Larry Walker HOF Snub Says Altitude Bigger Asterisk Than PED
It looks like, once again, Larry Walker won’t be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. Despite impressive numbers and Hall of Fame-worthy credentials, the Colorado Rockies All-Star outfielder, according to these numbers, seems to once again be on the outside looking in when it comes to Cooperstown.
So if Walker isn’t voted into the Hall of Fame, despite having the numbers that place him among the best who has ever played the game, it can only mean that voters are once again penalizing him because he was a member of the Colorado Rockies and played his home games in the Mile High City. That’s a shame.
Yet, while Walker is being penalized for playing in Denver, players who took performance-enhancing drugs are now being ushered into the Hall of Fame. If they’re not in the Hall yet, they’re getting closer than Walker will this year.
Simply put, the baseball community is saying is that altitude is worse than PEDs.
It’s an interesting statement. It’s also well known that plenty of people around the country will dismiss any Rockies statistics with one simple word … Coors. Playing at Coors Field seems to be a bigger asterisk than any admittance or accusation of PED usage.
Welcome to the new world of Major League Baseball.
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today put it very well in his recent article when he said, “No one cared because the cruel fact is that steroids, human-growth hormone and androstenedione were good for the game. The drugs helped produce unbelievable performances. The better the performance, the more the team won, the bigger the crowds.”
There is no question that Walker has Hall of Fame-worthy statistics. We broke them all down in this article. The only thing seemingly keeping Walker out of Cooperstown is altitude. It’s a simple (and sad) fact. If you put his numbers up on a blank piece of paper and asked people if he was worthy of induction, the quick answer would be yes. Put his name and former team on that piece of paper and a majority of voters suddenly have questions.
So what will happen when Todd Helton becomes Hall-eligible in 2019? Will he penalized for spending his entire career in the Mountain time zone? It will be interesting to watch.
Say what you will about Coors Field and playing in Denver, but should playing at altitude be looked upon in a worse way than injecting drugs into your system to help you reach loftier numbers? The short answer should be no.
Nolan Arenado is one of the game’s best players at any position. DJ LeMahieu won the batting title last season. Neither of these things is because they play in Denver. It’s because they are excellent baseball players who would be welcomed with open arms by any other Major League team because of their abilities. I doubt anyone from the New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox will turn down pursuing Arenado in free agency someday because he played at Coors Field.
Next year, let’s hope the Hall of Fame voters do the right thing and look past any altitude biases. If they can’t do that, maybe Cooperstown is tainted, with or without PED users among the enshrined.