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The wisdom of Frank Robinson

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I don't like Robinson. He's giving me more reasons to not.

Source: AP (via Yahoo!)

I know this might touch nerves with some people that think in this extreme manner, but to me, this is borderline stupid.

"I was surprised and taken aback that he was using steroids, because I never thought about him being a person that might be a steroids user," Robinson continued. "I always admired him for the way he went about his work, the way he performed on the field and the way he conducted himself off the field."

So Robinson is, in a roundabout fashion, saying that Palmeiro never worked hard and wasn't a good guy because he used steroids, which is asinine. I'm not Palmeiro's biggest supporter at this point, but this is silly. Steroids don't mean Palmeiro didn't work hard to perfect his swing. Steroids don't mean Palmeiro is a jerk, either. Cheating is cheating, but it isn't the end all, be all of Rafael Palmeiro the human being.

Now, erasing stats is such a silly idea. These things happened. If you erase individual stats, do you start going back and taking them away from the teams, and figuring what they meant, and maybe erasing wins the stats contributed to? Sorry, but Palmeiro's stats are forever, inflated by steroid abuse or not. If Robinson's argument is, "Where does it stop?" then my argument is, also, "Where does it stop?"

Does Robinson think that erasing stats would stop steroids? He might. I disagree. Steroids, and any other form of cheating, are about the present, the short-term result. If Rafael Palmeiro hit 38 homers instead of 25 as a result of steroids (and I think that might be a liberal estimation), it meant more money the next time he was due for a new contract. If Canseco hit 40 homers, he got more money. If McGwire hit 70 homers, he got more money. And so it goes for all the guys that are suspected. If steroids made Ryan Franklin a major league starter instead of a AAA starter, then he had more money. It's about the now. It's not about the future and looking back. The appeal isn't in hitting 600 career homers, I don't think, it's about hitting a homer tomorrow or the next day.

It's a sticky situation, though, because you do have to at least consider what to do about the whole thing. The generation is, right or wrong, tainted by the steroids scandal of 2005, and something will eventually be done about it, I'd have to guess. But you're also going to punish a lot of great and clean ballplayers if you just lay it on the entire generation.

Wiping out anyone's numbers is the sort of idea I'd expect from a good old days sort of guy like Robinson or Jim Bunning, and while I respect the history of baseball and all that jazz, I think these guys think in the past a lot of the time, and that their insight is dubious at best. It's easy when you're an old ballplayer to say that the kids today have advantages and aren't as good as they were in your day; probably every single generation of players has done that about the next one. Cobb famously didn't like the players that came after him, but then Cobb didn't like most people I guess. And this generation may indeed be more open to criticism in these regards, but I don't know, maybe they aren't any worse than anyone else at the end of the day.

It's already probable, I think, that he won't be elected into the Hall of Fame. And while I don't think Palmeiro should be banned from Hall eligibility, necessarily, that was good enough for Joe Jackson and Pete Rose, and it should be good enough for Rafael Palmeiro if they do decide something absolutely must be done. As it is, Palmeiro is a verified one-time offender. If Jorge Piedra goes on to have a fantastic career and is never again caught using anything, will anyone lobby to have him terminated from the record books?

I guess my point is that for right now, not all of the facts are in on just about anything, and none of this is even going to really matter for at least another couple of years when McGwire's name comes up for the Hall. Robinson's reaction is very knee-jerky, all venom and fire, and he's not waiting until we can get any perspective on this. It just stuck in my craw as soon as I read it. Wait until more light is shed on the situation before deciding anything. I don't think there's any real rush, although obviously one is being created.