When the new list of inductees to the Hall of Fame came out this year, I couldn't help but wonder why Jeff Bagwell did not make it in. He seems like a definite Hall of Famer in my eyes, and I just did not understand his omission.
I understand that he played in the steroids era and that anyone playing in that era is immediately tainted. Despite the fact that Bagwell was never a huge slugger, he made his money on being a consistent hitter that also had some pop when he needed it.
While the steroid era is likely what is keeping him out, he really doesn't fit in with most of the people who really tarnished the image of baseball. I doubt that you would see his name on any list that includes Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, or Sammy Sosa.
So, despite never being directly associated with anything involving steroids, what may have hurt him the most was the positive test of one player:
There is much about Bagwell and Palmeiro that is very similar. They had long, quality careers in which they consistently contributed to their teams' success.
They were both very reliable hitters that were very highly respected by the fans and the players. I, for one, was quite upset when Palmeiro was no longer a Texas Ranger.
Then came Palmeiro's fall from grace.
I was as shocked as anyone because he had always seemed like such a clean cut, quality guy. The last guy you would ever expect to cheat. And, maybe that is why it hurt so much.
But, the people who are likely hurt the most are players like Bagwell.
Guys that worked hard and did their best to help their team in any way they could. Guys that got dirty and did the small things needed to win.
In short, the guys that fans love the most and earned their respect through quality play on the field.
I think Bagwell will make it in eventually, and he really should. But, it is a shame that the actions of some are doing damage to the reputations of everyone else, including those that are clean.