Today was a brand-defining day for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). Baseball has shut the Hall of Fame door on steroid era players – at least for the moment.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza were among the potential Baseball HOF class of 2013, but it looks like none of these men will have to start writing their induction speeches anytime soon. All four athletes played most of their careers during the steroid era (1992 – 2006). The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) is the organization that decides who gets inducted and who is excluded. The BBWAA has been fairly united, thus far, in excluding anyone even remotely rumored to have used steroids. This year was no different; none of the big name’s on the ballot got the 75% they needed to be inducted.
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have all been directly linked to steroids in some form or fashion; whether it be through the Mitchell Report, a tell-all book or a court case. Piazza on the other hand, has not been officially linked to steroids. There have been rumors over the years about the possibility of Piazza’s steroid use, but no concrete evidence.
These players deserve to be inducted. If these four men, who clearly have HOF numbers do not make it into Cooperstown, at some point, it will hurt the Baseball HOF brand.
The Baseball HOF is a museum that encompasses all of baseball history
I understand the righteous desire of the BBWAA to keep all “cheaters” out of the Hall of Fame, but they need to take the context of the time period into consideration in this case. There is no denying how prevalent Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) were from 1992-2006. They need to accept it or there will be an entire era of baseball greats missing from the plaque gallery. Does it make sense for a museum of baseball history to exclude an entire 15-year period?
The HOF is for the fans
The fans pay money to visit the HOF. They want to see their favorite player’s plaque in the plaque gallery. The HOF could potentially lose customers if they decide to exclude their customer’s heroes. Do they want to turn people away?
What if they are wrong?
Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have all been linked to steroid use at some point, Piazza has not. If Piazza isn’t inducted and down the road the rumors are cleared, the HOF will look bad. It’s like putting an innocent man in prison in a way; you are punishing someone for something they did not do. If the BBWAA does not have concrete evidence about a candidate’s definitive steroid use, they should be voted in. If the BBWAA cannot accurately distinguish the guilty from the innocent, then they need to vote solely on the numbers and throw all allegations out the window during the voting process. The writers need to ask themselves, would they rather put in players that used PEDs or exclude players that might not be guilty of juicing?