I don’t blame Reggie Jackson for being angry at Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds and the other performance-enhancing drug users. I can’t even imagine how bad it feels to watch these guys pass you on baseball’s all-time home run list, knowing that they cheated their way to the top.
But unlike Jackson, I make no distinction between ARod and Andy Pettitte when it comes to PED usage. It’s clear that Jackson would be okay with Pettitte being elected to the Hall of Fame out of an abundance of affection for the lefty, who grew up in the New York Yankees organization. He clearly does not have the same level of affection for ARod.
Some writers may follow that route, voting in favor of good guys like Pettitte while ignoring controversial players such as Bonds and ARod. But I don’t think that’s fair. I’ve always liked Andy Pettitte myself, a lot more than I ever liked ARod, but I still wouldn’t put him in the Hall if I had a vote because he cheated. Affection for the player should not be the deciding factor. The damage they caused to the game by cheating should outweigh everything else.
I do wonder if Jackson is right about Roger Clemens being elected to the Hall of Fame. His eligibility begins next year and he was acquitted of the federal charges filed against him, as Jackson notes. But a court of law and the court of public opinion are two completely different things. Just because he beat the charges doesn’t mean he is innocent. A lot of guilty people beat the system, because of incompetence by the prosecutors, weak evidence or even their likability.
I wonder if the Clemens acquittal will give enough baseball writers cover to vote for him, if they are so inclined. But I suspect that too many writers hold my view, that anyone even linked to PED usage should not get in, which kept Mark McGwire out of the Hall of Fame for years before he even admitted his steroids use.
Jackson will always court controversy because that is just who he is, but I doubt that Major League Baseball will be happy to see such a prominent Hall of Famer talking about an issue that they probably hoped would go away for a while after the Clemens trial. But Jackson has every right to express his belief that the cheaters don’t belong in the Hall. I also hope that the Hall remains free of the PED users and I make no exceptions for anyone, not even Pettitte and his pal.