Baseball writers in 2014 should rethink their position on condemning players from entry into the Hall of Fame because of steroids.
If players like Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds did not have super-sized seasons from 1998 to 2002, major league baseball would be dead.
Via their unions, Major League Baseball players shamefully went on strike in 1994. They wanted more benefits and money. For people who are being paid multi-millions of dollars to throw and hit balls, that’s obscene in itself. The Majors were ready to bring up minor league players to replace millionaire starters until they reached an agreement. But it left a stench of greed in its wake. Fans reacted with boycotts and disinterest, causing the money pool for baseball, including television receipts, to diminish. Baseball was in serious trouble.
Along came Mark McGuire and others. Already in his 9th year, McGuire had posted home run numbers at a rate equivalent to Mickey Mantle. In 1989, He set a rookie record hitting 49 homers. Another two times before the steroid era, he hit over 50. McGuire was headed for the Hall of Fame.
In his first twelve years in baseball, Roger Clemens’ set Herculean records, ultimately winning seven Cy Young Awards, five of them prior to 1998.
Barry Bonds also posted numbers that were on track for the great Hall before the steroid era started.
It’s good that the system has since been cleaned up. However, prior to the scandal becoming public, most ball players will admit it had become a common endeavor for players using enhancement drugs, because it had become the “in thing.” The managers and coaches are just as guilty because they had to have known about the enhancements but turned a blind eye. If one team did it, they all had to do it to remain competitive. We cast shame upon the big names because they are best known, but everyone was guilty.
Now, the holier-than-thou moralists among the baseball writers have imposed punishment upon players who did what players did in an era where it was commonplace. Sure, they may have hit a few extra homers and struck out a few more batters, but these guys were already exceptional long before 1998.
Rather than punish, these men should be given a gigantic vote of thanks for resuscitating a sport that was on the decline in fans, attendance, respect and money.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is about just that: Fame. It is a tribute to those who stood above average players by doing more and better. When did the Hall morph into a shrine for moral values?
Babe Ruth was a notorious womanizing, beer drinking philanderer, yet he is worshipped to this day as a great player. Ty Cobb was a known racist. There are other enshrined baseball players who were drug addicts. Turn to football, and we’ll see convicted felon, inmate, O.J. Simpson in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Thanks to these players, baseball is thriving and so are the sports writers who rely on the excitement they provided. So let’s stop the hypocrisy in 2014 and enshrine players like Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling.
And while we’re at it, it’s time to induct Pete Rose, among the all-time greats. This is another player who baseball can thank for selling multi-millions in tickets and television commercials during his 24 years with the Reds, Expos and the Phillies. Rose’s gargantuan contribution to the sport can be summed up, not only in his famous Charlie Hustle, he holds more than two dozen Major League records, including of all things, most hits (5,256) and games played (3,562.) How can that be ignored?
Rose’s guilt lay in betting on baseball games while he was a manager, though he denies ever betting on his own team. But that has nothing to do with his player credentials. Rose has paid for his sins. It’s time to forgive and induct him, and all players, who deserve the recognition.
They earned it.