In all their cleverness, the Baseball Writers Association of America attempted an end run around the steroid era last week when it announced the timeframe of eligibility on the Hall of Fame ballot would be shortened from 15 years to 10. But in its infinite stupidity, the BBWAA actually left the flank to its moral high ground exposed by inducting manager Tony La Russa into the Hall on the very same weekend.
If not for the success created by the juiced-up monsters anchoring his lineup in Oakland, La Russa would not have earned the credentials needed for Hall of Fame induction. And you cannot pretend the exploits of Mark McGwire are somehow invalid when it comes to McGwire’s own candidacy, but can count when it comes to La Russa reaching Cooperstown. It becomes intellectually dishonest to argue otherwise, which is frankly no worse than the dishonesty shown by steroid users and those who enabled them in the 1980s-2000s.
Just look at La Russa’s resume — back-to-back-to-back pennants in 1988, ’89 and ’90, including the 1989 World Series, that would not have been won without the exploits of the “Bash Brothers,” McGwire and Jose Canseco.
And yes, La Russa won his two World Series titles in St. Louis long after McGwire’s retirement. But he doesn’t get the Cardinals job without proving himself in Oakland. And he certainly wasn’t hurt by having McGwire and six players named in the Mitchell Report in his lineups as he became the third-winningest manager in history.
And let’s be honest… though he’s never tested positive, lots of people still have questions about Albert Pujols’ cleanliness due to his power and the era he played in. (Former Cardinal Jack Clark stirred that pot last year by saying Pujols juiced, then retracted the claim when sued by Pujols for defamation. You’d think there would be an A-Rod smoking gun if Pujols actually did juice, but then again people tend not to rat you out when you aren’t a piece-of-crap human).
La Russa probably has some sense of awareness here — when asked about the players in the steroid era, he said they should be allowed in, but “with an asterisk.”
“It was a bad period. But if a player has Hall of Fame credentials, I think they should be allowed in — a lot of them had Hall of Fame credentials before all of that came out.”
He’s right, of course — because he racked up his own credentials during that “bad period.” As a simple course of logic, if Tony La Russa is a Hall of Famer, the guys who got him there belong too. Even if it’s with an asterisk attached. Maybe they can start with La Russa’s plaque first.