The National Baseball Hall of Fame was egged by its voters this week when they failed to elect a player to the 2013 class. The last time that happened, Greg Maddux—a surefire first-ballot entrant next year, assuming he isn't linked to steroid use in the meantime—was in his prime.
It wasn't for lack of quality nominees either. The fact that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were all snubbed is the biggest news here. Even Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio were caught up in the stink.
We all know the reason: suspicion of using performance enhancing drugs during the Steroid Era of baseball. The distrust put the "cheater" label on them, just like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro before them.
In turn, this process has started a controversy we all knew was coming. Should we deny entry to some of the game's greatest players of their time?
The Hall of Fame is a museum. As such, baseball writers are curators of the sport's history; the majority of them need to take a moment to realize what they are doing.
Take a step back and look at the situation from a bird's eye view. We are talking about entry to a museum designated for the sport's most famous athletes. This isn't the "Hall of Best Natural Athletes" or "Hall of Really Good Players with No Blemishes."
Ty Cobb was considered a racist and an all-around nasty man. Tris Speaker and Rogers Hornsby were rumored Ku Klux Klan members. Before and during the Steroid Era, rampant use of "greenies" was well-known around the league.
The Hall is full of cheaters and bad men. But the idea of admitting suspected steroid users during an era of widespread cheating? Never!
Forget that these players brought Major League Baseball back from the brink after the 1994 strike. McGwire and Sosa captured the attention of millions during their home run duel in 1998. Crowds were captivated by Barry Bonds' pursuit of Hank Aaron.
Forget that men like this made baseball relevant again. They probably took shortcuts while doing it, but so what? Major League Baseball turned a blind eye, and so did many of the writers who smugly refuse to vote for them now.
Forget the likelihood that these players saved jobs, particularly for those who write about the sport.
These very same writers who "stand up to steroids" are dogmatic in their sanctimony, denying some of the league's most famous players—and guys who made the league famous again—into the Hall of Fame.
What a farce.
Perhaps this is temporary punishment, a public flogging of their legacy. After all, they have nine more chances to get in. But given the blackballing the Hall gave Pete Rose, hope does not spring eternal.
There is no doubt that—at the very least—Bonds and Clemens deserve to be enshrined. Whether the writers—those who decided to send blank ballots in or vote for Aaron Sele instead of doing the right thing—will give up their hypocritical crusade is the real question.
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