Or should I say, Sammy Sosa, Hall of Famer?
Dan Shannof made this point (in trying to assert Sammy’s longevity of dominance):
“Consider that [to reach 600] a player would have to average 30 home runs a year for 20 years… or, for those who like a challenge, 40 HR a year for 15 years.”
But if you extend that a little, you start to see why I think Sammy doesn’t deserve the Hall of Fame. The greater your deviation from average stats, the shorter the duration of that spurt needs to be. For instance, you could also average 60 homers for ten seasons or 100 homers for six seasons.
Sure, those are crazy numbers, and not likely ever to happen. And I am not disputing that 600 homers is a tremendous number. My point is that steroids (and corking) helped Sammy explode past any rational understanding of what it means to be a home run hitter. When you are talking about the first person in history with consecutive season of 60 or more homeruns, and the first person with three season of 60 or more, you can’t measure him by the same metric as we’re used to. And I have major problems using those juice-fueled seasons as criteria for hall admission.
Sure, getting into the 500 homer club used to mean automatic inclusion into the hall of fame. But the world record in the 100 meters used to be over 10 seconds, the fastest mile used to be over four minutes, the record for homeruns in a season used to be 60, etc. Statistical measures change; they constantly evolve. You can’t measure what Willie Mays did against what Bonds or Sosa is doing. And you couldn’t measure what Aaron did (such a sustained duration of consistent, non-spectacular, performance) against Ruth.
So why adhere to benchmark numbers? Because it’s easy. But getting into the hall of fame shouldn’t be about the laziness of the voters to make hard decisions. It should be earned.
Consider this anecdote: when I was around 12 years old, my father owned a rotissierie baseball team with a group of doctors in the hospital. When I caught wind of this, I begged him to let me be his GM. After the 1993 season, when Sosa his 33 homers, after seasons of 15, 10 and 8 (injury shortened), one owner made a bet with Sosa’s owner that Sosa would never hit 30 homers again. Keep in mind, at the time, smart money was on the owner who “took the under” so to speak. What with this guy being a scrawny, wiry .260 hitter. We all know, now, that was a bad bet.
There’s no question in my mind that Sosa took steroids. None. There’s also no question in my mind that Sosa doesn’t hit 400 homers without the juice. That’s why I can’t put him in the Hall. To me, Sosa’s a clear case of only getting in because of the juice, as opposed to Bonds who was a hall of famer before he started juicing. He’s a much tougher decision, and only because refusing him the hall would be punitive for his steroids use. The difference with Sosa is that I am punishing him for his steroid use, I am just discounting that portion of his stats that was achieved through steroids. And without those numbers, Sosa doesn’t sniff the Hall.