Most of those who have ballots for the annual Baseball Hall of Fame induction have cast their ballots by now. So far it is too hard to tell who, if any, will be honored by the 75% vote for admittance this summer. Some even speculate that no one will receive enough votes. If that comes to pass it will be time to seriously consider a new method of election. The current crop of voters (at least too many of them) are proving to be lacking.
To begin with being either a voter for the Hall or a recipient of the honor of induction is not a gift from God. There are plenty of more important things going on in this world and universe for the shrine in Cooperstown to be very high on the list.
Folks who are put into the Hall are going in for what they did while wearing a baseball uniform (or umpires garb, or administering the game) and not for anything else. Good human beings have been honored, but so have jerks, idiots, social misfits, womanizers and yes, cheats.
The current angst over who did what during the era of the P.E.D. is almost laughable. No one will ever know for sure all the dedicated users from those who may have dabbled from those who cleanly built their strength to produce more bat speed or a quicker fast ball.
Let’s be honest, the greatest crime that Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire may have committed was breaking cherished baseball records while using steroids or other P.E.D’s. The loss of records to players who may not have been on the same level playing field with those who set the marks is what has brought most baseball purists up in arms.
I can understand that, for I too, would have had less concern with any “artificial” home runs than may have resulted had Henry Aaron still survived in holding the career mark and Roger Maris still the single season record holder. Alas, that was not the case. Both records fell–the latter–multiple times– during the era.
But we cannot ignore history or try to return to the past. That is what we would be doing if we don’t recognize players from the P.E.D. era in the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens as well as Sammy Sosa and maybe even Mark McGwire are a huge part of baseball history–good or bad. In reality they are part of both.
One can perhaps argue that McGwire is more in the Maris category (who is not in the Hall.) He was a good player but not a great one. He set records that were apparently heavily the result of P.E.D. use. No one can truly argue against Bonds or Clemens for their skill levels. They were head and shoulders above most if not all the players of their generation. They excelled early in their careers as well as late. The latter years may have been aided and took them to records they may not have approached otherwise, but they were great players.
While Bonds, Clemens, McGwire and a few others have been accused with some evidence of using steroids, human growth hormone or other P.E.D’s., everyone who played in the same era has been tainted. That is even worse than ignoring those that have some solid evidence against them.
The Hall of Fame voters simply cannot act as a third world dictator deciding the guilt or innocence of potential inductees. That is what many of them are doing by leaving anyone qualified off their ballots or not voting at all as a protest. Under the rules all voters have the right to do as they wish. If they are adamant about Bonds, Clemens or McGwire I respect that even if I disagree. However, I adamantly oppose those that are judge and jury for former players who have no indisputable evidence against them. In this country one is innocent until proven guilty. A Hall of Fame vote should have no less a standard.
The Hall of Fame is NOT about the voters. It is about players who were outstanding during their careers.
I looked at the thirty seven names on the ballot this year. I would certainly vote for the maximum ten. That list would include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, Alan Trammell and Tim Raines for sure with the final three votes likely for names like Jack Morris, Don Mattingly and either Curt Schilling, Lee Smith, Dale Murphy, Sammy Sosa, Larry Walker, Kenny Lofton and, yes, Mark McGwire.
The list of worthy Hall of Fame candidates is large this year. It would be a travesty if the induction list is not large, too. I am afraid it will not be.
How would I handle the era? A notation on the plaques of some might include a reference to the era they played. No accusations, just a notation for future generations to be reminded of. But they are all Hall of Famers. That just cannot be denied. I am afraid it will be.