MLB: The Holier than Thou Attitude Toward Steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame

Tim LangeContributor IApril 13, 2011

WASHINGTON - MARCH 17:  (R to L) Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, Rafael Palmeiro of the Baltimore Orioles, former St. Louis Cardinals Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa of the Baltimore Orioles listen to testimony the House Committee hearing investigating steroid use in baseball on Capital Hill March 17, 2005 in Washington, DC. Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Allen 'Bud' Selig will give testimony regarding MLB?s efforts to eradicate steriod usage among its players. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

With the recent news of Manny Ramirez failing yet another drug test, the debate of whether or not players tied to steroids deserve Hall-of-Fame recognition has sparked once again. 

Most voters have vehemently stated they will not vote for any player tied to performance enhancing drugs. Last week, ESPN's baseball analyst Buster Olney stated he would not vote for Manny Ramirez on future Hall-of-Fame ballots due to his second positive test.

Olney seems to be quite the progressive when it comes to the topic though since he voted for Mark McGwire and has said he would vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez when they become eligible for Hall of Fame consideration. 

This raises quite a question. Should we, as the life-blood of Major League Baseball, side with the majority of Hall-of-Fame voters and outcast those connected with drug use? Or should we take Olney's stance and allow such players to be pardoned into baseball's most prestigious club?

My answer is Olney's answer.

It is time for most baseball writers to wake up and realize that steroids were a large part of baseball for the better part of two decades. If every deserving player tied to steroid use was not allowed entry into the Hall, then we would be left with an entire generation of few or no inductees.

Players such as Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa and McGwire, who were so instrumental to baseball, would be left in the cold simply because they were doing what everyone else was.

In no way am I condoning the use of PEDs, but when your livelihood depends on being the best, and everyone around you is cheating, it is easy to see why so many chose to do so.

After all, let's not fool ourselves into thinking that only the elite players were using; it is probably safe to say that during the "Steroids Era" far more were using than were not

This fact alone would be enough for me to put aside the use of or connection to steroids and simply vote for the best players of the era.  There is one more reason why, if I had a vote, I would lose little sleep voting for a player connected to juicing—and it comes from a very surprising source. 

During the years of the most rampant steroid use, home run and overall offensive numbers exploded.

And what did Major League Baseball do?

They sat back and collected their money, ignoring the obvious influx of performance enhancing drugs.

The offensive explosion created by the use of steroids is arguably what saved baseball after the 1994 strike and season cancellation. Because of the higher attendance numbers and profits, baseball—and more specifically Bud Selig—looked the other way when players like Bonds, Sosa and McGwire started hitting baseballs nearly to the moon and became the size of gorillas.

It wasn't until a public outcry and government investigation into baseball's involvement in the use of illegal drugs did MLB seem to begin to crack down. This apathy to its obvious problem makes the league and its commissioner just as—if not more—to blame for the flood of performance enhancers in the game. 

Alas, I don't have a vote for the Hall of Fame, and even if I did, I'm sure it wouldn't make much of a difference. Sadly it seems that an entire generation will not see its best players enshrined at Cooperstown.

If you agree with these arguments than it's time for us to stand up, and tell the voters they do not own the Hall of Fame.

It is us, the fans, who make the Hall of Fame what it is. We flock in droves to see our past heroes, show our children the players who made the game great and keep the doors of the Hall of Fame open.

It should be left up to us to decide whether we condemn someone for past mistakes or forgive them for staying competitive in a league full of "cheaters."

Unfortunately, I feel we are all destined to witness 20 years of baseball simply vanish into thin air.