My current Hall votes on Steroid Era stars and more (cont.)
Rafael Palmeiro: He made Jose Canseco look good by failing a drug test weeks after wagging his finger at Congress. He failed for Stanozolol, the hard stuff. A fine singles hitter when he started as a Cub, he became an incredibly consistent power man.
Gary Sheffield: His Hall case is borderline to start with, and in my estimation there are too many negatives, most prominently his BALCO connection. His stats don't show a big jump from steroid use, but if they helped a little, it's too much. While the federal government isn't pursuing a steroid case against him, there appears to be enough evidence that he took steroids. He just seems to have gotten away with it by shouting folks down and claiming that it was Bonds' fault. He also doesn't score any character points for throwing balls away on purpose while in Milwaukee, publicly complaining about teammates' salaries in Los Angeles or claiming Joe Torre was a racist in New York.
Mike Piazza: In terms of his credentials it isn't close; he's a clear Hall of Famer. But there has been a fair amount of suspicion raised in recent years, and Jeff Pearlman quotes Reggie Jefferson in his new book, The Rocket that Fell to Earth, as saying that everyone knows Piazza was a steroid man. I could guess on this, but I still think I'm going to need more proof.
Ivan Rodriguez: Like Palmeiro, he made Canseco's first book, Juiced. But Canseco's record isn't perfect, and Pudge has never been caught. It didn't look good when he shrunk to the point where the name "Pudge'' became a joke, but I am still going to need more.
Alex Rodriguez: He admitted to taking a steroid in the period he was with Texas from 2001 through '03 after Selena Roberts reported on SI.com that he failed the 2003 survey test. Roberts strongly suggested in her book A-Rod that he has taken steroids since he's been a Yankee. But I am going to need something more substantial than a continued association with Angel Presinal and other circumstantial evidence.
Manny Ramirez: The recent failed test is a problem. While he did pass about 15 other tests, you still have to wonder how long the doping went on. One thing in his favor is that he was great from the start and he never got huge. Maybe the toughest call of all.
I am willing to have my mind changed on any or all of the above players. A lot can happen between now and the arrival of the ballots. I know a lot of people will criticize some or all of my leanings, and that's OK. Some may even call me an idiot (a word that's been thrown around a lot about the "no'' voters in the Blyleven case). The Hall system is based on judgments to begin with. Now we have to make tougher calls.
Tweeting fool: I'm being nicked by Swisher
According to my Twitter numbers, I have passed 700 "updates,'' which is another way of saying Tweets. Here are a couple of my Tweets from Sunday:
"The problem with the new Stadium isn't the wind tunnel to right field or the expense. It's the quiet. It's a pricey library."
"I love the Twinkies. Scrappy, heady bunch. Enough of that. What inning do they blow this one?''
I am getting closer to 2,500 followers (or about 120,000 behind MLB tweeting leader Nick Swisher, who, when I congratulated him for having 100,000 followers, responded, "That's 120, bro.'')
I will send a prize of little or no value (an old press pass or maybe an All-Star pin) to my 2,500th follower. If you'd like to follow, I'm at SI_JonHeyman.
Twin dummies: Gardenhire upset with two young players
After the Twins' Matt Tolbert popped out to catcher on a 2-0 pitch in the eighth inning of Minnesota's latest defeat to the Yankees (their 22nd in 25 games in the Bronx), manager Ron Gardenhire had a little chat with Tolbert. Gardenhire told Tolbert, "We need base runners, son.''
This discussion, according to Twins people, occurred right in front of Carlos Gomez. Yet, it didn't prevent Gomez from doing the very same thing two innings later. With a 2-0 count Gomez popped out to first base. This caused Gardenhire to throw his hands up. His Twins teams, feisty and scrappy as they are, are impossibly bad and unclutch in Yankee Stadium, both old and new.
The Twins are known for playing smart baseball. But they are young, and they aren't themselves when they play at Yankee Stadium. The problem, according to Gardenhire, is that he still is "trying to get them to understand the game of baseball.''
By day's end he was telling writers this wasn't going to happen again, and telling his third base coach, Scott Ullger, that they weren't going to leave it up to their young players anymore. Gardenhire was going to make the call from the bench. "From now on, we're just going to stick out a finger, whatever it takes'' to get them to take, Gardenhire said.
It's no coincidence that the Yankees beat them every time in New York. Gardenhire said, "When it got to 2-and-0 on [Hideki] Matsui, I would have bet my house he'd take.'' Matsui did take ball three in that bases-loaded situation, but struck out anyway two innings before Johnny Damon homered to give the Yankees a third straight walk-off win, 3-2.
Someone asked Gardenhire on his way out Sunday whether his team was coming back to Yankee Stadium this year, and Gardenhire answered, crisply, "No, thank God.''
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