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Braun, Bonds & Baseball’s Red Ink

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 26, 2012

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Ryan Braun’s acceptance of an MVP award under the false pretense that he earned it sticks in my craw.  Further alarming is how he reversed his recent suspension on a technicality of the process.

Braun’s MVP travesty is the inspiration of this essay.

This is not directly about the above MVP chart, which shows that 9 out of the last 22 MVP awards were steroid-bogus.

This is about cheating.  And how to clarify an HOF measurement.  Here we go…..

Baseball already has Black Ink and Grey Ink.  These are Jamesian measurements of career player stats that reveal how talented a hitter was in the context of his own time —  against his playing peers.

Bill James defined both measurements in his book, The Politics of Glory.”

A player’s Black Ink score is found when taking the offensive category in which he led the league and multiplying it by a predetermined factor for that specific hitting category.  Leading the league in HR’s is worth 4 points.  Leading the league in runs scored is worth 3 points, etc..  Mantle led the AL in HR’s 4x and earned 16 Black Ink points.  He led it in runs scored 5x and earned another 15 for that.  Counting all categories, Mantle amassed a Black Ink score of 64. 

The point scale is tiered.  Four points for leading in HR’s, RBI or BA.  Three points for leading in runs scored, hits or slugging.  Two points for leading in doubles, BB, or stolen bases. One point for leading in games, at bats or triples.

Grey Ink’s computations are nearly identical to that of Black Ink.  There is one critical difference.  Grey Ink charts how many times you finish in your league’s Top 10 for a category, not how many times you lead the league.

Let’s focus on Black Ink.

The average Black Ink score for an HOF’er is 27.  Babe Ruth soars above the common HOF’er with a tally of 161.  Cobb is 150.  Hornsby 125.  Teddy Ballgame is 125.  Musial is at 116.  Wagner is 109.  Brouthers is at 79.  LaJoie and Aaron are at  76.  Rounding out the Top 10 Black Ink scores is Gehrig at 75.

Mike Schmidt is the #11 position-holder at 74.  Just south of the Iron Mike are the ignoble narcissists, Bonds and A-Rod.  Barry sits at 69.  Alex has 68.

The B.I. leader list looks clean after those two steroid users until you get down to Mark McGwire in 42nd place. Though not sniffing the rarified air of the Top 20, Big Mac still ranks ahead of Joe DiMaggio, Reggie Jackson and Frank Robinson.

As the man shouted when he came home suddenly to find his cat trying to mount his beagle, “That’s just not right, man !!

I’ll come back to that inequity in a bit.

The Top 10, with the exception of Brouthers, represents the all time elite of well rounded offensive players.  You can make the case that six of them are the greatest players of all time.

The Top 50 is impressive, studded with Yaz, Killebrew, Foxx, Mantle, Gwynn, Henderson, Ott, Greenberg, Brett, Boggs, Speaker and Crawford.

At 60 deep in Black Ink, you have 11 other non-HOF’ers who are banned, or are still active, or played too long ago, or miss by a smidge.  These include Pete Rose, Albert Pujols, Ross Barnes, Harry Stovey, Gavvy Cravat, Tony Oliva, Tip O’neil, Sherry Magee, Harry Davis, George Burns, and Dale Murphy.

Those 11 excluded individuals are not in the HOF for sound reasons.  That makes the B.I. list look better and better as a HOF litmus test.

Check out the all time list at www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/black_ink.shtml

The quality of the B.I. Top 60 is self-evident.  James was really onto something.  The measurement is useful.

But what to do about the cheaters ?  Let’s create a reduction factor called Red Ink that deducts B.I. points.  Red Ink would subtract points earned in those years after which the player displayed an acutely changed physique while delivering an sharply increased offensive performance — after 1985.  We can debate the starting point.  1985 is the year that Jose Canseco bulked up in the minors and started spreading the word.  I’m open to a discussion on that issue.

This is how Red Ink would affect Barry Bonds.  He bulked up in the offseason of 1998, after MM hit 70 chemically-aided dingers.  Big Head Barry subsequently led the NL 7x in BB’s, 1x in HR, 2x in batting, and 4x in Slugging.  That’s 38 Red Ink points.  Subtracting 38 from his current total of 69, and Barry’s revised net B.I. total is 31. 

31 points moves Barry well down to 60th place, just 4 points above the average B.I. score for a HOF’er.  Barry Bonds is just an average HOF’er.

There is justice in Bonds’ adjusted score.  It is widely believed that Barry had a HOF quality career before he hit the juice.  He’d had made it if he stayed clean.  Red Ink reveals his true place among the greats.

