2013 MLB Hall of Fame: How Voters Should Judge the Steroid Era
The 2013 MLB Hall of Fame class has been all over the news lately.
The announcement comes Wednesday, Jan. 9., and this year marks the first time that the some of the game's greatest but also most controversial players—Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling—are eligible to be elected.
MLB Network has brought in everybody and their mother to give their two cents on who should be elected and how the era should be evaluated based on the prevalence of performance enhancing drugs.
Opinions on the subject are widely varied.
Some experts and observers accept that it was just the era that these players played in and are willing to overlook cheating to include players like Bonds, who despite admitting to unknowingly using steroids, is still the all-time home run leader.
Another option was to induct them later and hold them off of the first ballot as protest. Some say that any player suspected should be kept from baseball immortality.
One final opinion that has been posed by former reliever Dan Plesac and others—one that I find completely absurd—is that it's an all-or-nothing situation, where either everyone should be withheld or everyone should be considered as if they did nothing wrong.
Starting with allowing them in or postponing their admission: cheaters are cheaters. Bonds used a substance and he even admitted it. Inducting Bonds, who forever put a black mark on the entire league, into the same class as role models like Cal Ripken Jr. and Jackie Robinson goes against everything that the Hall of Fame should stand for.
How should voters evaluate the steroid era?
I'm also of the belief that it withholding a vote until a certain amount of time has passed is silly. Either the player is a Hall of Famer or not. In the end, it's not like there are different tiers of the Hall of Fame.
On the subject of penalizing anyone suspected, that goes against everything America stands for. As citizens, we are innocent until proven guilty and that should carry over to baseball.
It's pretty easy to say who definitely took drugs. Positive tests and admissions of guilt are valid proof that players cheated. Therefore, they should never be Hall of Famers. It's a much tougher call on players suspected of using performance enhancing drugs, such as Roger Clemens. I am a Clemens hater, mostly because I really dislike the Yankees and the World Series broken bat incident with Mike Piazza.
But he is, without a doubt, one of the greatest pitchers ever. Unfortunately, nobody could ever prove that he took steroids. Whether or not you believe that he was clean is your opinion, but just because you think he cheated doesn't mean that he did. Clemens is a Hall of Fame pitcher, and if Ryan Braun stays clean and productive, he should make it too.
The all-or-nothing proposal is just silly. Making sweeping generalizations is usually not smart and that's how stereotypes form. Penalizing players for just being in the steroid era, whether or not they had any link to steroids at all, is just wrong. Players should be judged on a case-by-case basis.
In summation, every player is different, so each should be evaluated individually. If they have been proven guilty, they are out. If they are not proven guilty, they can be considered. In my opinion, Bonds, Sosa and McGwire are out. When Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Bartolo Colon become eligible, they are out too. Clemens, Bagwell and Piazza deserve to be in.
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