From 1986-1998 Barry Bonds has numbers that are undeniably in favor of his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame (HOF). All of his achievements may be under a cloud of doubt and accusation, but he has been on the shortlist for being inducted for many years now. There are many varying opinions about whether or not he or any player who has used any forms of steroids should be allowed into the Hall of Fame.
Since sports has been around, the competitive nature of athletes has continually been pushed to the brink and, at times, even further. As the game has evolved, so has the need for the players to continually outdo their personal bests. Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) are widely considered to be “cheating” in the world of sports. Most people consider cheating “un-American” which might pose a problem for the sport that is considered to be America’s pastime. This leads to the question should players who have been caught using steroids be allowed into the Baseball HOF?
According to Baseballhall.org, Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) members earn a Hall of Fame vote from its organization, which is independent of the Hall of Fame, by maintaining 10 consecutive years on a baseball beat. Those Hall of Fame eligible voters are required to complete a registration form and sign a code of conduct.
Some are not sure the same conclusion can be reached for people during the steroids era of Major League Baseball. The period has been deemed the start of being a known problem in 1991. This was the year when commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to all teams in the league saying that steroid use was now against the rules. Although this memo was out, there was no official rule change. Although this is considered the start of the era, steroids have been used as a performance-enhancer since to beginning of the major leagues. According to Robert Smith from National Public Radio, back in 1889, players would use a testosterone supplement that was derived from animal testicles for a better performance.
It is utterly impossible to know precisely what percentage of MLB players have used any form of performance-enhancing substance. Steroids didn’t make the baseball banned substance list until 1991, and testing didn’t start until the 2003 season. Apparently, something caused the MLB to have a clear and definite stand on steroids and that they are no longer being tolerated by the league.
Players who are well known to both baseball novice and aficionados alike, for example, Ken Caminiti, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Alex Rodrigues. Sadly, the list is extensive.
One has to question, if steroids have been around for such a long time, and used in the major leagues, why the sudden attention? Instead of removing these players from the Hall of Fame running or the game altogether. What if there are two separate leagues and voting. There could be a league where all the players are like Barry Bonds, and A-Rod (great idea, isn’t it?) and then another league where everyone plays fair. It would be the same with the Hall of Fame voting, there can be a specific section of the Hall of Fame, dedicated to those who were great due to their use of steroids, and then the original HOF.
Everyone’s happy, right? You would be wrong. Of course, there are people who have a very strong opinion on players who have been tested and are known steroids users being allowed to be inducted in the HOF, there are also very strong opinions on the opposite end of it as well. There are also some voters who need a more varying opinion. “Well, I think it’s more complicated than a single answer; I think you have to take it on a case by case basis,” said Joe Posnanski, national columnist for MLB.com. “Clearly, I think you have to take a positive drug test into account. Does it automatically disqualify the player from the Hall of Fame? In my opinion, it should not. It really depends.” He is not alone in thinking that these needs to be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Evan Grant sports columnist for the Dallas News, has just recently thought of a different way to think about this controversial issue, when filling out his ballot. “To simply put it, I am as close as I have ever been, I think everyone has their inherent biases, and their inherent personal feelings that they may never be able to completely shed, but I think that when I was willing to vote for Bonds and Clemens, I was able to make peace in my mind that I am as close as I have been to just let the statistics speak for my ballot.”
For the first time, Joe Morgan vice chairman of the HOF sent out and email to all voting members of the BBWAA urging them to not vote for players who are known to be steroids consumers. In his letter, Morgan wrote, “I think the Hall of Fame is special. There is a sanctity to being elected to the Hall. It is revered. It is the hardest Hall of Fame to enter, of any sport in America. But times change, and a day we all knew was coming has now arrived. Players who played during the steroid era have become eligible for entry into the Hall of Fame.”
This letter received quite a buzz not only with the voting members, but also in the sporting world in general. This is the first time anything like this has ever been brought the full attention of the voters. Many voters are now abstaining from their vote because they do not believe that the HOF should be able to make a stance on this topic. “No. I don’t. I think there are some in the BBWAA who feel the same way, many who do not, and a majority who might share some of his feelings but not others,” Posnanski said. “But I do think many Hall of Famers agree with him.