Do the same exercise with McGwire and he falls to a Black Ink score of 10. 

That’s right.

10.

The non-juiced Mark McGwire is not a HOF’er.  Period.  He’s a fraud.  Sorry A’s & Cards fans.

The list of MVP winners atop this essay shows the tainted MVP winners in Red Ink.  With the sincere-sounding-yet-still-guilty Ryan Braun the latest to cheat his way to an MVP award, we are reminded that wherever there is big money there will be cheating.   Many have cheated and lied before Braun and he isn’t likely to be the last.

Let’s start striking the numbers.  Strike the Red Ink MVP’s.  Strike their bogus Black Ink points.  Strike them from the HOF ballot, even Bonds, who would have made it on natural abilty. 

Let’s be ever vigilant in preventing cheaters to enter the hall or bask in the radiance of falsely earned hardware.

And that applies to David Ortiz as much as it does to A Rod, Yankee Fans.

Go Sox.

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Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL | Leave a Comment »

ROGER CLEMENS GOES DOWN !

Posted by athomeatfenway on February 15, 2008

It wasn’t easy watching the Congressional hearing yesterday. The man was a near lock for the HOF before he went to the needle.  The man struck out 20 in a game  — twice !  The Man won multiple Cy Youngs.  The Man was a hoss.   And now, the hoss is at a loss for a ticket to Cooperstown.  Permanently.

It wasn’t MacNamee who landed the telling blow, though.  It was Andy Pettitte and his wife.

The hearings resonated with prior scandals.  I couldn’t help but think that Brian MacNamee is to Roger Clemens, as Paul Janszen is to Pete Rose, and as Greg Anderson is to Bobby Bonds.  A self-centered star using an enabler to break the rules.   

There’s an ugly societal dymanic that allows the Superstar to bulldoze the rules while getting the benefit of the doubt.  We could be a bit more careful with our adoration, trying to focus it on the Phil Rizzutto’s, Dustin Pedroia’s, Gene Tenace’s, Jorge Posada’s  and Troy Tulowitzki’s of this world.  Give me a skinny player who can play over his head.  Or a slightly chubbed-out Tony Gwynn look-alike.  I’m starting to look sideways at anybody with an acutely mesomorphic build.  And we’ve got a few on my beloved Red Sox.

May Roger, Debbie and the four K’s accept the truth in short order, admit what has happened, and find peace in the support that will flow.  There’s really no point in being vindictive.

That said — I’m afraid that The Rocket has dishonored the game enough to be permanently barred from the HOF.

 I have complete faith that the BBWAA will never elect Roger.  I am somewhat old school in these matters; I want Clemens, Rose, Bonds & McGwire BARRED from the HOF.  But the BBWAA is way, way beyond old school.  The scribes have memories like elephants.  There’s no chance Roger gets in.

 It’s a sad day for Baseball.  But, we fans will move on and flourish.

I trust that Baeball has not been entirely depleted of its Good Guys.  I believe, as you may, that money has not corrupted every Player and Owner – but, surely has corrupted many.  I believe, as you may, that people that have been raised to have Integrity can earn the bucks and play legit and clean for the love of the game, honoring the life lessons, moved by the remarkable way that Baseball connects us, teaches us.   Folks like you who care about the game deeply are the very proof that Baseball will cleanse itself and survive.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, congress, RED SOX, roger clemens, steroids, Uncategorized, yankees | Leave a Comment »

Roger Clemens : time for action, Bud.

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 22, 2007

Dear Commissioner Selig,

You have established a proud legacy, though you don’t get much credit for it.  Your reign has seen the creation of 16 mind-blowing MLB ballparks.  You’ve overseen the expansion of the divisions & playoffs. Under your stewardship,  Baseball revenue has increased to $6 Billion per year.   You have continued development of Latin American players, the world wide promotion of the sport, reached record attendance of 78 Million, and an average team attendance of 2.6 million. 

Even  Pittsburgh drew 1.7 million, a gate that creates about $76 Million before even one beer commercial is aired.

The steroid era is not your fault, Mr. Commissioner.  Steroids are soley the Players’ fault.  Steroids were undertaken & spread throughout Baseball by the players.  And when the problem became too grand to ignore, the Union blocked progress with aggressive, able Lawyers.  And that has made all the difference in the world.

 So, what to do with Roger Clemens ?  Whatever you do, you need to do the same to all others like him.

1.  Complete the investigation on a player-by-player basis.  Make a determination of guilt or innocence, and the degree thereof.

