As the longtime debate regarding performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in Major League Baseball comes to the forefront once again, so too do the questions about the Hall of Fame.
So far, the testing process seems to have had little, if any, deterrent effect on those who use within the sport.
Drugs in sports are nothing new, and will not be going anywhere in the future. As long as there is competition, there will always be players who are looking for that extra edge.
Whether they’re hoping for a big payday, trying to recover from injuries or continue their career for a few more years, there will always be players who use drugs.
This leads to a very difficult problem. How do we ever know definitively who did or did not use?
In short, you will never know for sure who didn’t.
Some are able to outsmart the tests and some may simply never be tested at a time when the banned substance is in their system.
This is what creates a problem for players on the Hall of Fame ballot who have not been associated with PEDs.
Because of the gravity of the situation, writers are concerned to vote for anyone from the steroid era out of fear that it will one day be discovered that the player used PEDs.
It’s a legitimate concern. At the same time, we can’t simply ignore the last 25 years of baseball or the next 25 either. There will be feats and accomplishments that put worthy players in line for what should be a no doubt Hall of Fame berth.
While there will be some players we know for sure used steroids—Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro—how do we cast light on those deserving players who played by the rules and are just simply great baseball players?
The solution? MLB should begin to publish the results of all drug test tests, both positive and negative.
Currently, we are only informed when a player has failed a drug test and lost their appeal.
What we need to focus on are the players who pass.
If we found out that Jeff Bagwell tested clean 22 times in his career, do you think he would already be in the Hall of Fame?
There is no reason for there to be a shadow over the career of innocent players who are only guilty of being bulky and playing quality baseball. Not everyone who is great is a user, and as a result, they should not all be treated as such.
Those players deserve to be vindicated publicly and recognized for their honesty.
By publishing all of the test results, it would not only punish those who are guilty, but reward those who play by the rules.
To vindicate those who are deserving is every bit as important as seeing justice served for the players who have been caught.
There is no foolproof answer nor is there a definitive way to remove all PEDs from the game.
With that said, at a certain point it is time to come to a conclusion that will allow the game to move beyond these scandals and into the future.
It’s time to get back to the era when baseball was America’s pastime and move on from the soap opera drama this game has become.
Show us the clean tests.