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Why Home Run King Barry Bonds and PED Users Should Never Enter the Hall of Fame

Home-run king Barry Bonds is statistically one of the most coveted hitters to ever walk into a batter’s box, but it will be having given in to an era full of off-the-field temptations that will keep him out of the hallowed ground of Cooperstown.

In the courts, Bonds was never convicted of perjury, but on April 13, 2011, the MLB’s leader in home runs was convicted of obstruction of justice and apparently misleading testimony.

Thus, the name Barry Bonds will likely always be associated with felony rather than history, and his Hall of Fame status will remain in question.

The argument of whether or not the gates of Cooperstown should be opened to PED (Performance Enhancing Drugs) users has been a controversial one. A decade with such widespread cheating has never before been seen in sports.

In an article by Buster Olney of ESPN, he argues that Hall of Fame voters should admit PED users and put the steroid argument to rest. Olney claims that any success guys like Bonds and Mark McGwire had “was rooted in that culture.”

Olney, who’s one of the more well-known baseball analysts over at ESPN and a personal favorite of mine, is wrong.

If PEDs in the 1990s and 2000s were “rooted in that culture,” than what about the era of gambling in baseball’s early years?

Putting the infamous Black Sox scandal aside, gambling was rampant and a true epidemic in Major League Baseball prior to 1921. Like today, gambling by players, coaches and managers was illegal and considered a form of cheating.

Under Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who was in office from 1920-1944, 14 players, managers and owners were banned from baseball and the Hall of Fame for betting and throwing games.

Landis, a former District Court judge, was a true pioneer in laying down the law to help fix a broken game. His vehicle for doing so was handing out harsh punishments that included exclusion from baseball and baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Gambling was certainly “rooted in the culture” of baseball during the beginning of the twentieth century, and players were banned from the game. Yet, Mr. Olney believes that steroids were simply a product of the times and all those convicted should be allowed a shot at a Hall of Fame Ballot. It just doesn’t make much sense to me.

While baseball undergoes a healing process as it exits the steroid era, the threat of cheating is far from over. Commissioner Bud Selig initiated tougher drug testing in 2006, but is it really enough?

Manny Ramirez tested positive for PEDs…twice. The first time he was convicted in 2009, Commissioner Selig suspended him for 50 games. The second time, Selig gave him a 100-game suspension that pushed the 40-year-old into retirement.

Manny Ramirez ended his career with 555 home runs, 2,574 hits, 1,831 RBI and a chance to still make his way onto a Hall of Fame ballot.

It’s time to fix this game. It’s time for Commissioner Selig to refrain from his passive legislation of the old and begin Landis-style judgment for convicted steroid users.

But even if the commissioner begins banning players, it still leaves the case of Barry Bonds, who was never formally convicted for steroid use.

“I went through the system. I was never convicted of steroid use,” said Bonds. While he’s quick to admit to being a felon, he continues to deny ever using steroids.

We’re living in a country where you’re innocent until proven guilty, and, hypothetically if Selig decided to start banning PED users, it would be difficult to lay the hammer down on Bonds.

That’s where the Hall of Fame voters have and will continue to provide a barrier for PED users.

“A survey by The Associate Press shows that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, as well as slugger Sammy Sosa don’t have enough votes to get into Cooperstown” when voting commences in January, The Huffington Post reports.

As sanctions for PED users get tougher, testing gets stricter and the steroid era dwindles down to a mere few instances, I believe we’ll see these prominent PED users of the steroid era begin to fade away from ballots and conversation entirely.

PED users will continue to receive votes, but it will never be enough. The debate has turned into an almost political argument of integrity vs. proportion, and right now integrity is winning.

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MLB: Why Former Players Are Being Hired over Experienced Managers

A bizarre phenomenon has been occurring over the past decade in Major League Baseball regarding the hiring of ex-MLB players over experienced managers.

Most of these decisions to hire managers who have played in the past 15 to 20 years have been initially controversial, but the majority have actually benefited teams over the past few seasons.

Third baseman Robin Ventura was just eight years out of baseball when the White Sox hired him as their manager last year. Ventura transformed the previously sub-.500 White Sox to a legitimate contender in the AL Central with a relatively unchanged roster from 2011.

Guys like Alex Rios, Adam Dunn and Gordon Beckham showed vast improvements over their 2011 numbers as a product of the coaching change.

Take another guy like first-year manager Mike Matheny, just six years removed from the majors, and look at the results of his St. Louis Cardinals this season. Matheny’s Cards returned almost all of the players on their 2011 World Series-winning roster, except for one key piece: one of the best hitters in the league, Albert Pujols.

