The Hall of Fame class of 2017 will be revealed today, and it is possible that the first Washington Nationals player could be elected in the Hall of Fame if Ivan Rodriguez receives the needed votes. In addition, two very popular former Expos could also join Rodriguez in making it.
Few things in baseball lead to more debate than voting. We all saw what happened when Justin Verlander lost the Cy Young award to Rick Porcello – fiancé Kate Upton kind of lost her stuff on Twitter. That’s part of the beauty about the voting system, right? Everything leads to more discussion. Hall of Fame voting is no different, especially in the age of PEDs. Right now, guys who played during the steroid heyday are up for Hall of Fame consideration, and it’s caused quite the stir.
I watch a tremendous amount of MLB Network (I… maybe have a bit of baseball addiction. What? It’s not like it’s heroin.), and they have run a show numerous times debating this year’s potential HoF class. The start of Insider’s View “Hall of Fame” begins with a discussion about how steroid users should be viewed when it comes to voting. Ken Rosenthal, who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, states he has recently begun to shift his opinion on PED users in the HoF. With the inclusion of some steroid users, he feels it now becomes a “fairness issue,” and you cannot keep other users out. He questions how you can draw the line for some users, but not others.
With all due respect, Mr. Rosenthal, I wildly disagree.
Rule 5 of the BBWAA election rules states:
Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
This to me says that any steroid user should be barred from HoF election. Use of performance enhancing drugs demonstrates a clear lack of integrity, poor sportsmanship, and incredibly questionable character in my opinion. A man of integrity does not cheat the system. A man with good sportsmanship does not give himself an unfair advantage over the competition. A man of character knows that “everyone else is doing it” is not a valid excuse. And the wrong of allowing some cheaters into the HoF does not make it right to allow others. Sorry, Ken Rosenthal. I love you, but I can’t get behind your argument here.
This is such a cut and dry issue to me that I’m a little shocked that there is so much debate. The HoF is supposed to represent the best of the best. It’s an elite club of shining career-long achievement and greatness. Cheaters are anything but the best, and are anything but shining examples of greatness. I conducted an extremely valid, very scientific poll that consisted of asking the friend sitting next to me and some friends who were active on facebook messenger, and I was surprised to see answers all over the board. Two friends told me it was way too late at night to have a discussion of this level, as it made their brains hurt.
So, let’s break this down into different categories of steroid users.
I literally don’t understand why he is even up for consideration. We’ll ignore his loafing defensive play for the sake of this and focus just on PEDs. You seriously have got to be kidding me. He tested positive for a female hormone that he took to mask steroid use. Then after that, he tested positive for steroids and was suspended for 100 games. He chose to retire instead. Just no.
These guys used in my opinion. That’s my opinion. You know it, don’t you? I know it. People who live under a rock know it. But for some reason, they continue to fight the allegations. This puts them into a whole new category of awful to me. Man up and at least own it like Mark McGwire did. But instead, they may have cheated, and then lied (and lied and lied and lied) about it. The worst of the worst. There was some division amongst my friends in my poll here, though. If they had votes, Bonds would have gotten one. My friend’s argument was the one I most commonly hear – Bonds was great without the steroids, so he should be let in based on that. I have to throw my BS flag on this logic. First, we don’t actually know what he would have done over an entire career without the steroids. Second, I don’t think you can ignore the cheating simply because of his pre-cheating skill. Talent is not an excuse for poor character.
These guys all fall into the same group to me. They’re guys who are widely speculated to have used. They’re guys who have either been named in reports, by other players, or have finally admitted to use. The speculation is so strong for guys like this that I would have no trouble denying all of them entry based on the idea of where there’s smoke, there’s fire. McGwire, who has finally fallen off the ballot, and Piazza eventually both admitted to using the same substance, an OTC drug that was available at GNC and similar stores. The admission of using this one substance does not mean they didn’t use others that required a prescription. And, even if this was the only substance, it was a known PED, and it was cheating.
As such, Piazza does not belong in the HoF in my opinion even though he is in. This is where Rosenthal’s argument comes into play. He doesn’t understand how you draw the line against McGwire, but allow Piazza in. In his mind, now everyone with the career numbers should be in since the gates have been opened. Sosa is also strongly connected to steroid use. In addition to that, he was caught cheating with a corked bat. Two separate forms of cheating. Bravo, Sosa. Likewise, Pudge is strongly connected to steroid use. He was an amazing defensive catcher, and use wouldn’t have impacted or enhanced that part of his game, but that’s irrelevant to me. He’s a tainted player. This group of guys had my friends all over the board. They would vote for some, but not others, and there wasn’t a clear reasoning as to why. It seemed more based on an overall feeling that they couldn’t quantify. For me, it’s a clear no for all of them.
Sheffield represents another common argument. He eventually admitted to PED use, but stated he was unaware that what he was using was a PED. Gonna have to throw my BS flag again. And even if I bought that he didn’t know, I don’t give him a pass. Everyone should be aware of what they’re putting into their bodies. You’re taking it, it’s your responsibility to know wtf it is. A regular person doesn’t get a pass on using meth by stating they were unaware that it was meth, so why should an athlete get a pass for the same excuse? My friends agreed that they felt the excuse was BS, however it didn’t seem to sway their voting. While not specifically applied to Sheffield, my friends still voted on the same general unquantifiable feeling they used with the last group of guys.
While this is an incredibly black and white issue to me, a quick chat with some friends showed that it is filled with lots of gray areas to others. The easy solution would be for the HoF to step in and make rules regarding steroid usage moving forward, but they seem content to allow the BBWAA to vote based on guidelines that are open to a lot interpretation.
If I could make an appeal to the voting writers, it would be to ask them to uphold the integrity of baseball and not reward players who knowingly cheated the system, and for them to not allow the black pox of steroids to move from the game into the Hall of Fame that celebrates and immortalizes the game’s best.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) January 18, 2017