The 2013 Baseball Hall of Fame class will consist solely of those inducted by the pre-integration committee, which will quite a few people. The BBWAA, on the other hand, didn’t induct one person, resulting the first HOF shutout since 1996, and the second in 42 years. In most years, this may have caused a light controversy, but this year, the first that the Hall was truly faced with the specter of performance enhancing drugs in baseball. A two-hour roundtable discussion, hosted by big time baseball fan Bob Costas, argued the issue incessantly, seemingly waiting for the cows to come home, but gave up. Ultimately, the issue was resolved for 2013, but feels unresolved on the whole.
The lack of resolution comes because whilst the poster boys of the steroids era, which I no longer put in quotes because I do feel like it’s appropriate, are on the ballot this year, and likely will remain there for at least five years, there are still plenty to come. The writers are doubtless looking at the crop over the next three to four years, and finding which ones they will vote for. Some, by virtue of those associated with PEDs on the ballot, are near shoe-ins, and we could see record numbers of first-balloters over the next few years to combat those associated with cheating in the game.
However, lest we forget the following: even though Bonds and Clemens feel short of the necessary threshold, they still received near forty percent each. Other writers, who feel strongly that those associated with PEDs shouldn’t be in the fall, are doubtless pissed that others wasted their votes on supposed cheaters, at the expense of Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, and others who came up short by under ten percent, which might not have happened if the writers all agreed on PEDs.
I feel, though, that this will not be as big an issue as others do. After all, anyone who was clean prior to 2004, when drug testing was introduced, and tested positive afterwards, was sentenced, and had the full right of appeal before that sentence was put into effect. A few writers have actively acknowledged this, and it makes total sense. You are no longer suspected of using PEDs, rather you were caught, you had due process, and were either exonerated or not. For many baseball writers, including some hawks that despise Bonds and others who are suspected strongly, this does provide a way out to vote for those who were caught in the web that MLB and the union agreed to.
For this year, though, the writers should have inducted Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, and Craig Biggio; Mike Piazza should have gotten above sixty percent, and quite frankly, even if it detracted from Bonds and Clemens, who I felt were not worthy of being first-ballot Hall of Famers for character reasons anyway, someone should have received a phone call. It was the ultimate chance for the writers to say, “we’re going to reward those who played the game the right way,” and they blew it. They messed up the ultimate chance to send a message to young people this year. The message they did send is that if you played in the 1990s, then you are suspected of cheating, by sheer association with that decade, and that’s not fair to the guys who didn’t cheat.
Good job, writers. Is it any wonder fans get disillusioned with the process of induction, when the writers cannot get it together?