If you've ever been to Cooperstown, home to baseball's Hall of Fame, you know it is a fantastic place to visit with your family and relive a bit of American history as well as your favorite memories of the game. Looking at the plaques for greats such as Babe Ruth, Hank Williams, Nolan Ryan, Carlton Fisk, etc is truly awesome.
Photo by Dougtone via Flickr
But the relevance of the Hall of Fame is coming under fire, especially after Wednesday's vote by the Baseball Writers' Association of America failed to elect any new players for only the second time in four decades.
All-time home run leader Barry Bonds, seven-time Cy Young winner Roger Clemens and record-setting hitter Sammy Sosa were all denied entry - presumably because their performances may have been tainted by banned substances The three players were all eligible for the first time and have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.
"It is unimaginable that the best player to ever play the game would not be a unanimous first-ballot selection," said Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hills Sports Council, Bonds' longtime agent.
Really? It might not be fair, but hardly unimaginable. Why would the Hall of Fame want an alleged cheater among itsranks? Especially the guy who is the poster child for steroid abuse in MLB.
Bond, Clemens and Sosa are Hall of Famers by any statistical measure. But the fact is, their numbers are bloated by suspicions of performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs. Clemens was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.
Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
Steroids may have improved their performance, but no one knows by how much and if they were truly using. It's a complex, multi-layered issue, with no guidelines on how to treat the 'Steroid Era." For the time-being, the solution seems to be erasing it through non-votes as the BBWAA did today.
If guys like Bonds and Clemens ever do get into the Hall of Fame, what does that say to young fans? If your kids ask about these players, what will you say? And if they wonder how suspected cheaters could ever receive such a huge honor, how will you respond? Should there be an asterick on their plaques as part of a public narrative about their careers? .And what about players who, in retrospect, were penalized by not taking steroids? Guys who had great records, without using PEDs, but who didn't get a pass into the Hall of Fame.
The thing is, cheating in just about every sport, is rampant. Where do we draw the line? Maybe Bonds, Clemens and others should join Lance Armstrong on Oprah's couch and come clean.
dare to dream
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