Material for articles is never-ending. There is always something to write about when it comes to the world of sports.

Even on a quiet news day, a player or team can be analyzed. That’s what makes sportswriting in particular great.

On this day, three unrelated topics came to mind, two of which I would have known little to nothing about had I not hopped on twitter.

I was going to write solely about the Boston Red Sox, making the case that Jed Lowrie should start over Marco Scutaro at shortstop while also relaying the importance of a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury. That topic I will cover at a later date.

For the time being, two interesting opinions–to say the least–caught my eye, and I feel compelled to counter.


Carlson vs Vick and Obama

First, Fox commentator and vehement animal rights activist Tucker Carlson said Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick “should have been executed” for dogfighting.

Carlson just wants to get in the news, and his goal his attained by voicing such an opinion about one of the more popular and controversial athletes.

Dogfighting is a serious crime. Vick committed murder. And maybe 18 months in prison wasn’t enough. But Carlson has the viewpoint that correlates with the capital punishment theory of “kill, then you should be killed.” There is nothing to that.

What makes Carlson’s comment hard to comprehend is that he also says he “fervently believes in second chances.” Doesn’t this belief imply that to have a second chance one must have done something heinous?

What also makes his comment ludicrous is its timing, as it comes after President Barack Obama called Eagles owner Jeffrey Laurie and applauded his signing of Vick. Leave it to uber-conservative Fox pundits to make the most of an opportunity to criticize the President, as Carlson does take the time to attack Obama, saying, “The idea the president of the United States would be getting behind someone who murdered dogs is beyond the pale.”

Obama called Laurie initially to discuss the Eagles aggressive plan to bring renewable energy to their stadium, Lincoln Financial Field. The Vick segment of the one-on-one conversation, in hindsight, may have been best kept between the two, considering how many of Fox’s vultures, not just Carlson, immediately feasted the comments.

He was just the latest to criticize the President, who wasn’t condoning dogfighting. Given Vick’s play this season, Obama only acknowledged Laurie’s part in Vick’s redemption in a talk surrounding another topic entirely.

According to Laurie, the President said, “So many people who serve time never get a fair second chance … It’s never a level playing field for prisoners when they get out of jail.”

According to Carlson, those like Vick deserving of a second chance should be sent straight to the gallows.


Graziano vs Bagwell

Ballots are being casted for the Major League Hall of Fame, with inductees to be announced next week. AOL’s Dan Graziano was outspoken about one candidate in particular, giving his reason for leaving former Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell off his ballot.

That reason? Suspicion of steroid use by this member of the Astros’ Killer B’s.

Statistically, Graziano said Bagwell is Hall of Fame worthy. But because he played during the Steroid Era, hit hundreds of homers, and was muscular this writer feels compelled to let his opinion enter into his voting.

Perplexing stance, to say the least.

That said, he has the right to his opinion. He can believe Bagwell did steroids. But I cannot respect his leaving Bagwell out based on a hunch. Put that opinion in an article and leave it at that.

Bagwell spent 15 years with Houston, his career ending in 2005, making this his first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame. Graziano is right in saying he is Hall of Fame worthy based upon his statistics; after all, Bagwell was a .297 career hitter with 449 homers, 2,314 hits, a .408 on-base percentage, and more than 1,500 rbis and runs.

Bagwell first denied steroid use in 2004 in an interview with the Houston Chronicle and gives another pretty adamant explanation for why he didn’t do steroids in an interview with ESPN:

“I never used (steroids), and I’ll tell you exactly why: If I could hit between 30 and 40 home runs every year and drive in 120 runs, why did I need to do anything else?” he said. “I was pretty happy with what I was doing, and that’s the God’s honest truth. All of a sudden guys were starting to hit 60 or 70 home runs and people were like, ‘Dude, if you took (PEDs), you could do it too.’ And I was like, ‘I’m good where I’m at. I just want to do what I can do.’

“I wasn’t trying to do anything crazy. I hit six homers in the minor leagues. Six home runs. I hit 15, 18 and 21 in Houston, and then I hit 39 in 1994 when I started working with Rudy Jaramillo and he helped me to understand my swing and I actually learned how to hit. And I was like, ‘I don’t need anything more. I’m good.’ When I walked on the field I thought I was the best player on the field, and I didn’t need anything more than that. It was never an ego thing with me, and I think at some point, it became ego to some people.

“I know a lot of people are saying, ‘His body got bigger.’ Well, if you’re eating 30 pounds of meat every single day and you’re working out and bench pressing, you’re going to get bigger. You can go to every single trainer and they’ll say, ‘He was the first here and last to leave, and that dude worked his ass off.’”

After what has become of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds’ reputation, former players would be foolish to deny using steroids when they did. Because of this, as well as his detailed and emotional comments, I believe Bagwell.

Can’t a differential in home-runs year to year be because of vast, clean improvement and not syringes? In my mind, he hit the weight room, got stronger that way, and had a tremendous career without steroids.

Admittedly, he said his only regret was working out too much.

So, given how I feel about this situation, what does including biases in Hall of Fame voting do for a writer’s and voter’s credibility? I like and respect Graziano. I think he’s a good writer and I agree with many of his opinions. But casting a vote based off suspicion? That’s not right.

It’s similar to refusing to vote for a player because of their attitude and is a watered down version of refusing to vote a player into the Hall of Fame based on the color of his skin, which has also been done in the past.

Such prejudices can still be intertwined and go relatively unnoticed. Per Graziano, making a case for a potential Hall of Famer’s exclusion or inclusion doesn’t have to purely be based on statistics.

I find this to be terribly wrong and saddening, but Graziano said “writers vote because [the] Hall of Fame deems us best qualified to do so.” When I asked if a voter could, hypothetically, refuse to vote for Pedro Martinez because of his or her prejudice against him, Graziano responded, “Theoretically, yes.” It doesn’t matter if it’s speculative, based on dislike, or because of racism; opinion fused into a vote isn’t justifiable.

Rafael Palmeiro, who is also on this year’s ballot, did steroids and should be left out of the Hall of Fame, despite collecting over 550 homers and 3,000 hits.

But Bagwell hasn’t done anything wrong. And just as sourcing should be credible, voting should back up fact.

The only facts associated with Bagwell are his amazing statistics.

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