Danny Knobler won’t vote for Bagwell, but he won’t tell you why
There are players I’m not voting for this year because I strongly suspect they built their credentials by cheating. And I’ve decided, after much consternation, that I’m not going to vote for them.
Who are they? I can’t tell you.
You’ll guess some of them. Rafael Palmeiro failed a test. Mark McGwire admitted he used.
But with others, it’s just strong suspicion, or word of mouth. It’s nothing I can prove, and nothing I’d feel professionally comfortable writing in a story ... I’d love to debate them with you, because debate is what the Hall of Fame elections are about. But accusations without proof are not what our business should be about, and not what this country should be about.
Knobler goes on to say that just because he didn’t vote for someone doesn’t mean that he thinks that they took steroids. Just that some of them he didn’t vote for -- but he won’t tell you who -- fall under his suspicion. A suspicion the parameters of which he won’t define. I’m going to assume that he’s talking about Bert Blyleven. Or maybe Lenny Harris. They should probably consult their lawyers.
Seriously, though, I can’t decide if Knobler’s justification for not voting for Jeff Bagwell -- and really, who else is he talking about, given that he mentions McGwire and Palmiero by name elsewhere -- is better or worse than those guys who have said “I need more time to consider Bagwell ...” when there’s nothing reasonable to consider about his on-the-field case.
But whether it’s better or worse, I do know that it’s highly disingenuous. A Hall of Fame vote is a significant act. More significant than any given column some Internet columnist posts. The matter is so delicate that his speculation can’t be printed, yet it’s OK to cast a vote based on that speculation? A vote that will help define the player’s legacy and baseball history? OK, great.
Try this, Knobler: “I think it’s quite possible that Jeff Bagwell took steroids. I have no proof of it, but I think he did, and that’s enough for me to not give him my Hall of Fame vote.”
I don’t personally agree with that, but it’s not legally actionable. It’s an admission of a non-malicious, fact-free opinion, which we’re all entitled to have in this country, and which you’re trying to gussy up with your holier-than-though nameless non-speculation speculation. It at least has the benefit of being a much clearer statement of what you’re doing. Plus it could also turn out to be correct (I have no idea if Bagwell used steroids or not).
The best part: if you share that opinion with people and freely admit that you’re helping decide who is and who isn’t a Hall of Famer based on that kind of reasoning, more fans will at least realize how irrational our current system of electing Hall of Famers is. These writers don’t know anything better than you do and aren’t even willing to offer their informed opinions of the matter to you for your consumption.
At this point I’d almost be receptive to a fan vote. At least then we’d get a Hall of Fame someone likes.