Tuesday, January 9, 2018

What Baseball and the Tour de France Should Have in Common

I'm a big fan of the Tour de France.  I guess it started in French class in high school when we got to watch a video of the previous year's race.  Like baseball, even more so, cycling has been tainted the past 30 years by its athletes using performance enhancing drugs.  Here's a trivia question for you.  Who won the Tour de France in 1999?  How about in 2002?  In 2005?  The answer is nobody.  In every year from 1999 through 2005 Lance Armstrong stood on the podium in Paris as the winner.  But about five years ago when all his performance enhancing drug use became public, he was stripped of those titles.  So why didn't they declare the winner to the be the second place finishers those years?  Because they too had used PED's.  How about the third place finishers?  Same.  What about the 100th place finishers.  Still the same.  Because there weren't any participants in those years' Tours who were thought to be clean, they decided not to give the title to anybody.  So for seven straight years the 2,000+ mile race was held and the history books record no winners.  That doesn't look good for the sport.  But they didn't lower their standards.

If you're still with me, this is where I'll draw the parallel to baseball.  I hear and read a lot of people who are willing to induct known PED users into the baseball Hall of Fame.  Everybody was doing it, so we must lower the standard, the sentiment goes.  And to that I ask, do we really?  If keeping steroid users out of the Hall means we have fewer inductees for the next few years, I'm fine with that.  It will go down as part of the story of baseball's history, just as it has with cycling.

My prediction is that Bonds and Clemens will eventually get in.  And then the floodgates will open.  I even think that McGwire will get in some day via a veteran's committee.

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