Alomar, Bagwell, and HOF Hypocrisy
In case you didn’t hear, Bert Blyleven and Roberto Alomar were voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, while Jeff Bagwell — among others — was not.
Cast Blyleven aside for a moment, and let’s focus on Alomar.
Personally, I was ambivalent about Roberto Alomar until he spit in the face of John Hirschbeck. Then, I despised him for disrespecting Hirschbeck, baseball fans, and the game itself.
Despite this, I still was able to appreciate the fact that Alomar was — hands down — the best fielding second baseman in MLB during the 1990s and first two years of the 21st century. And for that reason alone, he, to me, deserves consideration for the Hall of Fame.
However, there is the little matter of the “Steroids Era”, in which Alomar participated. Further to the point, there were many BBWAA voters who chose not to cast a vote for Jeff Bagwell because they suspected that he might have been a PEDs user — but DID vote for Alomar. What’s the problem with this? It’s hypocrisy; how could a writer not vote for Bagwell because of PEDs suspicion but DO vote for Alomar, who played during the same period of time?
Let me set one thing straight: I’m on the fence as to whether Bagwell is HOF material, mainly because he played during an offensive dominant time but also because of the PEDs cloud that hangs over everyone during his era. But what I don’t get is how a writer could specifically prevent casting a vote for Bagwell while also voting for Alomar. Is it because Bagwell had a musclebound physique and Alomar didn’t? If so, that is ridiculous; many people can be on steroids and/or HGH and not look like a gorilla. Don’t believe it? Consider the first MLBer who was suspended for PEDs use: 5’8″, 155-lb speedster Alex Sanchez. You don’t have to look like a professional wrestler to be a user. Steroids and/or HGH can provide “wiry” strength, increase bat speed, enhance vision, and improve endurance — without making a person look like Hulk Hogan. So for all we know, Roberto Alomar could have dabbled in illegal performance enhancers; he did, after all, go from a single-digit homerun outputs to 20+ practically overnight — and on the same Baltimore Orioles 1996 team that included Brady Anderson. For those who forgot, Anderson hit 50 homers in ’96, at the age of 32, after averaging about 8 HR a year previously. That outburst by Anderson is seen by many as questionable; why isn’t Alomar’s sudden increase to 22 HRs? (By the way, that same team also included Rafael Palmeiro.)
If a writer didn’t vote for Bagwell because they simply don’t believe he is HOF material, fine. But anyone who believes Bagwell did put up the numbers deserving of the Hall of Fame, and didn’t vote for him because they suspect he might have used PEDs, and DID vote for Roberto Alomar, is exhibiting gross hypocrisy and a dangerously unfair level of judgment.