Famous or Frauds?
Published: Friday, February 8, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 10, 2013 17:02
I hope everyone had a good break and enjoyed their time off. Many who know me also know that I will capitalize on any chance to write about my twin passions: baseball and economics.
A great deal went on in the baseball world, but what I will focus on for now is the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
I’m sure you all had a good break, but I know of two men who did not have a merry Christmas, and they are Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
In early January, the Baseball Writers of America voted to keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall of Fame (and quite predictably so).
Say what you want about their great feats during their player careers, Bonds’ ability to hit homeruns and Clemens’ brilliant career statistics do not matter much here.
What matters here is the issue of incentives, namely what are the incentives to, or to not, take performance enhancing drugs?
Sure maybe Bonds and Clemens were great players, and perhaps had they not cheated their way to the top they may still have been Hall of Fame worthy.
Still, you have to ask: if Clemens and Bonds make it to the Hall of Fame, what message does it send to Major League Baseball?
While the MLB has extremely strict drug rules and hefty penalties to boot, if Clemens and Bonds land a spot in baseball immortality then the work to prevent prevalent drug use has been all for naught.
Drug testing creates a disincentive to cheat; there is a penalty and possibility of banishment so no player would even try to cheat out of fear of losing his job. This has largely worked, in the early 2000’s everything fell apart but baseball has largely cleaned up and reached a level of stability. There are no 40-home run seasons or 50 year old pitchers throwing 95 mph after all.
However, if Bonds and Clemens make it to the Hall of Fame then there is a new incentive to cheat.
Sure they would get asterisks next to their name, but asterisk or no asterisk, they are still enshrined forever.
Why would a player take the honest route to a 20-30 homerun season when he could dodge drug testing and rack up as many records as possible in hopes of making it to
Players get caught all the time, but it is hardly the end of the world. Ryan Braun made headlines recently yet got off.
Alex Rodriguez has been accused of taking steroids for the millionth time, yet how much of a penalty will he really pay when all is said and done?
With a couple more good seasons A-Rod may retire with 700 career homeruns and a .300 career batting average—for him does it really matter whether or not he cheated throughout his career?
Well if Bonds and Clemens make it to the Hall of Fame, it doesn’t matter at all because A-Rod and other steroid users of the past, present, and future will too.
Do you have a question about economics or an issue you are passionate about and want to know more? Email me and I will address it in my next column!