Baseball Hall of Fame: 5 Ways the PED Era Will Drastically Impact Future Voting
Before I get started, let me congratulate Barry Larkin on becoming the lone member of the 2012 Baseball Hall of Fame class. Larkin had a clear and decisive 86.4 percent of the vote, which easily passed the 75 percent required to get in. It was a pretty simple process. I hope you enjoyed it.
Why do I say that? Because things are about to get a lot cloudier when it comes to Baseball Hall of Fame voting. They're about to get so complex that it will make your head hurt more than trying to watch Alabama and LSU run a legitimate college offense.
The PED era of baseball had its share of "video-game" numbers that dwarfed some of baseball's most significant milestones. When somebody looks at just the stats of the players eligible, it would seem like these guys are slam-dunk Hall of Famers.
However, the PED era has changed that. Now, there are plenty of factors to consider when voting for a Hall of Famer. These factors are going to lead to many changes in who gets into the Hall of Fame and how voters will vote in the near future.
Players Who Should Get in Will Not Get into the Hall of Fame
There have already been several players who have felt the wrath of this new movement in voting. Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were both headed to the Hall of Fame before the news of their PED use came out. Since that happened, both have found their vote totals to be in the high-teens to low-twenties.
I have the feeling we're about to see more of that as names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and others become eligible for induction.
It will be interesting to see writers ignore Clemens' 354 career wins or Bonds' 763 career home runs because of the allegations of steroid use. (Neither case has yet to be proved, but it's widely assumed by most baseball writers and fans.)
More Pitchers Will Be Inducted into the Hall of Fame Than Hitters
If you're a fan of good pitching, you should like what you're going to see in the next couple of years. More pitchers from the PED era will find their way into the Hall of Fame instead of hitters.
It's already been determined that guys like Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez and Tom Glavine will find themselves in the Hall of Fame someday. However, it may be guys who aren't slam-dunks that may join them.
An example would be Jack Morris, who garnered 66.7 percent of the vote this year. As more hitters become eligible, there will be plenty of question marks that may turn voters away from hitters. This could open the door for somebody like Morris.
Morris was the winningest pitcher of the '80s, going 162-119 during that decade with a 3.66 earned run average. The ERA, which remains a contending point of his candidacy, was a bit high. However, as the '90s and the dawn of the PED era approached, Morris went 71-54 with an ERA of 4.54.
Cases like Morris will find themselves getting extra attention, as an ERA of four in the '90s may be better than having an ERA of three in the '80s. Some voters could realize this, and we could see pitchers getting into the Hall that we didn't think would ever make it.
Voters Will Vote More Carefully
The PED era is so tricky because people still don't know exactly who took PEDs and who did not. The MItchell Report helped shine light on the situation, but we can't be completely sure that the players listed were the only players who took PEDs.
This will lead to voters either trying to vote more carefully or ignoring the PED era all together and not voting for anybody. (Writers can opt to hand in an empty ballot. There is a maximum of 10, but no minimum is required.)
It's all because of a simple concept that could become a nightmare for the sport of baseball. What happens if a player gets inducted into the Hall of Fame to only have us find out that said player was "roided" out of his mind?
What would the Hall of Fame do in that situation? Would a player have his Hall of Fame status revoked? This is a scenario voters and fans do not want to have to deal with, so there's the possibility some writers will play it safe.
Standards May Be Lowered Because of the PED Era
Bernie Williams is a good player in my mind, but I don't think he's Hall of Fame worthy. However, there could be a way that a player like him could sneak into the Hall.
If voters determine that all "video-game" numbers from the PED era are to be thrown out, it's possible that voters could turn to "second-tier" players who were not the faces of the era.
It would not only be a reward for those players, but it would be a giant middle finger toward those who did use and put up numbers that would put them in the Hall under any other circumstances.
Players like Williams, Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker (guys who are clean, but found themselves toward the bottom of the voting results this year) could wind up Hall of Famers if writers adopt this philosophy.
Cases Like Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson May Be Reviewed
This one is a bit out there, and it really doesn't have anything to do with voting, but it's a topic that should be uncovered when we're talking about who should be in the Hall of Fame.
Both Pete Rose and "Shoeless" Joe Jackson received lifetime bans from baseball for their relations with gambling. Rose bet on games during his managerial stint with the Cinncinnati Reds, and Jackson was accused of throwing the World Series with 1919 Black Sox scandal.
There is an outside chance that people will look at the PED era and decide that these two offenses were a walk in the park. That could lead to a review of both cases by commissioner Bud Selig and both men finding their way into the Hall of Fame.
While nobody knows what exactly happened in the case of Jackson, we do know that Rose was punished more for lying than he was the actual offense.
Rose has come clean since then, and multiple sources, such as the film Eight Men Out, have said that Jackson did not have any involvement in throwing the 1919 World Series. (His .375 average and six runs batted in with zero errors would seem to back that statement up.)
Both would have to be selected by the Veterans Comittee (which only seems to elect dead people, but that's a different story), but it's an interesting debate as the Hall of Fame induction process gets tougher over the next few years.