In celebration of the coming 2011 season, I decided to add a few things to my to-do list for the month of February:

1) Read Ball Four by Jim Bouton

2) Watch all 10 innings of Baseball by Ken Burns

A few years back I watched Baseball, or at least the first five innings.  Not sure what happened but I never got around to the next four innings (up until this past year there were only nine total innings.)

Ball Four is a book that I seemed to ignore for as long as I can remember.  For a while my excuse for abstaining was its relevance to the present game.  I mean, how can a book exposing the “truth” of baseball during the 1969 season captivate a present day fan?

Well, if the first 100 pages are any indication, I will not only love the book, but quite possibly get an education into Baseball’s past and present.  It seems many of the problems plaguing the game then, still exist in one form or another now.

Anyhow, I will leave the book reviews to Cubbiedude and get to the real point of  today’s Chet’s Corner.

One can’t wander far in the baseball world without stumbling on a debate regarding PED’s or the comparison of players via HSA (Hyper Statistical Analysis….yah, I made it up).  God forbid we throw the Hall of Fame into the discussion as all hell will break loose.

As I read through the pages of Ball Four and absorb Bouton’s tales of woe at the Major League level,  I keep asking myself the same question:

What is worse; a player who staggers to the plate hungover or even drunk, a player who uses PED’s (these include greenies, HGH, Steroids) to enhance his ability, or a player who uses foreign substances to doctor a baseball or bat thus giving him an advantage?

The Hall is home to all of the above except the HGH/Steroid users, which it may actually have, we just have yet to get a current Hall of Fame player to admit it.

I wonder if some of the past inductees would get voted in by today’s writers armed with the knowledge that we now have. I wonder if Gaylord Perry and his famous spitball, which he admittedly lubed up with everything from lard to KY Jelly, would have been voted in by the same group of writer’s that appears to refuse Mark McGwire for steroid use?  If all “cheating” is equal then Perry is no Hall of Famer.

I wonder if the current writer’s would see Whitey Ford, who was nicknamed “Black and Decker” because he used an arsenal of tools on the mound to doctor the ball (including his wedding ring),   in the same light as say Rafael Palmiero and his steroid use?  If all “cheating”  is equal then Whitey is no Hall of Famer.

I wonder if players using amphetamines, or greenies as they were called back in Bouton’s days, would get the same black eye as the HGH users do in today’s game?  They should, right?  Both are drugs used to enhance your performance on the field!  Yet, the hall houses plaques with those who popped a little green pill in order to get that edge,  just ask Mike Schmidt (better yet, read his biography “Clearing the Bases”.)

How can any writer, without bias, vote in Schmidt, Ford, or Perry (or any of the other guilty subjects) without also giving a vote to today’s admitted HGH/Steroid users?

Better yet, how do you feel about players being massively hungover or just plain drunk and taking the field?  For my money, this is almost worse then steroids.  Yah, I have plopped myself down at my desk hungover on many occasion.  I have probably been a little too beat up to do my best work.  The difference……thousands of people aren’t forking over hundreds of dollars to watch me do my job.  I guess that’s the burden of playing a game for a living and getting paid well in the process.

That brings another question,  Are you more likely to cheer for a player who pops a pill that helps him perform, or would you cheer for the guy who lacks respect for the game and shows up hungover to his day of work at the ballpark in turn downgrading his level of play?

Maybe we should start over in regards to history.  Can you imagine pulling all of the plaques and re-voting back to the first Hall class with today’s crop of writers?  Oh, and by the way, don’t tell me today’s writer’s can’t possibly fathom the greatness of Babe Ruth or Robin Roberts.  They don’ need to actually see them play anymore.  We have a much more sophisticated way of analyzing players these days.  You don’t have to witness a player on the diamond to judge his level of play anymore, we can just calculate his WAR, or VORP, or is it WARP?!

*the above sentence or two is laced with a massive mound of sarcasm

After the HSA (remember, its Hyper Statistical Analysis) is completed we will dig up all the dirt on each player.  We will dig up anything dating back to when they played the game, from the locker room to the bedroom,  and take that into consideration before considering what they actually did on the diamond.  Let’s be real,  a players entry  into today’s hall is effected by his behavior off the field as well as on.

After all the information is compiled, and the votes of today’s writers are counted, I would be curious to see what we are left with in the temple of baseball.

I have a feeling it would be an empty boring place.


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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19