Yesterday, Dan Graziano of AOL Fanhouse announced that he was not voting for Jeff Bagwell because of lingering suspicions he had regarding whether or not Bags used steroids,
“I don't know for sure that Bagwell took steroids or any other performance-enhancing drugs to help him attain his Hall of Fame-caliber numbers. I don't have evidence, like we do against Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. But I'm suspicious. And this year, that suspicion was enough to make me send back my ballot without the Bagwell box checked. I'd rather withhold the vote based on suspicion than vote the guy in only to find out later that he cheated and I shouldn't have.”This morning, Friend of the Blog Craig Calcaterra pointed out that Graziano’s stance, and that of many of his fellow BBWAA voters, represents a new McCarthyism in baseball, an era of accusation without evidence, based on hearsay and speculation, “Let’s not make any mistake here: this is an accusation. Maybe not a legally-actionable one, but Graziano believes Bagwell took steroids and says it as plain as day.” Joe Posnanski, in his excellent HOF column today, compares it to a witch hunt, “Let’s just burn him at the stake. If he survives, you will know you were right” and “I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out.” As usual, both of them are right on. For if you can accuse (or suspect) Bagwell of using steroids based on the era in which he played and the numbers he put up, that opens the field up to all kinds of wild accusations.
For instance, The Common Man suspects that Dan Graziano, of AOL Fanhouse, is a plagiarist. Now, TCM doesn’t have any evidence. Nor has anyone else made a specific public accusation against Mr. Graziano. Nevertheless, he writes an awful lot, doesn't he? Far more than a regular person writes on a daily basis. And he has been writing about the Hall of Fame lately, which a lot of other writers (including Bill and TCM) have been writing about. It’s just hard for TCM to believe that Graziano could be writing so much without help. And it’s equally hard to believe that it’s a mere coincidence that his article is so similar to other articles out there, both in the mainstream media and the blogosphere.
Frankly, The Common Man isn’t comfortable that a suspected plagiarist might have a Hall of Fame vote, but it sounds like Dan’s already turned in his ballot. So TCM is calling on the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA to put a hold on Graziano’s vote until he can clear up these salacious rumors. If he isn’t a plagiarist, Dan Graziano should produce evidence here and now that he is not and never has been one. Otherwise, he should never be considered eligible for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award, the highest honor the BBWAA can bestow on its members, for which their names are inscribed in the Hall of Fame itself.
Look, TCM realizes his call will not be a popular one. People will hate this position (for instance, Mr. Graziano might be a bit annoyed). But TCM offers this defense: we readers who read Graziano's article should have reported our suspicions earlier. But the fact that we could have been subject to legal action for such reporting works in our defense. But the time for staying silent has long past.
The withholding of eligibility for the Taylor Spink Award based on suspicion of unethical activity is not the same as writing a blog story accusing someone of unethical activity (although, ironically, TCM is writing about his suspicions that he'll have to accuse Graziano of unethical activity in a blog). The Common Man is not accusing Graziano of plagiarizing. He's just saying he's suspicious.*
*There is, TCM realizes now, an argument that he didn’t give much weight to. It could be that Graziano is a good and prolific writer. Not just good, but better than his contemporaries. Perhaps Graziano is such a good writer that he has the ability to post more often and with more insight than other writers. Maybe he’s just better. In that case, TCM would have to apologize to Graziano for airing his baseless suspicion, and take back his call that Dan’s vote be stricken and demand that his eligibility be restored for the Spink Award. But unless Dan can provide us with proof of that he didn’t build his reputation on the backs of other writers, TCM just doesn’t see how that will ever happen.\
Update: Great, now TCM has to suspect Jeff Pearlman of plagiarism as well. Seriously, The Common Man has in his hand a list of 300 mainstream media members who are suspected plagiarists, and he will release it at a future date. Jeff, if you're not a plagiarist, how can you take positions similar to those who are suspected plagiarists? Expain yourself and provide evidence, Jeff!