Letters To The Publisher
Our last "Letter from the Publisher" calling for a ban on steroid usage in baseball ("Boycotting Murders' Row" - Vol. 1, No. 3 - December 2000) caused quite a stir. Here are a couple of the responses:
I agree that there must be a ban on steroid usage in baseball. If this problem continues to be swept under the carpet, the very foundations of The Game will begin to crumble. How can we fully appreciate the beauty of a home run (or a home run race) when it seems likely that a player has bulked-up with steroids? How can we find any meaning in comparing our present day sluggers with the heroes of the past? Sure, there are a multitude of 'hidden' factors which determine the final outcome of a game or a season such as the size, shape, or elevation of a ballpark—not to mention the genetic makeup of the player. But steroids have no place among these factors. Using steroids is cheating and cheaters have no integrity. No one said it would be easy to initiate a steroid-testing program, but we can pay now or pay very dearly later. Do we want baseball to end up a joke like the Olympics?
I take exception to your call for a boycott on two grounds. First, you didn't include the Major League Baseball Players Association in your list of addressees for your open letter. For an association that is supposedly taking the players' interest at heart, they are more responsible for the joke of a drug testing procedure and policy then the owners are. If the players association would agree to tougher testing and punishment, then baseball would take great strides to improving its image. The players association is the starting point, not the owners. And the players association shows the least concern for the fans of anybody associated with baseball.
Second, destroying the game you love by boycotting it does not make sense. There needs to be other shows of dissatisfaction that a reputable journal like yours could organize. For instance, request all fans that attend baseball games (major and minor league) on Father's Day to wear a green shirt to signify their discontent with the financial situation the game is in. Have fans wear their baseball caps backwards for the fifth inning of every game. I just don't think boycotting is best avenue.
From a business sense, I think a start-up magazine like Baseball Ink should not call for a boycott either. If a minor league franchise saw your letter, why would they carry it in their team stores? Why should MLB cooperate with your magazine now? Also, if MLB came and offered you $100K to advertise and sponsor your magazine, would you take it? I would hope so but then you become just as culpable as the other people that you addressed your letter to.
I don't think you should have written that letter calling for a boycott.
-- Pub. Note: Here is the address of the MLB Player's Association:
Major League Baseball Players Association
Donald M. Fehr, Executive Director and General Counsel
12 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
Fax: (212) 752-4378
And a note about last issue's All-Star State team...
This is in response to the Maryland State All-Star team as selected by Mr. Dave Quinn (does his selection count if he doesn't live in the state of Maryland???) I have a few suggestions that I believe would improve his team selection....
Of course, I do not have any problem with many of the selections given that seven Hall of Famers hail from Maryland, of which six (Ruth, Foxx, Baker, Grove, Kaline, and Willis) are on Mr. Quinn's team. And certainly an eighth, Cal Jr., will be added five years after he retires. No arguments there.
However, I would have picked the following players:
1. Harold Baines (Easton, MD) over Brady Anderson in the outfield. Yes, we currently know Harold as the gimpy kneed designated hitting machine, but if you remember his younger years he did appear in over 1000 games as an OF and has over 1000 at DH. Overall stats are much better than Brady's and he has been much more consistent over the long haul than Brady. Big edge to Harold.
2. Denny Neagle (Gambrills, MD) over Steve Barber as the other LHP. Each have 20 game win seasons, each could be considered a journey man. Denny is still only 32 and has as many wins and K's as Steve. Time and Colorado will tell what the final tally will be, but I would pick Denny over Steve.
3. Babe Phelps (Odenton, MD) over Tom Angley at Catcher. There's not too many catchers from Maryland (Jimmy Foxx started there, but Connie Mack moved him to first), but Babe Phelps was an All-Star, playing in the first televised all-star game in 1939. His career stats are much better than Tom Angley's and he played longer. Big edge to Babe.
4. Sam Perlozzo (Cumberland, MD) over Cupid Childs at 2nd base. Okay, this one is weak, as Sam only played 12 games in the majors, but Sam has been a lifelong Oriole (current 3B coach) and his love for the game is exhibited every inning when he sprints out to his coaching position. I think the rest of the team could carry him...since Cupid Childs (great name, though!) was a journeyman, too, it kind of doesn't matter who plays second on this team. No edge either way, but my sentimental pick is Sam.
5. Judy Johnson (Snow Hill, MD), third base, over Frank "I-hit-12-dingers-so-they-call-me-'Home-Run'" Baker. Judy Johnson is the seventh Hall of Famer missing from the team selected by Mr. Quinn. We will just never know how great in comparison to the Frank Bakers of the world the Judy Johnsons (and the other great players of the Negro Leagues) would have been. My benefit-of-the-doubt nod goes to Judy.
Addendum: here's a quote by a California Hall of Famer about a Maryland Hall of Famer:
"When Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon, he and all the space scientists were puzzled by an unidentifiable white object. I knew immediately what it was. That was a home run ball hit off me in 1937 by Jimmie Foxx."—Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez