“Hall of Fame…2nd Chance…Last Chance”
Baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and its ballot, are back infront of the fans, the media, the decision makers again this weekend.
We are going back to where we spent the last 10-years, trying to determine whether or not to put ‘cheaters’ into Cooperstown.
As the Winter Meeting unfold here in San Diego on Monday, in conference rooms upstairs at Seaport Village, , the newly formed Contemporary Committee of the Hall will meet to review and vote on 8-candidates who are part of this year’s list of veteran eligible players.
These are players who spent 10-years on the Hall of Fame ballot but did not make it.
There are great veteran players coming off great careers like Fred McGriff and Curt Schilling, who were very close to getting in, but did not make it in the ten years they were available to be voted in.
But also on the list, are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Ralf Palmiero, the three controversial superstars, who put up staggering statistics, but were implicated in the steroid scandals.
Over that decade period, they failed to caputre the required 75% vote and were taken off the regular ballot last winter. They resurface now as first time candidates on the new Veterans Committee list.
But the issues remain the same. The three were disgraced in the Mitchell Report. Implicated in congressional hearings or in trials. Eventually blackballed from the game once they left the game.
Bonds, Clemens, and Palmiero were dragged thru the Balco Trial, the Mitchell Report, or in Washington DC-hearings, implicated with evidence and testimony they took steroids, covered it up, convicted only in the court of public opinion, but not by baseball
Now when you think of those three, what comes to mind? The Clear, the Cream, Needles, Injections and denials or lies .
What’s the first thing you think of now about them? Not Bonds (.298) career average, the 73-home run season, the 762-home runs hit. Not Clemens’ (354) win or the (4,672) strikeouts. Surely not Palmiero’s (569) home run totals.
I flash back and see a Bonds condescending attitude, a Clemens sneer, and Palmpiero pointing his finger at Congress in denial.
An interesting sidebar story also is the fact that this special committee is made up of Hall of Famers, Baseball Execs and select writers, will make this decision. It’s not the vote of the entire cadre of MLB-baseball writers who decide on the regular Hall ballot.
These are players who earned their way into the Hall, Frank Thomas, Ryne Sandberg, Jack Morris, Chipper Jones, plus a group of Baseball Front office people, many of whom have been outspoken about baseball’s cheats over the years.
How do they decide? What do you want them to decide? A plaque with an *asterisk? A plaque with their stats? A plaque with a black ribbon?
How do you match their sins against the faults of those already in? Drunks, Womanizers. Racists. Perfect players, not perfect people.
But these issues have to do with the integrity of the game and maybe that is the line that is drawn in the sand.
So we are back to dealing with greatness-vs-goodness, accomplishment-vs-integrity. Do we put these players in Cooperstown, where their memorabilia is already, or do we continue to refuse because there is a black mark next to their statistics and accomplishments?.
Interesting meetings start Sunday. A storyline, a vote that won’t go away, but will be decided shortly.