Once upon a time there were magical numbers in the game of baseball; 300 wins for a pitcher and 500 home runs or 3,000 hits for a hitter.
For the first time in history, those numbers are rendered meaningless.
The Hall of Fame will induct zero members in 2013 for the first time since 1996. That is not to say none of the players were deserving.
In fact, many of these players will go down as the top players at their respective positions.
Roger Clemens is among the greatest right-handed pitchers of all time.
Mike Piazza is among the greatest catchers of all time.
Barry Bonds is among the greatest hitters of all time.
The statistics that previously jumped off the page are now more meaningless than the save statistic.
This day has been dreaded by baseball writers since these players retired five years ago. Everyone knew this would be the Hall of Fame class that put the entire steroid era into perspective and doubt.
In fact, once the infamous Congressional hearing of 2005 took place this day was imminent. At that particular event, numerous players tarnished their legacy by failing to address the problem at hand; rampant steroid use in the game of baseball.
The truly difficult aspect of the situation is how to separate suspicion from facts. Clearly, there was reason to believe many of these players accumulated historical numbers artificially.
Players such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa are obviously the most blatant suspects.
They all extended their careers while enhancing their performance at ages that many athletes are on the decline. For that, I understand writers being hesistant to enshrine them in the museum that honors players that achieved greatness through hard work and dedication.
The other issue is when to draw the line.
Does a player like Craig Biggio, who accumulated the magic number of 3,000 hits, or Mike Piazza, who set the record for most home runs by a catcher, need to be penalized for playing in the same era?
If so, who is considered legitimate?
Many people will assume Ken Griffey Jr. achieved his stardom through an otherworldly level of athleticism and strength.
Who's to say he's PED-free?
This is a problem that will resurface next season when voters face the same conundrum.
Ultimately, these players compiled statistics that cannot be ignored. I believe the ones that did not actually test positive and were not linked to the Mitchell Report should have been voted in this season.
Regardless, this is a black eye for the game which revisits all the corruption that existed in the game of baseball beginning in the mid-'90s for the next decade.
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