As Alex Rodriguez closes in on becoming just the seventh player all-time to hit 600 home runs (and the youngest ever to do so), there is not as much attention to this potentially huge milestone as there would usually be. And the reason? A-Rod’s association with performance enhancing drugs.
With this milestone looming, it seams like an appropriate time to revisit an old debate; do players who have been associated with steroids and HGH deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame?
Based on the information we have available at this point, yes they do.
Initially, let's remember that the Hall of Fame is to remember for eternity those who excelled in the game during their particular era. The "era" part here is important, as one cannot properly compare players of different era’s, such as player stats from the "dead ball era" to those from the "live ball era."
What name is commonly given to the era that A-Rod (and Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco and so forth) played in from ’94-‘05?
The Steroid Era.
Although their statistics were artificially inflated by steroids and other substances during this time, so were many of the other players'. Yet these players’ stats were still much higher than those others on the juice as well.
They were, without doubt, the most consistently dominant players of their time, which is the major prerequisite for making the Hall of Fame. If it would make people happier to put a special wing in the Hall for the steroid era so people can have a mental asterisk, then so be it; but these players should be there.
In addition to this point, let’s remember that it was not just hitters taking enhancers; many pitchers have been linked to the juice, including the era’s greatest, Roger Clemens.
In an at-bat between A-Rod and Clemens (assuming both were on juice at the time), if Rodriguez hits a home run, should it not count because A-Rod is on PEDs? Does the fact that the pitcher is on them too not cancel it out? If you take away the home run then it lowers the ERA of a pitcher, who is also cheating, so where’s the logic in that?
It’s murky waters we’re getting into here.
Another reason to debate that people caught taking steroids shouldn’t be eligible for the Hall is that one particular word, "caught."
No one can dispute that there were many more ball players out there taking steroids of some sort who have not yet been named and shamed. But because they weren’t caught, they could freely be enshrined to the HOF, as opposed to those who have been named? That shows a great level of inconsistency.
If we had a definitive list of who cheated and who was clean then, and only then,could you make the argument that the users shouldn’t be eligible. But as we don’t, and likely never will know for sure, it seams almost unfair that some may get into the Hall of Fame instead of others because they were able to hide their dirty little secret.
Finally, it’s not as though the Baseball Hall of Fame doesn’t already contain people with questionable integrity. Without naming names, there are many players from the time of segregated baseball who were known racists. It’s also well-documented that decades ago, "greenies" and other amphetamines were used by players to help pick them up during a long season.
Are those not classed as performance enhancers? If so, why can people who took those make it into the Hall but not those who took a different type of performance enhancement?
Let’s be honest, there is no right and wrong answer here, just people’s opinions. Purists would like to keep the Hall as clean as possible, but we overlook the fact that it is already tainted. If people who deserve to be in the Hall aren’t voted in because of their links to PED's, then we are entering a world of far greater inconsistency and double standard than if we do vote them in.
Alex Rodriguez has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career so far in terms of numbers and performance. By the end of his monstrous contract with the Yankees, he could have record-setting numbers in a host of offensive categories.
Should a player with all-time great numbers, regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all-time not make the Hall of Fame?
I think he should, along with other stars from this era; and I’d like to hear the flawless argument that says they should not…