Warning: The following post is for sports nerds. If you seek sports lite, humor, or eye candy please move along to the next post – TSG
Baseball has a steroid problem but not in the way that you think. Yesterday, the inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame were released and only two players were voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America. The rules state that a player must appear on 75% of the 581 ballots in order to make it in. There were 33 players on the ballot and TWO made it in. Granted there are always fringe players that make it on the ballot that no really thinks will make it.
However, the larger problem is the writers have made a concerted effort in the past few years to keep out anyone associated with steroids, most notably Mark McGwire. McGwire has appeared on the ballot since 2007 and has watched his percentage of the vote decrease every year. This year, having admitted to his steroid use in 2010, his vote decreased to a paltry 19.8%.
When it was just McGwire being blackballed, it really didn’t seem like such a huge deal because it’s clear the media has serious issues with steroid users. However, this year Jeff Bagwell, who many thought to be a sure-thing first ballot hall of famer was kept out. Bagwell spent his entire career as a member of the Houston Astros accumulating career stats that are among the best for first basemen since the 1940’s. Bagwell accumulated only 41.1% of the vote. Bagwell has not once been implicated as a steroid user yet it seems he is being judged by the era in which he played.
So the question becomes, will anyone that played the majority of their career in the 1990s and 2000s be penalized for steroids? Major League Baseball needs to address this issue head on. They should provide guidance to the writers and to fans as to how to deal with the Steroid Era. Maybe a plaque in the Hall itself that informs visitors of the era and how rampant steroid use was and how the numbers of that time may reflect that. You simply can’t leave out deserving players when you have no evidence or proof that they did anything wrong.
This needs to be addressed before 2013 when Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa become eligible. Otherwise, it will simply be the Hall of Very Good Players Who Had Stellar Reputations, which is quite different than the Hall of Fame.