Should PED Users Be Voted into Cooperstown?
Wednesday, baseball elected no one to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. The biggest question that was raised for the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWCA), was should it let performance enhancing drug (PED) users like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, or Rafael Palmeiro be elected into the baseball Hall of Fame?
It’s a question that will appear for the BBWAA for 14 more years, and it’s only going to get tougher as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Mike Mussina, Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz become eligible the next two years. So, should PED users be allowed entrance into baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame in Cooperstown?
Whether Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, or Palmeiro were alleged, rumored, or admitted to taking PEDs, these players may have ruined the integrity and credibility of baseball and its records, but they single handily rewrote the record books.
Let’s break down the two arguments.
First, why should PED users be left out of the Hall of Fame?
A member of the Hall of Fame’s character is supposed to reflect the integrity of the game. A MLB player is supposed to abide by the rules of sportsmanship and display an equal and fair advantage to the rest of Major League Baseball.
If Shoeless Joe Jackson, a career .356 hitter, and Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader are left out of the Hall of Fame because they bet on games, then why should a PED user be let in? A PED user used drugs to enhance their ability to prevent injuries, and gave them an unfair advantage over other MLB players and the players that have come from the past.
Ken Caminiti, said in a Sports Illustrated article in 2002 that steroids do make a difference.
“It’s still a hand-eye coordination game, but the difference [with steroids] is the ball is going to go a little farther. Some of the balls that would go to the warning track will go out. That’s the difference. My body was torn up and broken down but it felt good [on steroids]. I felt like a kid. I was running better. I’d be running the bases and think, ‘Man, I’m fast!’ And I had never been that fast. But I was. Steroids made me like that.”
By not letting PED users into the Hall of Fame, baseball is setting a standard for future baseball players and for younger generations, showing that using PEDs isn’t tolerated and is unfair to the competitive nature of the game.
Yes, baseball is a game where records are cherished and are meant to be broken, but the records made by Roger Maris, Babe Ruth, and Hank Aaron were meant to be broken by players that used their God-given gifts and talents. There records weren’t made to be broken by players that used drugs that made them hit a ball farther into McCovey Cove.
By saying no to Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, and Palmeiro, the MLB is sending the right message to kids and fans of the game by saying you can be a successful baseball player and get into the Hall of Fame by hard work.
So, if baseball wants the integrity of the game to be upheld, then not letting PED users into the Hall of Fame is the right call.
Second, why should PED users be let into the Hall of Fame?
Let’s look at the statistics of these ballplayers:
- Barry Bonds, is the all-time home run leader with 762, and single-season leader with 72 home runs.
- Roger Clemens has 354 wins, seven Cy Young Awards, and two 20 strikeout games.
- Sammy Sosa broke Roger Maris’ record, (66 home runs), is the only slugger to smack more than 60 home runs in three seasons, and has 609 career home runs.
- Mark McGwire initially broke the single-season record of home runs (70).
- Rafael Palmeiro has 3,020 hits and 569 home runs.
Not letting Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, or Palmeiro means baseball is essentially erasing the 1990’s baseball era. The 1990’s were some of the best years of baseball’s history.
Especially, as a fan and a child, I loved watching Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, or Palmeiro. Every day in 1998, I couldn’t wait to watch or see if McGwire or Sosa would be up in the home run race.
If baseball wants to prevent these players from entering Cooperstown, it’s like erasing history. Imagine taking your future children to Cooperstown, and they ask, “Daddy, what happened in the 1990’s?”
I witnessed these ballplayers with my own eyes. I saw them make history. America did too. I want to be able to show and tell my son or daughter how Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Clemens, and Palmeiro changed baseball and made history, even if it has to have an asterisk by their name in Cooperstown.
Jayson Stark and Bill Simmons put it best in their columns on ESPN saying that baseball’s Hall of Fame is a museum. Isn’t baseball and sports supposed to preserve their history, anyway?
Wednesday was a sad day for the sport, and I think the BBWAA writers need to look at themselves in the mirror and ask, “I loved covering these guys’ accomplishments when they were playing, so why is it any different, now?”
The issue isn’t going to go away and it is only going to get bigger.
The decision could change baseball forever.
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