2.  Banish players or dealers/trainers, strip awards, and censure on an individual basis.

3.  Remind Hall of Fame voters that Integrity, Sportsmanship & Character are election criteria that should guide their decisions on a level equal to Championships, Statistics & Records.

 4.  Advise Hall of Fame voters to block the election of men of low character, men whose cheating goes beyond gamesmanship.  Pay no mind to those who would allow a steriod cheat in because the Hall has already welcomed racists and others of low character.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

 5.  Earmark $30 Million ($1 Million per team) for the development of an effective HGH test and apply it, along with other drug tests, on a weekly, mandatory basis to all MLB players.

6.  Publicly request that the Union accept a clause in every contract that states use of Winstrol, HGH and all other banned or illegal performance enhancing chemicals will result in the forfeit of all salary and bonuses.   Play it in public, let Don Fehr and his brother’s be exposed for what they are.

Make them forfeit the MONEY.  That will stop steroid in its tracks.  Money has been the reason the steroid train jumped the tracks to begin with.

Again –  Make them forfeit the MONEY.   The MONEY is their GOD.  Think Roger may have been motivated by the $150 Mill he has earned since allegedly starting to juice ?

Roger could be innocent, there’s a slim chance of that.  So, give him the benefit of the doubt along with a full investigation.  Make the determination, then banish, strip awards, and censure on an individual basis to the degree warranted.

Baseball may have fallen down again.  But it will get up and it will walk straight again if you take action, Commissioner.   And that will be some legacy to leave.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, Bud Selig, Commissioner, RED SOX, roger clemens, steroids | 7 Comments »

BARRY BONDS: SKIP THE TRIP TO COOPERSTOWN

Posted by athomeatfenway on November 2, 2007

Barry says he won’t come to Cooperstown.  Are you OK with that ?  I am.  But why do so many of us think  that Bonds should be excluded from the Hall despite the transgressions of those already in the Hall ? Babe Ruth was an unreliable,  game-skipping, drinking, smoking, fornicating machine of a man so self-centered & immature he couldn’t remember anyone’s name & thus called everyone “Keed”.   And he’s in.   Ty Cobb was an antisocial, bitter, racist, violent character who went into the stands at the Polo Grounds and beat senseless a cripple he suspected had called him a racial epithet, a nasty name that Ty himself used everyday for others.  And he’s in.   Ban Johnson & JG Taylor Spink conducted their businesses, the American League and The Sporting News respectively, for decades with shamelessly racist and biased designs to keep African Americans out of Baseball until 1947.  And they are in. The Hall of Fame isn’t Disneyland or Kindergarten.  It’s somewhat like a Revival Tent complete with sinners.  So why draw the line at Steroids  ?   Why pick on him ? Sure he chemically altered his body to produce 762 Home Runs instead of about 550.   There is no debate about that once you read GAME OF SHADOWS.   So what if he won’t talk to the media ?  So what if he disassociates himself from his team mates and has a private locker room with throne-like chair ?  Who cares ?  He’s a baseball player.  We don’t have to take him fishing.  He’s not coming over to grill and play jarts.  He’s not getting a Christmas card this year.  And frankly, HE DOESN’T CARE.  He has more money than he’ll ever need.  He has a knack, like Pete Rose, of maintaining an orbit of followers and enablers.   So let’s be at peace with that and move on to the issue at hand:   Keep out anyone who could go in based solely or largely on the abuse of records through the use of steroids.  KEEP BARRY BONDS OUT OF THE HALL OF FAME.  And that’s not all.  KEEP MARK McGWIRE OUT, TOO. Baseball’s long ago track record is indefensible but 50 wrongs do not make a right.  Let’s do the right thing as often as we can going forward and honor the game and it’s fans, the crown jewels of Baseball, the people who come together to enjoy the game & its  history, and the community of Baseball.   Barry has threatened to boycott his assumed induction if the record-breaking ball is now displayed at the Hall with an asterisk.  That is Barry’s right.   Let’s respect his rights.  He’s entitled.  Let’s go further.  Let’s resolve to forgive and support Barry when inevitably the hammer finally falls on him.   His drug dealer is still in jail for refusing to testify to a California Grand Jury.  He has income tax problems.  He will never be inducted into the Hall of Fame.   A career 550 HR hitting, 100-RBI, .320 hitter is going to be barred from the Hall of Fame because he cheated in order to become a 762 HR hitting physical oddity.  He has to live with the legacy of being one of the most disliked & disrespected baseball heroes of all time, right alongside Ty Cobb, for whom there is no legacy of justice and peace.  Leave Barry Bonds alone.  And leave him out of the Hall of Fame.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, Uncategorized | 2 Comments »