UPDATED: Angry Bagwell, Biggio Didn't Make Hall? Blame the Houston Chronicle for Not Doing Its Job
Update: We were contacted by Major League Baseball, who let us know that they have reviewed all relevant tapes of Bob Costas speaking about Craig Biggio and he did not suggest Biggio had used PEDs. We apologize for the error.
Bagwell shafted yet again.
So you're angry about Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio. You cannot understand how a guy with 3,000 hits cannot be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the very first ballot. It pisses you off that Jeff Bagwell, one of the statistically greatest first baseman to ever play the game, was rejected once again.
Astros fans watched the duo go out on the field together for virtually every game from 1991 to 2005. They weren't obnoxious. They didn't draw unnecessary attention to themselves -- except for maybe Bagwell's stupid facial hair. They just played baseball. They played baseball better than any other baseball players in the history of the Houston Astros.
But yet the Baseball Writers Association of America (those charged with selecting the inductees into the Hall of Fame) somehow found it fit to select neither Biggio or Bagwell (or Mike Piazza, or Roger Clemens, or Barry Bonds, or Tim Raines or Dale Murphy). And it just doesn't make any sense.
You're right to be angry with the insipid moral scolds of the BBWAA. Sure, these writers glorified the players of the steroids era, spoke glowingly of their workout regimens. They failed to do their jobs, and now they're holding themselves out as judges and punishing players now for their failures. Never mind that there's no evidence with many of these players. They're all guilty by association.
But your anger is perhaps best directed not toward the BBWAA, but at the editors and publishers at the Houston Chronicle. Because if the Chronicle had properly done its job, then those steroids suspicions around Bagwell
(and Biggio, as well, according to Bob Costas) would have been dismissed a long time ago.
One of the leaders of the Jeff Bagwell Is Dirty campaign is Sports Illustrated writer Jeff Pearlman. And Pearlman, who doesn't have a Hall of Fame vote, has stated that Bagwell has taken PEDs. He doesn't have any actual evidence that he can reveal to the public, but he says that the Astros had one of the dirtiest clubhouses in baseball when it came to PEDs. Pearlman claims to have learned all of this during the investigations he conducted when writing a book on Roger Clemens.
Pearlman has a passage in the Clemens book in which it's clear that Bagwell and Biggio could have easily been vindicated by the Houston Chronicle. Only the Chronicle decided it didn't want to bother with such an investigation.
From page 281 of the hardcopy edition of The Rocket That Fell to Earth, Pearlman writes:
The Houston Chronicle considered launching its own probe. "I had it all planned," says [Fred] Faour [former sports editor of the Chronicle]. "We all had suspicions about Roger [Clemens] and some of the other guys, and we did a lot of digging. But that kind of thing takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money. I had an investigative reporter I had planned on hiring just for the task, but I was not allowed to bring him in.
There was no commitment from management to go after it. So we let it die. If the players wanted to live a lie, we wouldn't stand in their way."
So there you have it. Who knows what the Chronicle would've found in their investigations. Maybe they would've discovered that Bagwell was taking PEDs. Or that Biggio was some kind of drug mule. Or just maybe they would've found absolutely nothing, and if they would've found absolutely nothing, all of those ridiculous allegations being made against Bagwell and Biggio would be groundless and the two former teammates would be giving speeches in Cooperstown this summer as they're inducted into the Hall of Fame.
But the Chronicle was too damn cheap to do its job, even though it knew of the allegations, of the whispers. It was derelict in its duty. Just like the writers of the BBWAA were derelict in their duties in the 1990s. And the result is a never-ending whisper campaign that Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are powerless to stop.
So be mad at the writers of the BBWAA for not voting for Bagwell and Biggio. And be mad at the BBWAA for not doing its job in the 1990s. Be mad at Jeff Pearlman for chasing after Bagwell. But if the Houston Chronicle does it job back in 2004, then maybe none of this ever happens.