Steroids And Cooperstown: Enough Already

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Can we just decide if Barry Bonds is in or out of the Hall of Fame already?Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

By Tyler Maher

With MLB still mired in a lockout, there isn’t much going on in the baseball world these days.

The only thing for us to talk about, it seems, is Hall of Fame voting, as the 2022 BBWAA results will be announced later this month. And as I’m sure you’ve heard, this is one of the most contentious voting cycles in a while.

For starters, this will be the 10th and final time on the BBWAA ballot for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Curt Schilling. While all are worthy of induction based on their numbers alone, none of them are getting in this year. The first three will be denied because of steroid use, while Schilling will fall short because of his dangerous political beliefs and countless controversial statements.

They’re not the only problematic candidates on the ballot, either. Manny Ramirez was a Hall of Fame hitter, but far from a Hall of Fame person. He was caught cheating multiple times during the testing era and will not be taking the stage at Cooperstown anytime soon, as a majority of voters continue to leave him off their ballots.

Like Ramirez, Gary Sheffield was one of the most feared hitters and polarizing figures of his era. While his support is growing, his suspected steroid use and constant team-switching have prevented his career from getting the recognition it deserves. 

Omar Vizquel appeared to be on the path to Cooperstown just a few years ago, but recent accusations of domestic violence and sexual harassment have torpedoed his candidacy. Based on the public ballots released thus far, he may struggle to get the 5% needed to stay on the ballot.

And then there’s Alex Rodriguez, a newcomer to the ballot this year. He was one of the best all-around players ever, but his constant cheating and off-the-field antics will likely keep him out of Cooperstown for a long, long time.

Even the beloved David Ortiz isn’t without his faults. His name was leaked as one of the players who failed an anonymous drug test in 2003, which also happened to be the year that his career took off in Boston. While the validity of those results has been challenged, the mere presence of them (as well as his time at DH) may delay his induction a bit.

Except for Vizquel – who didn’t do enough with the stick in my eyes – I’d vote for all of these guys. They were among the best, most famous players of their generation, and that’s all I really care about when it comes to the Hall of Fame. I’m not interested in playing the morality police, especially when it comes to the highly speculative nature of the steroid era.

It saddens me, however, that this is what the Hall of Fame has become; annual discussions about steroid use (real and imagined), cheating, nasty tweets, character flaws, and off-the-field transgressions. It sucks up so much oxygen that we don’t get to do enough of the stuff that makes the Hall of Fame fun, like comparing players to their peers and all-time greats to see how they measure up.

It’s been 15 years since Mark McGwire debuted on the ballot and we started talking about steroids and the Hall of Fame in earnest. I grew sick of it a long time ago, but with Rodriguez and Ortiz joining the ballot, something tells me we’ll still be talking about it for years to come.

Tyler Maher is a Content Editor for The Game Day who is sick of talking about steroids and the Hall of Fame.

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