You'd think that would give him some sort of extra knowledge about the game. You might think his years of covering baseball would leave him with one of the wisest baseball minds in America.
Sadly, Chass' desire to ardently pursue and embrace ignorance has left looking like quite the opposite. Instead of being an incredibly valuable authority on the game, a la Peter Gammons, he is a washed up writer from a bygone era who willingly chooses to be less educated then he could or should be.
One need look no further than his latest column, in which he expresses his disapproval for the infamous "Steroid Era" in Major League Baseball, and chastises those who might at some point had the audacity to work for the same organization as someone who may have once been suspected of cheating.
At first, he has a bit of a logical point. At least, his headline does.
"DON’T REWARD MANAGERS OF PED CHEATS," screams his headline (with a complete disregard for AP Style, which Chass used for most of his career). I get that. I don't necessarily agree with it, but if you're going to punish guys like Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens, why would you reward managers who won World Series championships on the backs of players like that?
But then, he keeps going. He digs himself into a hole that only Murray Chass could possibly dig, exposing ignorance with every keystroke.
The boxes next to these 10 names will not get an X: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa.
These non-exes won’t get my vote because they were proved to have cheated, admitted they cheated or are strongly suspected of having cheated. I have not voted for any player in those categories and am not prepared to start doing so now.
For starters, Mr. Chass, we need to address a few of those names right off the bat. If you're declining to vote for Gagne and Lo Duca based on their PED history, you're starting with the wrong premise.
Are Paul Lo Duca and Eric Gagne even worthy of a second glance on a Hall of Fame ballot? Absolutely not. They each had a couple decent seasons, but there's no on in their right mind who would ever check off their name on a ballot for the baseball Hall of Fame, whether they were clean as a whistle or had been injecting horse testosterone for their entire career. They're not worthy, regardless.
As for the rest, it's a bit absurd that Chass would be so presumptuous as to allow the witch hunt to go on this long. McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, Palmeiro and Sosa are all poster boys for the PED era. If you really want to exclude those players, I get it. I disagree, but I understand that logic.
But Bagwell, Piazza and Biggio?
We've all had our suspicions about various players, but on what planet is it fair to hold baseless suspicions against a player, nullifying decades of hard work and success at the highest level imaginable?
Piazza will go down as arguably the greatest hitting catcher of all time. Gary Carter, who was inducted in 2003, has great numbers for a catcher. Piazza's stats dwarf his, across the board. And despite the fact that those numbers alone are evidence for some to assume that Piazza took performance enhancing drugs, there is literally no real evidence whatsoever to support that claim.
The same can be said for Bagwell. His HOF case is clear, and it's a strong one. Still, he's entering his 4th year on the ballot, and he'll likely be looking at around 50% of the vote. Why is that? Because of his physique, and the era in which he played.
Even more absurd is the assertion that Craig Biggio is one of the players that Chass suspects of using PEDs at some point. I don't even know where to begin with this one, so I won't bother. Was it because he played for the Astros, who housed several PED users (Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Ken Caminiti, and others) and therefore Biggio MUST have partaken at some point?
I wonder if Chass will use the same logic when Derek Jeter comes through the system. After all, Jeter was teammates with guys like Clemens, Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, and countless others who have been known PED users. In fact, Jeter's rejuvenation in 2012 (at age 38) is exactly the kind of season that has prompted self-righteous windbags like Chass to suspect a player. Not Jeter, of course, but other players with similar comeback seasons.
I'm not accusing Jeter, but if one is to call out Biggio, one must be consistent. Circumstantial evidence is circumstantial evidence. If you're going to ostracize one player with no real valid logic, you must do the same for everyone. How is Biggio less trustworthy than Jeter? Answer: He's not.
People like Murray Chass have no interest in looking at facts. They simply want to inject their personal biases and prejudgments into the game, in hopes of having the largest possible impact on the sport.
It's time for him and much of the other BBWAA pollutants to be removed from their positions and make way for a fresh batch of minds. There are too many wonderful baseball writers in this great country of ours to continue letting idiots like Murray Chass have a voice.