(Jeff Bagwell, prior to Hetfield-esque physical/facial transformation)

With the likes of Terrance Moore and infamous blogger Murray Chass promising they’ll ignore the likes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza upon their eligibility for Baseball’s Hall Of Fame, SB Nation’s Rob Neyer considers the moralist’ view and suggests, “the great majority of the writers who disqualify Hall of Fame candidates based on the ‘integrity and character’ clause in the voting rules have not considered the implications of their position.”

Even leaving aside Mickey Mantle’s thousands of infidelities and the fact that he essentially turned all of his sons into alcoholics and drug addicts, there’s the little matter of him abusing his body throughout his career. Mantle is famous for arriving at the ballpark with hangovers. In fact, those stories are often told as jokes; it’s so funny that a well-paid superstar routinely wasn’t in condition to play his best. Hilarious stuff.

Just so we’re straight on this, though … If you routinely drink yourself into a stupor and show up for work half-drunk, you’ve got more integrity and character than if you do whatever you can to play as well as you can, within the established norms of your contemporary colleagues?

I’m just wondering. Does anyone really care to stack up Mickey Mantle’s integrity and character next to, say, Jeff Bagwell’s? Or for that matter, Mark McGwire’s? Or Rafael Palmeiro’s? Baseball players have been exhibiting monumental deficiencies of integrity and character for well more than a century, and it’s just now that Hall of Fame voters are going to take those words seriously?

Neyer, ever mindful of SBN’s family readership, thoughtfully ignored the circumstances of Mantle moonlighting as a nude model.