Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Hypocrisy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

On January 9, the Baseball Hall of Fame chose not to induct a class for 2013. Three of Major League Baseball’s most notorious suspected steroid abusers (Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa) were eligible for the Hall of Fame. While it takes 75% of the votes to be elected, none of the three received more than 38% of the vote. Although none have ever tested positive for Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED), the class of 2013 will forever be referred to as the “steroid class”.
For the self-righteous baseball writers who vote for the Hall of Fame to really prove their point, even Craig Biggio, who would never be accused of using PED’s, only received 68% of the vote. This guilt by association is the height of hypocrisy. After the 1994 strike, which led to cancellation of the World Series, baseball interest was lagging until the exciting 1996 race by Sosa and Mark McGwire upon Roger Maris’s single season home run mark. Major League Baseball ownership and the sportswriters celebrated the home run as the salvation of the sport. When rumors of performance-enhancing drugs were whispered, everyone looked the other way. After the sport was saved by the long ball, the public as well as those in baseball expressed a negative reaction when an arrogant Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron’s all-time home run total.
Should all players be denied membership in the Hall of Fame because of the widespread drug use that was in some extent encouraged by baseball management and the now holier-than-thou sportswriters? Drug usage has always been a part of baseball. From chewing tobacco and alcohol to the amphetamines that were present in most clubhouses during the 1960s and 1970sand rampant cocaine use in the 1980’s, drugs have been a mainstay .
Issues of character (Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa) have certainly been raised when voting for Hall of Famers, yet the voters have certainly condoned much worse by crowning Hall of Fame status  on violent racists such as Ty Cobb.  And what about the issues of race and cheating? Should athletes who played in the first four decades of the twentieth century have their records questioned because they never had to face black pitchers such as Satchel Paige or hitters like Josh Gibson? Although forms of cheating such as stealing signs and doctoring baseballs have always been part of the game, Hall of Fame pitchers Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry were certainly acknowledged for their skills.
The Hall of Fame hypocrisy will always be present, but after a period in purgatory it is likely that a new generation of sportswriters will elevate the “steroid class” to Cooperstown. But, an asterisk could be attached to each name who played during the PED era.



  1. The steroid area was a terrible time for MLB, but it was the same way in football and other sports. You don’t see the NFL keep players out of the Hall of Fame for suspecting steroid use. The reason for this is because they understand that everyone was doing it at this time period in sports. MLB should make a huge deal about drug use and they are doing the proper things to put an end to drugs in MLB. MLB however, needs to accept that steroids were a big part of this time in baseball and not hold it against these players. Fans want to see these great players in the Hall of Fame.

  2. Kudos to the sportswriters! Cheaters have no place in sport. The whining excuse that 'everyone else was doing it' is pure crap! Everyone was not taking performance enhancing drugs and those that were involved simply ruined this era of baseball forever. Let's quit making excuses for those that did not abide by the rules of the game. These cheaters do not deserve a seat in the Baseball HOF.

  3. But the standard has been set by the sportswriters. There are players that already hold spots in the HOF that have admitted to "doctoring baseballs" when they pitched. Many were even caught during their playing careers for this, yet the sportswriters had no problem putting them in the HOF. I alos have a big problem with Pete Rose being left out as a player. Nothing the man did as a player warrants him being left out. Just another example of sports writers who think that they are the "keepers of the game" being self-righteous.

  4. I agree that the standard has been set by sportswriters in previous HOF voting; however, that is not an excuse for continuing to turn a blind-eye to cheating (performance enhancing drugs, doctoring baseballs, etc.). At what point do we draw the line in the sand and take a stand for what is right, true and just? Perhaps the problem with all professional sports is that the 'game' has been forgotten and replaced by a 'business' mentality. I am a huge baseball fan, but I want 'the boys of summer' to play the game with integrity as well as unbridled enthusiasm. PLAY ball!