Monday, MLB.com published the Hall of Fame ballots of its 17 voters. I'm not going to parse all of those ballots, because it's just the same old thing. If you saw last year's results, you know this year's. Just think more Atlanta Braves starters and you've got it.
But there is one ballot ...
KEN GURNICK, Dodgers beat reporter
Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Players votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them.
There are two problems so obvious with Gurnick's "reasoning" that one might reasonably question his powers of logic.
For one thing, any "period of PED use" began in the 1960s, at the latest. We know players were using amphetamines as performance-enhancers in the 1960s, and we know amphetamine use was rampant in the 1970s and beyond. There are a lot of things we don't know. We don't know exactly how many players were on speed, and we don't know how useful greenies were. But we know they were illegal in the '70s, and we know that players used them for the exact same reason they used steroids later on: to play baseball better.
But let us be charitable, and assume that Gurnick meant to write "period of widespread steroids use" ... By all accounts, that period began in the late 1980s.
Eight years ago, Buster Olney wrote an outstanding column in The New York Times about Baseball's general lack of response to rumors about steroids. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. It's short, and it's great. My favorite part is where Commissioner Bud seems to be lying or ridiculously ignorant. But here's the part that Ken Gurnick might want to go back and read:
For years — beginning in 1989, in fact — I had heard executives, scouts and players speculate about steroid use. In the same way we chatted about a pitcher's control or a fielder's range, we talked about which players might be using steroids. I talked with colleagues about ways of reporting the story, but always it came back to this: No smoking gun. No specific link. No story.
Beginning in 1989.
Jack Morris pitched through 1994. Without the 77 victories Morris racked up from 1989 through 1994, we wouldn't even be talking about him. For that matter, we wouldn't be talking about him if he hadn't pitched that 10-inning shutout in the 1991 World Series. Is it unreasonable to suspect that at least a few of Morris's teammates in 1991 had at least dabbled in steroids? Or what about the next year, when Morris went 21-6 with the World Series-winning Blue Jays? Is it unreasonable to suspect that a few Jays were doing a bit of better living through chemistry?
Look, I'm a charitable sort of fellow. I'll rewrite Gurnick's explanation for him:
Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for winning a lot of games and pitching one really big game, even though I know the rules say you're not supposed to elect a guy because of one really big game. As for those who played most of their careers while I was actually sort of paying attention to steroids, I won't vote for any of them. Or Alan Trammell, because I just don't understand that he was a great player.
Hey, there's always next year. It's never too late for enlightenment. Or at the very least, accuracy.