It’s that time of year again.
The weather is cold, football season is coming to its end, basketball playoff races begin to heat up, but for one day the topic revolves around baseball.
No, it’s not the start of spring training, but a time of celebration turning into a magnification of yelling and disgrace.
It’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame day of course, celebrating the game’s best to ever play being idolized in Cooperstown, well, almost all of them.
Boston Red Sox legend David Ortiz (77.9%), in his first year of eligibility, was the only player to exceed the necessary 75% from the Baseball Writers of America to secure election.
The vote total left all-time stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Curt Schilling as “no’s” from the writers in their 10th and final year on the ballot.
Baseball is unique in that it gets in its own way regarding the game’s storied history.
Constantly reminded as “America’s Pastime,” Major League Baseball has dealt with a steroid crisis for over 25 years, encapsulating the game’s brightest stars in the opposite spotlight of intent.
Schilling is a no-doubt Hall of Famer and should be recognized by the Today’s Game Era Committee in December with no hesitation after telling the writers not to vote for him and preferring the committee as the best solution.
The hate towards Schilling spins from words and actions off the field, aggravating writers and using their only mechanism to fight back with a blank checkbox. The three-time World Series Champion finished only 16 votes shy of induction in 2021.
Bonds and Clemens are in a class of their own, clear-cut Hall of Fame careers before believed steroid use tainted their legacies forever.
Bonds and Clemens are the most complex cases for induction outside of Pete Rose, an entirely different issue as sports betting continues to become more prevalent, but let’s simplify it to two words. They’re jerks.
Bonds has always been known as hard to deal with, spanning back to his 1991 Spring Training fight with Jim Leyland.
The all-time home run king with 762 was a seven-time MVP and 14-time All-Star, Bonds started his career in Pittsburgh with two MVPs before leaving after the 1992 season for San Francisco.
Clemens earned a record seven Cy Young awards and totaled 4,672 strikeouts pitching for the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, and Blue Jays, only behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson.
I personally have been back and forth on Bonds and Clemens’ worthiness in the Hall due to their connections to PED’s. I might now be in the minority on that, but the induction of Ortiz spins the conversation in a new direction.
In a 2009 report from the New York Times and Sports Illustrated, 104 players tested positive during anonymous testing in 2003. The likes of Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, and none other than David Ortiz were included in testing positive for banned substances.
Ortiz never did test positive in the years following when MLB ramped up its testing and forced the issue highlighted by the Mitchell Report, but the premise remains. Ortiz failed a test, Bonds and Clemens did not.
The issue of steroids in the Hall of Fame is not going away and is just now turning over a new page in the most daunting and controversial topic in baseball history.
A-Rod just completed his first year as a candidate, spanning similar results as Bonds and Clemens their first go around.
With Ortiz in, especially on his first ballot, and a few other likely steroid users in the Hall, baseball needs to get it right.
The numerous committees Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, and possibly others will face down the line could be as harsh of critics and likely end the opportunity to see these stars recognized in Cooperstown.
One possible solution, a mixed bag for both sides, is to dedicate a small section of the Hall to Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, A-Rod, Mark McGuire, and others so their careers and achievements are still recognized but not applauded as much as they should be.
A section explaining the connection to steroids as a factoid for all these members but not trying to erase them from history. Baseball still recognizes their records and rejoiced in the summer of 1998 when Sosa and McGuire fought for the home run crown.
Former commissioner Allan “Bud” Selig is in the Hall for his contributions to the game, overseeing baseball throughout the steroid era and a partially tarnished legacy due to the 1994 strike resulting in the cancellation of the World Series.
It’s probably not what either side wants, but there’s is no perfect answer no matter what anyone thinks, only a step in the right direction in between depending on committee votes.
It’s America’s Pastime, all the time, but one that again continues to run into a wall, assess the damage, and then continues to pick up the pieces of America’s once most popular sport.
This poll is closed