Before I begin, let me first point out that of the 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, I’m only going to be discussing my thoughts on six of them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Mike Piazza and Sammy Sosa; with whether or not I believe they belong among the games’ all time greats in the Hall of Fame. Statistically, they’re all worthy of the Hall, however, because of their connection to performance enhancing drugs (PED’s), proven or suspected, it makes it one of the most difficult and controversial H.O.F. votes in years.
Having retired from Major League Baseball way back at the conclusion of the 2007 season, I’ve had a fairly long time to think about whether or not these select first year ballot players are worthy of a plaque in the Hall of Fame. But five years doesn’t seem long enough, as it’s now time to make a decision, and, even with hour after hour of debate, it’s still difficult to decide one way or another.
To make it as clear as I possibly can, of how I went about deciding whether or not I believe the six previously listed players are HOF’ers, I’ve decided to give a general overview of the pros and cons I see to the three different options you have when going about this year’s Hall of Fame vote:
OPTION 1: LEAVE ALL OF THEM OUT
This seems absurd to me, but it’s an option nonetheless, so I had to include it. The only good thing about this is that by choosing to keep all six out of the Hall of Fame you ensure that no player that used PED’s gets inducted in. Since we aren’t 100 percent sure whether or not the suspected users did or didn’t use drugs, this is the safe route to take. However, it’s also the wrong route, in my opinion. Leaving out every single one of these players could possibly be keeping out a player who never allowed any drugs into their system whatsoever. While we aren’t sure if there even are any, it’s truly not fair to punish those who could have very well never broken the rules, just because you feel they might have. So, while this is in fact an option, it’s just not right to keep out so many great players.
OPTION 2: LET A PORTION OF THEM IN
Although a little more practical than option one, I still don’t feel this is what needs to be done. Sure, by keeping out the players who were connected to drug use while allowing in those who were merely suspected, you make it fair for the players who might’ve never done anything wrong. However, you could also be allowing a player into the H.O.F. who was just lucky enough to never get caught. That doesn’t seem right to me. Electing to take this option runs the risk of allowing in someone who used drugs, while keeping out someone who did the exact same thing but just so happened to get caught. We don’t know for sure who used and who didn’t, so I feel they should all share in the same fate. Either let them all in, or keep them all out; and you already know how I feel about leaving them all out.
OPTION 3: LET ALL OF THEM IN
This is the best possible option, in my opinion. Yes, I’m aware that by doing this you’re allowing in players who were connected to drug use, but I don’t see another way to truly make sure the great players of that era are allowed in, without holding a grudge against one side or the other. Letting them all in makes sure that you keep it fair for the suspected users while also keeping it fair for the players who were actually connected. Leaving them all out isn’t fair to those who didn’t use, and letting the ones who were suspected in while leaving the ones who were connected out doesn’t seem fair either. I know it might seem as if the players connected to drug use don’t deserve a fair vote, but the way I see it, they do.
Those who used drugs throughout the ‘Steroid Era’ certainly made things very complicated.
Up until a few days ago, I never would’ve gone with option three. I was fairly adamant that any player who was connected to drug use shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Those players cheated; plain and simple. However, the more I think about it, due to the lack of evidence against those players who were merely suspected of using a PED, in the end, I couldn’t go with my original mindset.
Now, I’m sure many of you (perhaps all of you?) disagree with my take on the matter, but I hope you at least understand, to a point, where I’m coming from (if I haven’t already confused the heck out of you). Due to the poor drug testing policy throughout the late 1980’s up through the early 2000’s’, we will never know for sure exactly which players did, and which players didn’t, use performance enhancing drugs. Therefore, if I had a vote, I would vote for every one of them to get into the Hall of Fame.
There are some people who say that if you allow players into the Hall of Fame that are connected to (or suspected of) PED’s, that you should place them in a separate wing, or, at the very least, add an asterisk next to their name. I really don’t see the need. Any true baseball fan who makes the trek to Cooperstown–a few years from now or 100 years down the road–will know the history of the ‘Steroid Era’, if they’re honestly true fans. They’ll know what each player did or didn’t do, and they’ll each have their own feelings as to whether they feel each player belongs in the Hall of Fame. Let them decide how they feel for themselves.
In the end, Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Biggio, Piazza and Schilling are still some of the greatest players in the history of the game. Do I think any of them will get in this time around? Absolutely not. Do I think any of them will get in a few years down the road? I truly hope so. Keeping out this batch of players because of the unknown just wouldn’t be right. But then again, if you’ll look back at the history of Hall of Fame voting, the right thing hasn’t always been done.
Should Bonds, Clemens, Schilling, Biggio, Piazza and Sosa ever be allowed into the Hall of Fame? Cast your vote (you can vote for as many players as you want):
If you wouldn’t let any in, leave a comment below with your reasoning.