With this new class of players eligible to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall Of Fame, comes with more controversy than we’ve ever experienced before. Players like Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell, Piazza, Sosa, all who have been associated in some way with performance enhancing drugs, are now sitting, waiting to be judged. I’ve sat and listened to all the pro’s and con’s of selecting a player in such a class, and having been a huge baseball fan all my life here’s my thoughts:
You’ve got to judge these guys the same way you’d judge in a noncontroversial year, and here’s why. no one knows the extent of PED use in this era. We only know it was extremely widespread but from player to player…we don’t know. I respect all these guys, first and foremost, but no one knows if a player like Craig Biggio ever tinkered with PED. I don’t believe he did, but I don’t know. Curt Schilling, with all his anti-PED rants, could be covering up his own demons, as did Clemens in the beginning. What about some of the players who have already been inducted into the Hall? Are we naive enough to believe that none of them are PED users? Not one? I know that isn’t true. How many of these guys have shared the same locker room as “notorious” users? Most of what we are forming our opinions on is speculation. The court of public opinion.
Secondly, we already know there’s “cheaters” in the Hall of Fame. Remember the corked bat era in baseball? There’s corkers, scuffers, high cleat sliders, and spitters, roaming the Halls right now. Are PED users, super cheaters?
Here’s what we do know. Major League Baseball turned a knowing blind eye to these guys for a long time. In fact until 2004, I believe, PED’s weren’t illegal. It was just what some players did to build they’re bodies, and recover from injuries…until long standing records started to fall. Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa didn’t just break Maris’ record, they destroyed it. Baseball was resurgent in this era. After the strike in 1994 which cost the MLB the playoffs and the World Series, baseball was floundering attendance-wise, and fans were serious. Cal Ripken Jr., McGwire, Sosa and Bonds put butts back in seats. They got fans to forget how hurt and frustrated they were and got them out to the ballpark. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not heroes, but they’re also not the big villains they’ve been made to be. For those of you who say they cheated the game, they were allowed to “cheat” scott free with no rules or regulations to stand in their way. Some of them were even encouraged to do these things. There’s no way this problem could get as widespread as it was without owners, trainers, GM’s, commissioners not playing a vital role.
Ultimately, the Baseball Writers of America will decide their fate. I believe the best pure players will be penalized more than the average players who were linked to PED which is a shame. With all it’s faults and times of poor judgement, baseball is still the best sport on the planet in my eyes.