Former Astros 1B Jeff Bagwell has heard the whispers (or perhaps he’s just spent time online) and steadfastly denies any use of performance enhancing drugs during his mostly spectacular big league career. SI.com’s Joe Posnanski readily acknowledges Bagwell’s precipitous physical decline, but cannot view his candidacy as anything other than a no-brainer, particularly in light of how Bagwell was never out as a juicer or anything other than being “a breathtaking offensive player.”
This is PRECISELY what I was talking about when I said how much I hate the character clause in the Hall of Fame voting. I think it encourages people to believe their own nonsense, to stand up on high and be judge and jury. It™s something that my friend Bill James calls the œI see it in his eyes tripe. Bill has finished a book on crime ” it is, he says, actually about crime books as much as crime ” and one thing he kept running into in his research was people who claimed that they could pinpoint the murderer because œit was in their eyes. Well, as Bill says, that™s a whole lot of garbage. Eyes are eyes. Some people look guilty when they™re innocent, and some people look innocent when they™re guilty, and most people don™t look innocent OR guilty except when we want to see that something in their eyes. Oh, but we love to believe we know. It™s one of the flaws of humanity. And the Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players.
I think my e-migo Craig Calcaterra has made this point on Twitter, but I™d like to also make it as strongly as I can: I™d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out. I don™t know if Jeff Bagwell used or didn™t use steroids. But there was no testing. There is no convincing evidence that he used (or, as far as I know, even unconvincing evidence). So what separates him from EVERY OTHER PLAYER on the ballot? Were his numbers too good? That™s why you suspect him?
Well, there’s more than that, surely. Jeff Pearlman would have you believe Bagwell’s failure to stage an intervention on behalf of Ken Caminiti is justifiable grounds for exclusion from the Hall.