Wednesday, January 09, 2013

We need my N4 standard

No one was elected on the current Baseball Writer's Association Hall of Fame ballot came out. With a dearth of steroids users and general thugs, the Atlanta Braves great, Dale Murphy, did not make the cut on his last year of ballot eligibility. Murphy was always a class act that gave so much back to the community for years (and continues to do so), whereas Bonds and some of those other bums can't be bothered to do any community service that is not ordered by the courts.

Considering poor Dale Murphy was cursed to always play on teams that were lousy, I can only imagine how great his numbers could have been had he gotten to play for a stretch of years on a team that was actually a contender for more than 1 month running. The poor guy languished with the Braves in the 80's when the Bravos were perennially in the cellar, and was traded away the year before the Braves got good. He then spent time in Philadelphia and was traded away the year before the Phillies got good, and then spent the final year with the hapless Colorado Rockies expansion team. I always felt for the guy because he was such a class act but never got many accolades.

I have always advocated that there should be a two-fold test for Baseball Hall of Fame eligibility. I call it the N4 standard: what did you do in baseball and what did you do for baseball out in the community? Obviously, if you don't produce on the field, you are disqualified. I would argue that if you don't do diddly with the money and fame baseball gives to you to make the world a better place, you shouldn't be in the Hall either.

I have always felt that this is the solution to players on the cusp of getting elected but have career stats that maybe aren't quite of the Hall of Fame caliber (particularly if you got blessed by playing with a bunch of crummy teams): if he gave back to the community and was a champ off the field, you put him in the Hall.

Likewise, I feel this is the solution to the steroids issue. If a player is tainted by steroids use, look to what he did off the field. Perhaps that makes up the difference one way or the other? Barry Bonds was a clubhouse fungus that chased away kids who wanted his autograph all the time. Mark McGuire created a foundation for abused kids and had the decency to plead the 5th (which was his right) when testifying before Congress instead of looking the Congressmen in the eye and lying to their faces (which several other players did).

Using the N4 standard, that makes those calls much easier. I believe doing good could offset the steroids usage issue, particularly if it is fairly clear a player used steroids but was never officially caught or tried for it. Perhaps the N4 standard might include actually coming clean on using steroids and admitting it straight up. That gives players who used steroids a second chance at the Hall of Fame, but also protects those who are suspected of using performance enhancing drugs but actually never did. The issue of the 'guilty until proven innocent' in Hall of Fame ballots is likewise troubling to me because I do believe that there were some clean players who honestly bulked up the old fashioned way by working out and were just incredibly gifted athletes in their own right. I think my N4 standard lets them off the hook as well, provided the likewise are held accountable for what they did off the field.

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