After the Baseball Writers Association of America elected NO baseball players into the Hall of Fame this year, the aftermath has been perturbing.
This Years Ballot
And the Hall of Fame class of 2013…No one. Though this is not the first time this has happened (8 times, first since 1996), it is by far the most controversial. Players who should be first-ballot Hall of Famers didn’t make it, and look as if they never will.
First, looking at the most black and white snub of them all, Rafael Palmeiro, does the most justice. Palmeiro is a member of possibly the most exclusive club of hitters with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray, with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. Of the four, Palmeiro is the only one who failed to make the Hall on the first ballot.
Another argument can be made for Roger Clemens. With 300 wins and 4,000 strikeouts, Clemens is in the most illusive club for pitchers. Only Steve Carlton and Nolan Ryan reached both those milestones, and both were first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Barry Bonds has the most homeruns of all time. Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron, who held that record when their name came up on the ballot, were first-ballot Hall of Famers.
Many other players on the ballot have worthy numbers but didn’t get in, but these first-ballot snubs stick out the most.
A ‘Clear Cut’ Advantage
The difference is obvious: steroids.
With great power comes great responsibility. The BBWAA bares the burden of maintaining the integrity of the most prestigious club in sports, The National Baseball Hall of Fame. Perhaps electing players like Bonds and Sammy Sosa is an insult to already elected players who didn’t need steroids to produce, like Aaron and Mays. The clear-cut advantage of steroid use apparently scares off voters from potentially tarnishing the Hall of Fame’s veracity.
Here is the tricky thing…
Performance enhancing drugs are nothing new. Amphetamines, or greenies, were used for AGES. How about legal substances? With all the ‘Muscle Explosion’ and ‘Extreme Energy’ products out there, a player doesn’t need steroids to get superhuman strength.
Just look at the evolution of equipment alone. If Babe Ruth and Alex Rodriguez showed up for a home run derby, you don’t think Ruth would have beef with A-Rod’s batting gloves, or flame tempered, custom-shaped, aerodynamic maple bat — aged and hardened in a kiln for 2 years?
And what about the stadiums? Ruth was raking balls over 400-foot fences in every direction. A-Rod benefits from the hitter friendly ballparks in Arlington and New York. And Ruth might also wonder how today’s pitchers had any saliva left in their mouth after a 7-inning start. Ever heard of a spitball?
What We Can Conclude
Considering Palmeiro tested positive for steroids and he barely received 10% of the vote, if you use steroids, you will not get elected into the Hall of Fame. Right? Not so fast.
Although Bonds has never tested positive for steroids, anyone with eyes (even if they are blind) can tell you with certainty, he did. But Bonds received 36% of the vote, meaning that some people will vote him in, and with 15-years on the ballot he will likely get in…eventually.
So then what does that tell us? If you test positive for steroids, then you will not get in, and majority opinion views steroid inflated numbers as fraudulent.
We can also conclude that steroids should be banned from baseball. No, not suspension worthy, banishment worthy. Steroids are considered cheating, and we now see that the BBWAA supports that notion. Eliminate them from the game. If Pete Rose, who gambled on games AS A MANAGER, NOT A PLAYER, is banned from the Hall of Fame, then Palmeiro and anyone else caught using steroids should receive the same treatment.
Bud Selig is a scum-bag. He knew exactly what was happening when offensive numbers were soaring and baseball cap sizes were doubling, but he chose to let it happen. Baseball attendance and popularity resurrected during the steroid era. Bud Selig had his cake, and now he is eating it too by suspending players for steroid use.
Getting into the HOF is harder in general. Fred McGriff, who was a dominant hitter for many years in the late 80s and early 90s, only received 20%. So whether it be inflated numbers across the league making a players case seem less worthy (McGriff), or just the notion of steroid association in the clubhouses keeping you out (Craig Biggio), players who have strong cases to get in, are struggling.
There is definitely a problem. Whether it is MLB’s fault for keeping fans in the dark to this day about steroids and its true presence and impact on the game, or the writer’s fault who are just trying to make a statement by sending in a blank ballot so that all players suffer in protest of “The Steroid Era”, something needs fixed. Rob Rains, BBWAA member, offers his opinion,
“The Baseball Writers should not be the moral police of the Hall of Fame. Many of the players already enshrined were cheaters in one way or another, or abused drugs or alcohol or were involved in criminal activities that made them far from saints.”
Amen Rob, who is one of the most stand up men I know, and not even he can pose as a moral judge of these players (though even he still couldn’t vote for Bonds or Clemens, did vote for Biggio).
MLB needs to do something. The steroid era is not a cloud hanging over baseball, it’s an elephant in the room. Whether it’s creating another wing in the Hall for the ‘steroid era’, putting an asterisk next to a number of players who used PEDs, or even putting a ban from baseball on players who used or are associated with steroids, something has to be done, because for the first time in my life, I believe this publicity, is bad publicity.
Realigning our ‘Chee’
Let’s remember what this is all about, the fans.
As a fan of the game, I just want the players that I remember watching play the game better than anyone I ever saw to be in the Hall of Fame. If I walk into the Hall of Fame with my son and I can’t take him by the Mark McGwire monument, that’s just a damn shame. Did Mark use steroids? Despite any ‘hard’ evidence, yes. Did he avoid admitting it to the public? Yes. Do his numbers and accomplishments warrant his induction into the Hall of Fame? Without a doubt. But because he is a known steroid user, his enshrinement is in doubt, and unfairly so. What he did and when he did it, was legal. The writers are making a statement by not electing players like he and Clemens, who was cleared in the court of law of steroid use. If you are associated in any way shape or form with steroids, you won’t be voted in (even if the law says your innocent). Yet these writers are playing moral police when voting, because all players from this era will forever be associated with steroids, but that doesn’t mean their accomplishments never happened. I saw McGwire smash 70 home runs in one year, hitting balls unprecedentedly hard and far, and for that, I want to be able to visit his monument in the Hall of Fame.