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Sports


Pluto: Trying to figure out how steroids fit the "integrity of the game"
Conflicted, Terry Pluto withheld his Hall of Fame ballot this year; and now he's more conflicted
by WKSU's AMANDA RABINOWITZ


Morning Edition Host
Amanda Rabinowitz
 
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For more than a decade, WKSU sports commentator Terry Pluto has been helping to select who gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

He did not cast a vote in this year’s balloting. And that decision has been weighing on him. Last week, no player got the 75 percent of votes from the Baseball Writers Association required to get into Cooperstown. That’s because most of the top eligible players, including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, have been linked to steroid use. Terry Pluto joins me, Terry, you’re among about 600 writers who vote each year. What does not casting a ballot mean?

 

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For the first time, Terry Pluto opted out of voting for inductees into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I was always thrilled to vote for the Hall of Fame,” he says.  But this year, he simply never mailed back his ballot.

The reason was simple. “By me just walking away, I’m saying, ‘I don’t know what to do with these steroid guys.’”

“These steroid guys” include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.

“The list has been growing. … There’s five of them on this ballot. And baseball has this ‘integrity of the game’ clause, where we’re (baseball writers) supposed to be the protectors of the integrity of the game,” says Pluto. But “where does steroids fit with that?”

Not so simple
Pluto says he used to have a moral clarity about it. “For a long time my policy was, if your name appeared on the Mitchell report or if you were suspended for using steroids, I wouldn’t vote for you. But now there’s becoming so many guys and more are coming.”

That likely includes Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez, two of the biggest names in the game – both tainted by steroid use.

Meanwhile, Pluto regrets holding onto his ballot this year.

What his non-vote cost
And by not voting, he contributed to two players he likes – neither tainted by steroid claims – falling short of the 75 percent of the votes they needed. One is Detroit pitcher Jack Morris; the other is Astros second-baseman Craig Biggio.

Pluto expects to vote for both next year.

Meanwhile, he’d like the Hall of Fame to stop leaning on the “integrity of the game” clause.  “Frankly, I wish the Hall of Fame would issue a (policy) that, ‘We don’t care if they used steroids or not; just vote your conscience.’”

And Pluto says there may be a generational divide among those consciences. Younger writers seemed more open to inducting Bonds and the others – steroids or not.

“They kind of grew up with that (steroid-taint in baseball) and say, … ‘I’m not going to play moral policeman.’”

Pluto expects, though, that next year’s ballot will include some can’t-miss names like pitcher Greg Maddox and, perhaps, slugger Frank Thomas. So he doesn’t expect a repeat of this year – when there will simply be no Class of 2013.

Listener Comments:

Terry,

I'm a little confused by your comments. Are you planning to vote for Morris as some sort of protest? He was a good but far from great pitcher. Basically an average pitcher for his career. It is silly to vote for him when there are well more than a dozen better players on the ballot. Heck, several much better pitcher fell off the ballot after one look from the "experts" in the BBWAA.


Posted by: Largebill (West Chester, Ohio) on January 17, 2013 11:01AM
There wouldn't have been a steroid era if the baseball writers had been reporters instead of cheerleaders. When neck sizes magically double, the story is pretty obvious, and the baseball writers ignored the obvious .


Posted by: Karl idsvoog (Kent) on January 17, 2013 10:01AM
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