Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Keep the drug cheats out of Baseball Hall of Fame

The next candidates for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be officially announced today, but we already have a good idea of who will make the list. Whether the drug cheats who will appear on the ballot are worthy of induction is another question that for many is difficult to answer, but for me is a no brainer.

I have long argued that baseball players linked to performance-enhancing drugs should not be allowed into the Hall. My position has not changed. But it will be tested for many of the baseball writers now that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will be on the ballot. There will be some writers who will attempt to separate their supposedly clean years when they started to build their Hall of Fame credentials from the latter years of their careers when they were linked to steroids or human growth hormone. That to me is a futile exercise so I have a hard-and-fast rule: if you cheated, you’re out.

That rule has allowed me to draw an unmovable line in the sand, even with players that I have had a great deal of affection for in the past such as Andy Pettitte (whose apparent decision to return for another year is great news for the New York Yankees). Pettitte, to his credit, admitted that he cheated and will likely be kept out of the Hall, even though his career postseason stats build a solid case for induction. I suspect Pettitte will receive a respectable number of votes given his resume and general likeability, but he will fall far short of the Hall of Fame, as he should.

But Pettitte’s probable return means he won’t even be on the ballot for five years after he decides to retire for good so his candidacy can be debated in future years. The writers will face the more immediate test on Bonds, Clemens and some of their contemporaries. There will be a lot of outside pressure from those who believe that rejecting such dominant players would make the Hall selection process a farce, but I hope the writers stick to their guns and keep the drug cheats out.   
Thanks to Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the Clemens photo.

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