In what was one of the more criticized hires of last season, Matheny dealt with the substantial loss of Pujols and took his Cardinals to a place few thought possible: the seventh game of the NLCS.

Guys like Allen Craig, Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina had some of their best seasons on record under Matheny.

Even the Yankees hired Joe Girardi just five years removed from baseball in 2008. While “Binder Joe” has taken some deep criticism over the state of his team during his tenure, you cannot overlook his four playoff appearances and one World Series title.

So what’s the secret behind this hiring strategy? Why does upper management take the risk on guys with no professional coaching experience?

The game of baseball has changed significantly over the past two decades, and players and managers have no choice but to adapt.

In 2000, the league’s average ERA was 4.77, with no teams having an average ERA below four. The league’s batting average was .270.

Today, more than half of the teams in the league own ERAs under four, and teams are scoring less runs as a whole.

Guys like Girardi, Matheny and Ventura played in the heart of the 2000s, experiencing and adapting to the change in pitching talent.

Catchers are specifically familiar with the shift in pitching talent and have observed the league in its bloated offensive days as well.

That’s what the Miami Marlins were thinking when they went out and signed 13-year veteran catcher Mike Redmond as their new manager.

Redmond, just two years removed from baseball, is the next managerial experiment in MLB that has a chance to really pay dividends for the long term.

These young managers have evolved along with the game and are familiar with modern day pitchers’ tendencies.

For example, having pitchers go the distance and pitch complete games is a trend that’s beginning to fade away in MLB. Older coaches like Jim Leyland, Dusty Baker and Terry Collins are more prone to having their guys pitch seven or eight innings, while guys like Bob Melvin and Bruce Bochy are traditionally more conservative.

Signing a manager with no MLB coaching experience is a risk, no doubt, but it can have a unique effect on a team.

Focusing on St. Louis, Matheny had a similar path through the majors with some of the veterans on last year’s team such as Beltran and Berkman. Matheny also played in a somewhat similar league to everyone on the team. Like the Marlins’ Redmond, Matheny played in the conservative pitching era’s infancy in the mid-2000s, winning four Gold Gloves along the way.

Hiring younger managers allows players to relate to their skipper and will usually strengthen a team’s chemistry.

In regards to the Ventura hiring last year, White Sox GM Ken Williams said, “I wanted someone who met very specific criteria centered around his leadership abilities. Robin Ventura was that man. His baseball knowledge and expertise, his professionalism, his familiarity with the White Sox and Chicago and his outstanding character make him absolutely the right person to lead our clubhouse and this organization into the seasons ahead,” reported Doug Padilla of ESPN Chicago.

Williams was looking for Ventura to transfer his leadership and success on the field to the manager position, and he did just that.

MLB GMs are targeting players who not only display apparent knowledge for the game, but also were leaders on and off the field when they played.

The Marlins signing Tino Martinez as their hitting coach and the Rockies signing Dante Bichette as their hitting coach and Walt Weiss as their manager are more examples of MLB organizations taking this approach to hiring.

Don’t be surprised if former Astros catcher Brad Ausmus becomes the next recent MLB player to take over the reins of an organization, as this trend will most certainly continue in the years to come.

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New York Yankees: 3 Yankees Who Must Be Replaced After Disappointing Postseason

After an embarrassing end to the 2012 postseason, the New York Yankees will be looking to upgrade their roster and make another run at a twenty-eighth World Series title.

Age was a huge factor in the Yankees laying an egg in this year’s ALCS. This team will have to get younger to stay competitive in a league full of rising young stars.

The quieting of the Yankee bats come playoff time is beginning to feel like a perennial postseason phenomenon in New York.

This Yankee clubhouse is in need of a change in atmosphere and philosophy, something that can be fixed by replacing the players with reoccurring postseason slumps.

Here are three Yankees who need to be replaced after disappointing postseason performances.

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15 Active MLB Legends

“Calendars are for careful people, not passionate ones.” – Chuck Sigars

A few players in MLB have transcended time and continued to produce into the twilight of their careers.

Fueled by passion, not artificial enhancers, players like Derek Jeter and Chipper Jones have kept their eye on the prize, being offensive assets and leaders to their respective franchises.

Love for the game of baseball and dedication to the profession motivate these players to press on, while others fade away into history.

Here are 15 active MLB players who share that love for the game and have proven that age is simply just a number.

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