Steroid Debate Still Prevalent
We send congratulations to third baseman Chipper Jones, outfielder Vlad Guerrero, first baseman Jim Thome and pitcher Trevor Hoffman on their election to baseball’s Hall of Fame. It’s a deserving quartet that will join Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were previously chosen by the Modern Era committee for enshrinement.
Jones is my favorite of the group. Nineteen seasons, all with the Atlanta Braves. The overall No. 1 pick in the amateur draft. Eight times an All-Star, once an MVP, with a .303 career batting average and 468 home runs (and he was a switch hitter).
You’ll hear a few quibbles. Guerrero’s best years were packed together and perhaps the entire body of his work is not quite Hall-ish. Hoffman, second all-time in saves, is a relief pitcher and some fans just don’t see the value (unless the discussion turns to Mariano Rivera, who is eligible next year).
But the Hall of Fame is already without Pete Rose, the game’s all-time leader in hits, because of his ban and his sordid gambling history. And again it remains without seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and home-run king Barry Bonds, due to the cloud of performance-enhancing drugs that hovers endlessly above them.
If there is good news for them, it is that newer voters hold their offenses against them less than long-time ballot holders, and both got a slight bump upwards this year. If there is bad news, it is the backlash from the election of former commissioner Bud Selig a year ago. He oversaw the era of steroids with no vision or forethought, and in effect saved a fading game by allowing pumped-up sluggers to hit ridiculous numbers of home runs.
His presence hardens some views, but the folks who voted him in are still voting, so why the double standard?
We will never know how many players, Hall of Famers and otherwise, ingested a variety of substances to stay available and reliable before Major League Baseball instituted testing. We know the ones who were caught. Your Friendly Neighborhood Blog is okay without Clemens and Bonds for now, but suspects one day they will be enshrined, if not forgiven.
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