The speech Tony La Russa should have given
On Sunday, six men were inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Three players, pitcher Greg Maddux, pitcher Tom Glavine and first baseman Frank Thomas, were rightly enshrined.
All were easy selections for the voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America because all three had magic numbers, usually automatics when it comes to admittance into the HOF. Both pitchers had more than 300 wins for their careers and Thomas had more than 500 career homers.
The other three inductees, all via Veteran's Committee voters, were questionable, at best. Mostly because of the witch hunt for steroid use in baseball. Players suspected for its use have been, so far, barred from the honor by voting members.
Sure, managers Tony La Russa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox -- all inducted with Maddux, Glavine and Thomas -- didn't use the stuff personally. But it's hard to argue that they didn't benefit from players they managed who used the substances now banned by MLB.
It's the ultimate hypocrisy.
Hence, this is the speech La Russa should have given in front of the large crowd. This message to baseball fans would have been fitting and long overdue.
As a voting member of the BBWAA, I wish I would have heard this from La Russa's mouth.
"I shouldn't be standing here before you today.
After all, a manager is only as good as his players. And in my 33-year career as a manager, I would have never won 2,728 games, the third-most in MLB history, without many great players.
I would have never won six league championships and three World Series without them. That's just the facts.
Two of the greatest players I managed were Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, both with dirty hands in this steroid scandal. I won one of my three World Series championships, as well as several division championships and league pennants with the two dubbed, "The Bash Brothers" in Oakland and with McGwire in St. Louis.
Even reserves and role players on my "post-steroid era" championship teams in St. Louis, like left fielder Larry Bigby, were implicated in the Mitchell Report.
And yes, many believe that my clubhouse in Oakland was running wild with PEDs. I didn't say anything or balk at what was going on.
Instead, like the rest of baseball, I just ignored what was going on because MLB wasn't testing for steroid use. We were winning and fans came in droves.
Hence, players, in their minds, weren't breaking rules, doing anything against the game.
Plus, let me get this right. Teams like my A's and Cardinals and the Yankees and Red Sox get to keep all their championships. None of them are tainted, those trophies are proudly displayed by those teams.
MLB gets to keep all the money from the ticket sales and, to this point, hasn't offered fans any refunds for games in which there was steroid use.
Plus, the managers, like myself and Joe Torre, get to keep all the wins and titles they won with so-called tainted players.
And to make matters worse, all the stats that these PED players amassed all count in the record book. Go look for yourself. But they don't belong in the Hall of Fame?
Sorry, but this makes no sense. It's dumb.
We have to stop this nonsense and get it right. We have to be fair to everyone who participated in the Steroid Era.
Either we're all clean or all tainted, including MLB commissioner Bud Selig.
We must stop punishing Hall-worthy players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
What's done can't be undone.
And forget that nonsense I said on ESPN the other day about putting these players in the Hall with an *asterisk.
Either you're in the Hall or not.
Babe Ruth never played against black or Hispanic players. He has no asterisk next to his stats.
Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson pitched in an era where the height of the mound gave pitchers a clear advantage. They are both in the Hall asterisk-free.
The BBWAA has to get over it. The Steroid Era can't be ignored, treated as if it never happened. It did.
The BBWAA is kidding itself. The unwillingness to enshrine some of the greatest players we have witnessed will only hurt the Hall of Fame in the long run, make it ridiculous, irrelevant.
In reality, the writers and veteran voters are hurting the place they think they are protecting. If they were truly making a stance against the Steroid Era, I wouldn't have been enshrined today."
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