“Hall of Fame-Admit Hall of Shame People?”
They open the doors to more of baseball’s greats in Cooperstown tonight, when the Hall of Fame Class of 2017 is introduced.
Modern day stars like Jeff Bagwell, a lifetime (.297) hitter with 494-career home runs in Houston, seems like a slam dunk.
So does Montreal Expos icon Tim Raines, a (.294) hitter who had (808) stolen bases in a great career.
The Padres Trevor Hoffman is on the brink also, the first ever reliever to get to the 600-saves mark, finishing with (601).
But the discussion points all day today, and certainly tomorrow, will swirl around Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Indicted and sued for illegal PED use, Bonds wound up in a perjury trial. The same for Clemens, for his lies infront of Congress.
Neither was convicted because of technicalities, but in the court of public opinion, their life time accomplishments were fueled by syringe needles.
Bonds broke the single season home run record, hitting 73, surpassing Mark McGuire. Bonds never admitted to steroid use, though every piece of evidence exists he did, and a positive drug test exists. At least McGuire admitted he did steroids to help heal injuries, early in his career.
Bonds career record of 762 homers and his (.298) batting average are held in dispute for all the did with the Giants. You think of Bonds, and you think of his Balco trainer, Greg Anderson, pinpointed as a drug dealer.
Clemens won the Cy Young award 7-times, and his (354-184) record of accomplishments, all seem tainted too. You mention Clemens, and sleazy trainer Brian McNamee, syringes and gauze pads, all come to mind.
McGuire never got into the Hall. Rafael Palmiero left baseball with all those home runs, but in disgrace for lying about postive tests. Sammy Sosa, who dueled McGuire in home run derby years, has never gotten votes.
There is much screeching today that Commissioner Bud Selig will be inducted next summer. He did many great things on behalf of the game, but the steamy collusion lawsuit and the lack of drug testing were also part of his era.
Of course, Donald Fehr and the union blocked drug testing for years upon years, so this was not all on Selig. But he could have fought a better fight, and he didn’t.
So today’s vote totals will come with drama, and there will be spillover. The Hall of Fame rules about eligibility mention the words “integrity, sportsmanship and character”. Can you mention those words in the same sentence as Bonds and Clemens names?
But if we connect the dots, you have to ask about other Hall of Famers.
Tony LaRussa got in for his accomplishments as a manger, and he obviously looked the other way during the eras of the Bash Brothers (Canseco-McGuire-Giambi) in Oakland and then with Big Mac in St. Louis.
Ty Cobb was a a scoundrel and a cheat. Cap Anson was a racist. Babe Ruth was a womanizer. Hack Wilson was a drunk.
But the social styles of those did not impact the integrity of the game, but rather how they lived and acted.
Bonds and Clemens did things that changed the game, impacted the outcomes. If they had bought steroids and PED’s on street corners, they would have been arrested. Just because they shot up in hotel rooms, locker-rooms, or in gyms, does not make it right.
Bats and balls and gloves earn players the right to enter Cooperstown. Syringes, viles, creams do not.
The basball record book is the bible of our game. Baseball history is so important to this game. Bonds and Clemens forever stained the pages of the record books.
They should never be allowed to have their names, faces, stats on a plaque in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.