Steroids and the Hall

I do not envy the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.  They have a difficult job in voting baseball players into the Hall of Fame.  Or not. The steroid era cannot be ignored; yet neither can players of the steroid era be ignored.  I am not at all decided about how suspected steroid users should be treated.

Bill Chuck suggests this creative approach.  He writes, “I’m uncomfortable enshrining Barry B*nds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmiero into a Hall of Fame. On the other hand, I have no problem with their accomplishments being recorded into a Hall of Records in the Museum.

A Hall of Records and even a permanent exhibition entitled the “Steroid Era” would fit in well with some of the others currently in the Museum.”

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who will always be CHB to me, says “we will take longer looks at the steroid boys who were royally snubbed Wednesday.”

I think that is exactly what is happening.  This first year that Clemens, and Bonds and Palmeiro are on the ballot, the writers, intentionally or not, sent a message:  Cooperstown, we have a problem.

As Shaughnessy also points out, “You might also take a look at folks who will be on the next couple of ballots.

Greg Maddux will be on the ballot next year. He will be elected.

Ken Griffey Jr. will be on the ballot in two years. He will be elected.

It will be the same for Pedro Martinez when he first appears on the ballot. And Derek Jeter (players go on the ballot five years after they retire).”

Bill Chuck’s Billy Ball post goes on to answer some of the questions that are swirling in this debate (sidenote: have you ever listened to a debate about Hall of Fame candidates?  Aye-yigh-yigh.)

“Aren’t there known “bad” guys already in the Hall?

Whitey Ford scuffed, Gaylord Perry dripped, Mickey Mantle drank, and loads of players were green not with envy but with amphetamines. These are misdemeanors compared to the felonies of PEDs which proved to a weapon of mass destruction.

There are racists, misogynists, fascists, anti-Semites, homophobes, cocaine users, gamblers, gypsies, thieves and who knows what else already in the Hall. These are terrible human beings, but they did not change the game by their human fallacies. PED users did change the game. They altered the game when they played, they altered its history, and their effect continues for players likeJose Bautista who spends most of his interviews explaining that he is not an abuser of drugs.

Should someone who had a “Hall of Fame career” before steroids be enshrined?

Find me a United States Marines Hall of Fame that has honored Lee Harvey Oswald.

Can a known steroid user ever be enshrined?

As adamant as I am on the issue I think we have to allow redemption.

Here’s what I was thinking, if named players admitted their use and apologized that they hurt the game, hurt their opponents, hurt their teammates, hurt the history of the game, proved to be a negative role model, and vowed to do what ever they could to prevent the use of PEDs including cooperating with the authorities and agencies, they would then be worthy of a second chance of reconsideration for the Hall.”

Bonds and Clemens will be on the ballot for fourteen more years.  That should be plenty of time to work out whether their stats and performances before their suspected PED use is comfort enough for those who believe that they are Hall of Famers, but troubled about rewarding cheaters.

I agree that it will come down to character:  Andy Pettite, should his numbers warrant it, will have an easier time than Barry Bonds.  He apologized AND he is well liked.

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