Confusion and fear—that's why nobody on this year's Hall of Fame ballot was inducted, as we learned via the BBWAA's official Twitter account:
BBWAA (@officialBBWAA) January 9, 2013
That, and the fact that steroids remain a major problem in Major League Baseball.
I can't say I'm surprised—I wrote earlier this week that I thought this was going to happen.
But I'm disappointed.
We all should be.
I think we all can appreciate the position that the voters found themselves in, and how difficult it was. But it's not an excuse to kick the can down the road for another year.
This problem isn't going away.
The victims in all of this aren't guys like Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, players who, along with plenty of others, are the poster boys of the Steroid Era in baseball history.
Jack Morris, who won more games during the 1980s than any other pitcher, is a victim.
Craig Biggio, who not only eclipsed 3,000 career hits, but is one of five players to finish their careers with at least 600 doubles and 400 stolen bases, the others being Ty Cobb, Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Tris Speaker, is another.
Mike Piazza, the greatest offensive catcher that the game has ever seen...Tim Raines, one of the preeminent leadoff hitters the game has ever known—they have all been unfairly judged by the guardians of the Hall.
If players who are suspected of using steroids or other performance-enhancing drugs are being penalized for their choices, shouldn't those with no cloud over their heads be rewarded for the choices that they made?
These players played the game the right way, and their numbers are good enough that they have been debated on the ballot, in some cases, for years.
Shouldn't those numbers become even more impressive considering how the deck was stacked against them?
Look, I understand that there's no user's manual for how to handle potential Hall of Famers who played during the Steroid Era, and, as previously mentioned, the voters are in a very difficult position.
But the definitive list of who did steroids and who did not isn't going to magically appear in Peter Gammons' inbox one day.
There's the confusion.
Fear, of course, was the overwhelming fear that collectively, they would elect someone into the Hall of Fame that it would later be proven did, in fact, use performance-enhancing drugs.
What's going to happen next year, when guys like Frank Thomas, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux debut on the ballots? There's no reason to assume that things will be any more clear cut than they were this year.
The voters had a chance to ensure that the Steroid Era remained where it belonged, in the past.
Make a strong statement that nobody even loosely associated with steroids is going to garner any support for induction into the hallowed halls over which they watch.
Instead, they allowed to jump right back to the forefront of the conversation, with guys like Bonds and Clemens each showing up on more than 30 percent of submitted ballots.
The lines have been blurred between clean and dirty players—and it's going to cloud every Hall of Fame ballot for the foreseeable future.
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