt win an MVP because they dont play every day. They should be neither shocked nor dismayed that a players confirmed or suspected steroid use is debated with the same levels of non-uniformity?

Today, an era of baseball players that escaped judgment at the hands of anti-doping science, law enforcement and the MLBs Commissioners office is now being held accountable by a power they can never hope to defeat: the comedic inconsistency and indomitable self-righteousness of the BBWAA.

Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

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Brian Johnson: 'Awesome feeling' after five-hitter vs. Mariners

BOSTON - Brian Johnson had quite a turnaround in his second time on Fenway Park's mound.

Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

The 26-year-old left-hander became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

"The last time I walked off the mound here was 2012 and I made two pitches," Johnson said. "Today I went nine innings. Today was pretty cool."

Johnson left Triple-A for a little over a month last season to get treatment for an anxiety issue.

"Obviously with some stuff that I've been gone through in my career, it's an awesome feeling" he said.

But despite the stellar outing, Johnson was optioned back to Triple-A after the game.

"That's the reality of the game," Red Sox manager John Farrell said. "We had a chance to congratulate him and yet option him back to Pawtucket, with David Price coming here Monday."

Brought up from the minors for the start, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. His only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

"Their guy threw the ball over the plate. He threw strikes," Mariners manager Scott Servais said. "I won't take anything away from what he did, but we're not swinging the bat very well."

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

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Johnson beats Mariners 6-0 for Red Sox' 6th straight win

BOSTON - Brian Johnson pitched a five-hitter in his first big league appearance at Fenway Park, and the Boston Red Sox stretched their winning streak to a season-high six games with a 6-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

Brought up from Triple-A Pawtucket, Johnson (2-0) gave up five singles, struck out eight and walked none. The 26-year-old left-hander's only previous big league starts were at Houston on July 21, 2015, and at Toronto on April 18 this year.

Johnson became the first Red Sox pitcher to throw a shutout in his first Fenway start since Pedro Martinez on April 11, 1998. In Johnson's first start in Fenway - his fourth as a professional - he sustained a season-ending facial fracture when he hit by a line drive while pitching for Class A Lowell in 2012.

Johnson was helped by a semi-leaping catch by center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. at the wall in the sixth, Bradley's diving grab of Nelson Cruz's sinking liner in the ninth and Bradley's game-ending running catch of Kyle Seager's drive.

Xander Bogaerts' RBI single triggered a three-run first inning and Bradley hit a two-run homer in the sixth

Shut out for the second straight day, Seattle has lost seven of eight.

Rob Whalen (0-1) gave up five runs and seven hits over 5 1/3 innings in his Mariners' debut, his first big league start since Aug. 23 for Atlanta. He is Seattle's 12th starting pitcher, the most in the major leagues.

Andrew Benintendi and Sandy Leon also had RBI singles in the first, when the Red Sox had two batters hit by pitches, two walks and two runners thrown out on the bases - Dustin Pedroia at third for the first out and Hanley Ramirez at the plate for the last.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Mariners: RHPs Hisashi Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez, both on the DL with right shoulder inflammation, threw bullpen sessions. Hernandez said he "felt really good."... LHP James Paxton (strained forearm) is set to come off the DL and pitch at home Wednesday.

Red Sox: Pedroia was back at second base after getting Friday off to rest his sore left knee and not play on a wet field. He was hit by a pitch on the right forearm his first time up and went 1 for 3. ... 3B Pablo Sandoval, on the DL with a sprained right knee, was expected to play nine innings Saturday night in a rehab assignment with Triple-A Pawtucket. Manager John Farrell didn't rule out that he could be activated next week.

UP NEXT

Mariners: RHP Christian Bergman (1-2, 6.30 ERA) gave up 10 runs and 14 hits over four innings in a 10-1 loss Tuesday at Washington.

Red Sox: RHP Rick Porcello (3-4, 4.35) has gone at least six innings in eight of nine starts.