Gil LeBreton

Pudge deserves to have his name called for Hall of Fame

Former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is on baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot, the results of which will be announced Wednesday at 5 p.m.
Former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is on baseball’s Hall of Fame ballot, the results of which will be announced Wednesday at 5 p.m. Star-Telegram

From Jose Canseco, thanks to Twitter over the past months, I have learned the following:

“Yes. Time travel is possible. Will explain later.”

“Al Gore was ahead of his time. I miss him. Rest in peace buddy.” (the former vice-president is still alive)

“If Earth can control the comet transport system we will run the Milkyway. Think about that.”

“I will come out with a new product soon that stops the aging process by 40% and it’s totally legal.”

And my personal favorite from the ex-Ranger slugger who once bounced a home run off his noggin:

“I actually died overnight and came back to life. Now I am a vampire and you are my apprentice.”

This silly man, this delusional fool, ladies and gentlemen, is the guy whose words are being cited as the main reason for not voting Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez for the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Not me. Pudge’s box on this year’s ballot was the first one I checked.

As one of the 400-plus writers who get to cast ballots for the Hall of Fame, I take the responsibility seriously. As I see it, I’ve been granted the privilege of judging a player’s worthiness for the Hall, not submitting them to subliminal urine tests.

I ride no moral high horse. I don’t ride horses. The museum in Cooperstown is a shrine meant to honor baseball’s greatest. Therefore, I don’t view my vote as a weapon to be used for exclusion, as some of my fellow voters seem to.

We are allowed to vote for 10, and I happily voted for the full 10. My ballot:

Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Pudge Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina and Manny Ramirez.

If I could have added an 11th name, it would have been Vladimir Guerrero, who I’m convinced is a Hall of Famer.

A few votes deserve elaboration. I think Hoffman is the first relief pitcher I’ve ever voted for, but he deserves the distinction.

Ditto for Edgar Martinez, whom some will omit because he was mostly a designated hitter. Which is true, but he was the best designated hitter.

Schilling gets my vote for his pitching, especially his postseason performances. His politics were never considered.

I voted for Ramirez over Vlad simply because I feel that he was the more dominating, more feared right-handed hitter.

Manny’s failed drug tests were only briefly considered, then dismissed, because I consider my task to be weighing the entirety of the players’ baseball careers. Hence, the easy votes here for Bonds and Clemens.

I will forgo the steroids sermon here. Baseball, alone among the major sports, continues to flog itself over the performance-enhancing substances issue.

If a major league baseball player fails a drug test, a Greek chorus of fans and writers leap to their feet and scream, “Kick the cheater out!”

If an NFL player flunks a steroids test, the news goes on the back page and fans ask, “When are we going to get him back?”

There are penalties in place in all sports when a player fails a PED test. Bonds and Clemens, by the way, never failed one – nor did Pudge.

One, even two failed tests do not subject the athlete to a lifetime ban. Yet, the baseball writers with Hall of Fame votes who annually rail against Bonds and Clemens are trying to do just that – subject them to the writers’ own arbitrary moral code, which is more high-handed than the game’s itself.

Take out any one – or even two – would-be “suspended” seasons from Bonds’ or Clemens’ careers, and you easily still have a Hall of Famer.

The announcement of this year’s Baseball Hall of Fame class will come Wednesday.

All vampires and comets aside, Pudge Rodriguez’s name clearly deserves to be called.

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