As we enter the period of time when many former major league baseball players are up for Hall of Fame induction, we must confront one major question: How should the large number of players who took steroids be treated?
Before recently, the only players that was notoriously absent from the Hall of Fame was Pete Rose, who was banned from the Hall of Fame for gambling while he was managing the Cincinnati Reds, and Shoeless Joe Jackson, who was the best of the eight banned White Sox players from the infamous 1918 Black Sox Scandal. But Pete Rose’s and Shoeless Joe Jackson's statistical feats are heroic and legitimate.
Now, Mark McGwire leads a slew of players who have heroic and illegitimate stats.
Mark McGwire is the first player that was classified as a “lock” for the Hall of Fame, but hasn’t been inducted because of his link to steroids. But others such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and now Alex Rodriguez, players who once seemed like surefire Hall of Famers will also most likely be denied because of steroid allegations.
The Hall of Fame voters have loudly voiced their hesitations to vote for anyone who “cheated” by using performance enhancing drugs. I would agree that the Hall of Fame is no place for any player willing to disgrace the game of baseball by injecting performance enhancers into his body.
By allowing players like Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire into the Hall of Fame, we are opening statistics up to interpretation. You know how people always say that the numbers don’t lie? In this case, the numbers would lie.
Assuming that Barry Bonds’ career is over, he has finished with seven more career home runs (762) than Hank Aaron (755). Were seven or more of those home runs directly caused by the steroids that Bonds took? How many home runs would Bonds have wound up with had he not taken steroids? These shouldn’t be questions that we have to discuss.
Baseball is America’s “National Pastime.” It has been around for over a century and a half. It’s a sport that prides itself on its tremendous history and part of that history is the statistics.
Another thing that is important is the names attached to those statistics. Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa? Babe Ruth and Mark McGwire? Hank Aaron and Barry Bonds? Come on. Legends don’t belong in the same breath as the names italicized above.
I think that every kid, boy or girl, played at least one season of baseball. Maybe it was tee-ball or softball, but everyone played. Naturally, kids’ role models are going to be people that they aspire to be like. Kids look up to these players that are taking performance enhancing drugs.
I remember when I was seven years old in the Summer of ’98. At this time, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were hitting home runs at a rate faster than any other player had in a season in the entire history of the game. This could’ve been a great childhood memory of mine.
But, it truly doesn’t really mean anything to me now because it wasn’t real. Those two were larger than life at the time, but now they seem like cowardly fools.
Also, by permitting players who took steroids into the Hall of Fame, we are sending the message to children that it is ok to cheat for what you want. We are telling them that it is ok to lie.
All of this, and the fact that steroids are very dangerous, especially when used by children, tells me that admitting “juicers” into the Hall of Fame would be irresponsible.
Leaving baseball players who took performance enhancing drugs out of the Hall of Fame is best for the game of baseball, as well as the American populace. Even though the records books currently acknowledge players who have taken steroids, by leaving them out of the Hall of Fame, we are still preserving part of the sanctity of baseball’s past.
All baseball fans deserve to have baseball heroes that played the game the right way. Children should be taught that to be great you must maximize your talents through consistent, hard work, not through needle injections.
The only place that players who use the latter belong is in the Hall of Shame.