Baseball Hall of Fame 2013: Voters set Steroid Precedent with Shutout

Jonathan IrwinContributor IIJanuary 9, 2013

BOSTON, MA - SEPTEMBER 26:  Former Boston Red Sox player Roger Clemens is honored during a ceremony for the All Fenway Park Team prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays on September 26, 2012 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

The MLB announced Wednesday that for the first time since 1996 the BWAA has not elected anyone to the Baseball Hall of Fame this year. While that comes as a shock to many deserving players, it sets quite a precedent.

The voting split revolves around the steroid era, with names such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire receiving votes, but not nearly enough for HOF admittance.

Of course this isn't the first time voters have spurned players linked to steroids and PEDs. Mark McGwire has been on the ballot for seven years now, and he continues to fall short of being voted in.

The big difference is that while McGwire's stats are worthy, each of those years has still seen someone deserving voted into the Hall.

But it doesn't make a difference this year. This year, no one is getting in.

And going off of pure stats, it's hard to make a case against first-year ballot members Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Bonds is the all-time home run king in baseball, with a lifetime OPS of 1.051. The Rocket has an equally strong resume, with over 350 wins and 4,600 strikeouts.

And that's simplifying these two players' resumes. We could be here all day rattling off stats that make them deserving.

If we just take numbers and on-field achievements into account, there's no one more deserving on this year's ballot than these two.

Keep in mind that it's also never been proven that either player took PEDs. But there's enough evidence to link them to having done so.

Both players have faced their own perjury charges with Congress, which you think would further solidify evidence for or against their PED use.

While Bonds was found guilty in his case, Clemens won his. So shouldn't he at least be let in?

By denying both players entry into the Hall—as well as anyone else this year—the BWAA has shown its stance on PEDs.

Even if you're not 100 percent guilty, it doesn't matter. If your name has in any way been linked to PEDs with strong suspicion, the BWAA majority will deny you entrance into the HOF.

Keep in mind, this precedent won't only affect steroid era players.

As long as the pattern holds, don't expect to ever see Alex Rodriguez or Manny Ramirez in the Hall of Fame.

What about Ryan Braun? The young star is certainly on his way to the Hall, but was recently linked to PED use just last year.

While Braun won his case against the MLB—thus exonerating his name—will it even matter? Would the BWAA agree Braun is clean, or condemn his HOF status because of what was ruled as a testing error?

Something to note about all of this is that the voters seem to be split. Bonds and Clemens both received over 30 percent of the vote—which is more than any other steroid-linked player has garnered.

So even though the majority wants to keep steroid-linked players out of the HOF, not everyone does. If voters remain split in such a way, we could see multiple years in which no one is voted in.

That may be the most unfortunate part of all this.

And so, the dark clouds of the steroid era continue to hang over MLB—only now it's not just taking down suspected players, as other greats are having their Hall admittance denied as well.

Until this precedent is lifted, who knows how long until we have players voted back into the Hall.