Later today, the Baseball Writers Association of America will come out with their Hall of Fame ballot for 2013. I have a feeling that for only the third time since 1965, there may be no one on the list. Included among the eligible candidates this year are Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa. While all three have Hall of Fame numbers, all three of their characters are called into question by the issue of steroids. In order to get into the Hall of Fame, a player must appear on 75% of the ballots cast.
I suspect that this year, these three names at the very least will not appear on the list. And it’s possible that no one will. And I am okay with that.
I agree with what Tom Verducci has written:
Voting for a known steroid user is endorsing steroid use. Having spent too much of the past two decades or so covering baseball on the subject of steroids — what they do, how the game was subverted by them, and how those who stayed away from them were disadvantaged — I cannot endorse it.
As a baseball fan, I remember watching with absolute excitement on the day that Mark McGwire hit the homerun that broke Roger Maris’ single-season homerun record. I just happened to get home from work early that day and turn on the ballgame. I couldn’t even sit down. It was thrilling. And it made it that much more disappointing when questions arose of his steroid use. I felt cheated, betrayed even. It wasn’t even disappointment that the record would now have a black mark. It was the damage done to the entire game. It has been a long road since then–fifteen years–and the damage still isn’t entirely healed.
It may be that Clemens and Bonds eventually get into the Hall of Fame. But, given their numbers, not getting in on their first year of eligibility sends a message that Cooperstown is about more than just the numbers1. And maybe, it will help finally bring to a close a disappointing era in the national pastime.
- And yes, players with character flaws have been voted into the Hall of Fame before. But that should not be a precedent we want to emulate. ↩