Another year, another couple new faces in Cooperstown.
Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven both have officially accomplished the ultimate goal for any baseball player. Their names will forever be remembered in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
Alomar only had to wait two years after his eligibility to make it in, and there's no doubt he's deserving of this very high honor. Blyleven, although just as deserving, had to wait an astonishing 14 years until finally getting enough votes. Either way, both of these guys were pretty much no-brainers, and they represent exactly how the great game of baseball should be played.
Now, a new era of baseball players are waiting to get their shot at getting into the hall. The era that they come from though is filled with uncertainty.
This was an era in which when new kings were crowned, there was skepticism instead of celebration. This was an era where every broken record has a nice shiny asterisk attached to the end of it. This was an era where we saw our beloved sport on trial and watched our heroes lie right to our faces.
Of course, I'm talking about the Steroid Era.
In two years, the Hall of Fame ballots will look quite different, and questions about who enters the hall won't just be about how good these players were, but about what substances these players took. In two years, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa will all be eligible, and so will there vices.
That's the day that our Hall of Fame voters answer some very serious questions about what the Steroid Era will mean to baseball history. Is leaving out three of the greatest players of this generation even a legitimate option?
There's already been some indication that steroids and Hall of Fame plagues simply do not mix. Mark McGwire, another one of this generation's finest, hasn't even cracked 25 percent of the votes in the four years he's been eligible. It's clear he's been marked as a cheater.
But home run king* Barry Bonds? Clemens? Sosa? Is there really a chance that the Hall is going to reject two more 500 home run hitters and arguably the best pitcher of his time? Something about that just doesn't seem right, and it's an absolute shame.
I don't know what I would do if I was given that ballot. I will admit that I think using performance enhancing drugs is cheating. I don't know why, in many ways, it's just how I was brought up.
Using that stuff puts you at a serious advantage over another person, and when that happens, it's no longer a fair and honest game between two people.
You may not agree, but like I said, my reasoning is based simply on what I've grown up to understand about the game of baseball. You break rules, you get punished. Simple as that.
However, I must admit that I do understand the other side of the argument. Steroids may enhance performance, but they don't help you learn how to swing a bat or hurl a 100 mph fastball.
They don't make you bigger and stronger just by taking them. The people who do take PEDs work just as hard in the weight room as the people who don't; those on PEDs just happen to see more effective results. No matter what these men took, they were still more talented than 99.9 percent of those around them.
Plus, in a period of baseball history where everyone has been questioned at one point or another about steroids, what right is there to ignore one's achievements for simply getting caught?
Again, I'm not a Hall of Fame voter, and in 2013, I honestly wouldn't want to be. That's the year where we'll finally see just how big baseball's black eye really is. They may try to wipe that time in baseball away, but numbers don't lie, and they also just don't disappear. Players don't either, especially great ones.
Who knows. Maybe as the years go by, people from a more current time period will look at steroids differently. Maybe Bonds, Sosa and Clemens aren't doomed after all. But only time will tell that, and in 2013, we'll see just how big of a hole they're actually in.
Not to mention, once you open those gates, it'll be impossible not only to recognize the Steroid Era, but to reward players for their accomplishments—no matter how they were accomplished. I'm not sure baseball is ready to do that, nor do I think they ever will be.
Blyleven waited 14 years for his turn. It'll be quite interesting to see what the next 14 years holds for these three men.
Make room Pete Rose, you've got some company.