The Baseball Writers’ Association of America decided to not elect anyone to the Hall of Fame this year. The last time that happened was in 1996. The biggest argument is that the vast majority of the worthy candidates had two things going against them: first, there is a genuine bias against first ballot inductees and second, they are the poster children for the steroid era.
Candidates that were not elected included the greatest home run hitter in baseball, Barry Bonds, and arguably the greatest pitcher in the last quarter century or more years, Roger Clemens. Bonds won seven MVP awards, while Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards, and an MVP.
Also on the list was one of the greatest hitting catchers of all time, Mike Piazza and one of the best hitting first basemen of all time in Jeff Bagwell. All of these athletes had one thing in common: they were the best at the position and were rumored to have taken performance enhancing drugs.
The hypocrisy of the baseball writers who have made their living covering these great athletes knows no limits. Denying these athletes their place in the Hall of Fame museum is like denying that the “Steroid Era” of baseball is a part of the sports’ legacy. Baseball owes its life to the steroid era. After the baseball players strike of 1994-95, baseball’s popularity was at an all-time low. Attendance was down and fan interest was rapidly waning until Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa went on a home run pursuit of the single season mark of 61. Their pursuit of the record revitalized the sport and generated billions of dollars. They were named Sports Illustrated co-Sportsman of the Year in 1998. Now the writers want to punish Sosa and McGwire by denying them their place in Cooperstown.
Baseball and its writers show their hypocrisy because they continue to make money on these athletes' past accomplishments, yet deny them their place in the Hall. Consider that memorabilia of their accomplishments are sold at the Hall of Fame, and equipment from their accomplishments are on display in the museum.
Additionally, the league has not stricken their accomplishments from the official records of the sport. Bonds, Sosa, and McGwire, plus Rafael Palmeiro all have statistics that rank them as some of the best home run hitters in the history of the game. Even if they were using performance enhancing drugs that doesn’t account for the number of home runs, hits and in the case of Bonds, fielding accomplishments. Performance enhancing drugs are not going to make you a Hall of Famer. If that were true we would all be taking them. If I could take a drug that would allow me to hit 700 home runs and make $20 million a year, I would do it in a heartbeat.
The most interesting part of this injustice is that Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, and Bagwell have never been suspended or found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs. So technically they haven’t committed any infraction that would impugn the integrity of the Hall of Fame. Ask yourself this: why does a sport like football, which will shoot you up with drugs in order to get you back on the field, not guilty of encouraging the use of performance enhancing drugs?
Some feel that it is a matter of preserving the integrity of the sport and its hallowed Hall. This is the hallowed museum that is filled with racists, wife beaters, and adulterers, not to mention cheaters like Gaylord Perry.
Baseball is not returning any ticket money to the people who watched these “cheaters”. They aren’t changing any of the record books, and they haven’t stopped promoting their accomplishments. Alex Rodriguez — another steroid case — has a $5 million dollar clause in his contract for each time he passes a home run milestone of 660 (Willie Mays), 714 (Babe Ruth), 755 (Hank Aaron), and 762 (Bonds). If he lasts long enough and reaches Bonds he will make as much as $25 million chasing the record, and baseball and its writers will be right there raking in millions collectively promoting the effort. And then they will turn around and deny him his place in the museum of accomplishments. They are hypocrites.