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Fun Cards Submission: 1977 Topps Vida Blue, Cincinnati Reds???

Blue traded to Reds, voided by commish

This may be the first ever card showing Vida Blue in a Reds uniform. Another fantastic submission from reader Patrick, he shows what could have been in 1978 had Commissioner Bowie Kuhn not interfered. Here is a January 31, 1978, article from the Montreal Gazette detailing the trade and veto. A couple of years prior, Charlie Finley had attempted to move Blue to the Yankees, and Kuhn blocked that deal (and others involving Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers) as well.

Thanks for the great submissions, Patrick, and for allowing me to share them with other TWJ readers!

Here come the Elephants

Why do the Oakland A’s have an elephant as a part of their logo? I never understood that, and I’m too lazy to look it up right now. But if you know, by all means enlighten me.

The A’s were the latest team considered in the “All-Time NON-HOF by position team” project on Baseball Fever. This was the most difficult team for me so far, because for the first time there were admitted steroid abusers among the statistically elite. I’m taking the same position here that I take with all other Hall of Fame projects: in my opinion, if they used performance enhancing drugs, they should not be included. I know many disagree with me, but I feel it harms the integrity of the records and taints the relationship between the fan and the game. Will there be players that slip through the cracks, against who there is no evidence of foul play? Probably. But we have to use the information we have and make judgments using that information, trying to avoid unnecessary speculation.

With that said…

My picks:
C: Wally Schang
1B: Stuffy McInnis
2B: Danny Murphy
SS: Bert Campaneris
3B: Sal Bando
LF: Bob Johnson
CF: Sam Chapman
RF: Ruben Sierra
sub1: Dave Kingman
sub2: Bing Miller
LHP: Vida Blue
SP: Bobby Shantz
SP: Bob Welch
#4 SP: Eddie Rommel
#5 SP: Dave Stewart

The top picks of the BBF think tank:
C: Wally Schang
1B: Mark McGwire
2B: Max Bishop
SS: Bert Campaneris
3B: Sal Bando
LF: Bob Johnson
CF: Dwayne Murphy
RF: Jose Canseco
P: Vida Blue (L)
P: Eddie Rommel
P: Jack Quinn
P: Bobby Shantz (L)/Dave Stewart
sub1: Danny Murphy
sub 2: Lave Cross/Gene Tenace/Tony Phillips

Two guys were unanimous selections on the 12 ballots cast: LF Bob Johnson and LHP Vida Blue. I believe Johnson should be in Cooperstown, and I would not necessarily oppose Blue’s induction.

I believe I was the only voter to leave McGwire off my ballot, for the reason stated in paragraph 2. For the same reason, Canseco was also passed over. I realize there is some suspicion regarding Sierra, but I am unable to find anything concrete, so for the time being he gets the benefit of doubt.

Now on to the Blue Jays…

Steroids vs. cocaine

Baseball is going through a crisis right now. Some of the brightest stars in the game over the past two decades have been implicated in the steroid scandal. The names of Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens are irrevocably associated with performance enhancing substances, some illegal under the law of the land.

It brings to mind the cocaine scandal of the 1980s. Several players were called before a Pittsburgh grand jury to provide testimony regarding their relationship with the drug. Some of the brightest stars of that time–Vida Blue, Dave Parker, Keith Hernandez, and Tim Raines–went on the stand and testified under oath to what extent they were involved with the drug.

Some say Parker’s chances for the Hall of Fame were harmed by his drug abuse. The former Pirates slugger received 24.5% of the vote in 1998, his second year on the ballot, but that is the highest level of support he has ever received. This year he came in at 15.1%, twenty votes more than he received last year, but still far short of the 75% needed for election.

The subject of the cocaine scandal has come up lately as Tim Raines appeared on the ballot for the first time. The former Expos star, who is fifth on the all-time stolen base list, received 24.3% of the vote in his first year, which is not a terrible showing. However, not many have risen from that level to induction by the BBWAA vote.

There are two main differences between the steroid scandal today and the cocaine scandal of 1985:

1) Steroids “help performance rather than hamper it, corrupting the legitimacy of results and records” (“Remembering the pain of the Pittsburgh Drug Trials”).

2) The players involved are immensely bigger stars and more likely Hall of Fame candidates. Who would you rather have on your team, Vida Blue or Roger Clemens? Keith Hernandez or Mark McGwire? Dave Parker or Barry Bonds? If you look at numbers alone, disregard what illicit activities they may have been involved in, the steroid users will get the nod nine times out of ten.

To read more on the Pittsburgh drug trials, check out the link above and the Wikipedia entry.

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