Tomorrow, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) will announce this year’s inductees to the MLB Hall of Fame. Some notable names on the ballot for the first time this year include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Craig Biggio, among others. Some guys on the ballot like Mark McGwire, Jeff Bagwell, and Rafael Palmeiro are hoping to get elected after having already been on the ballot in years past. As you may have noticed, every player I just named except for Craig Biggio has been linked to steroid use at one time or another, and that is what makes this year’s HOF ballot so interesting.
Had they never been accused of using steroids, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, and Palmeiro would all be first-ballot hall of famers (Bagwell is a bit more questionable, and we will soon find out about Biggio). Bonds has the all-time home run record, Clemens has over 300 wins and is third all-time in strikeouts, Sosa has over 600 home runs, McGwire topped the 500 home run plateau, and Palmeiro has over 500 home runs and more than 3000 hits. For those who are unaware, 300 wins, 500 home runs, and/or 3000 hits used to be 3 of the unofficial requirements to get into the Hall of Fame. However, those players who have been linked to steroids and who have achieved those requirements are by no means assured of getting into the Hall of Fame, as evidenced by McGwire’s and Palmeiro’s history on the ballot.
Today I was listening to Tim Kurkjian talk about this year’s ballot. Kurkjian is a veteran baseball writer and gets to vote on who is elected to the HOF. He said today that he voted for Bonds and Clemens to get into the Hall of Fame, along with a handful of other guys that I have not mentioned. Needless to say, I was shocked. How could a baseball writer of his caliber and his and knowledge vote for guys who have been linked to steroid use? Also, how can he vote for Bonds and Clemens without voting for Sosa, McGwire, or Palmeiro? Like I said before, they all have Hall of Fame-worthy statistics, so why should only Bonds and Clemens get in? If you’re going to vote for 2 who “deserve” it, then you have to vote for all who have qualifying statistics. His reasoning for voting steroid-users into the HOF was that most players were using steroids during the ’90s and that these guys were the best among those players. He said that you have to look at the circumstances and judge a player based off of those. I couldn’t disagree more.
Cheating is cheating, period. No one should be allowed into the Hall of Fame who cheated in the game of baseball by using steroids or other PED’s. I don’t know how to make it anymore clear-cut than that. Regardless of their statistics, if they cheated, they don’t deserve the Hall of Fame. I realize that of the names I mentioned only Palmeiro and McGwire have been proven to use steroids, but I think most of us know that the others are guilty as well, which is something that no professional sports writers will ever publicly state.
One last thing, and this if for Major League Baseball. How can these steroid guys be placed on the HOF ballot and the all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, can’t be? (In fact, Rose is banned from baseball for the rest of his life for supposedly betting on games while he was still playing and managing.) Rose never cheated while playing. He never did anything to make himself better besides hard work. Yet he is ineligible to be placed in the Hall of Fame, and these cheaters are not. Just think about that one for a while.
I am really anxious to see what percentage of votes these guys are going to get tomorrow. It takes 75% to be put in the HOF, and I will bet that no one I mentioned (besides Biggio) will get more than 50%. I hope I’m right.