Sunday, December 2, 2012

Drug cheats will likely miss out on Hall of Fame

Those of us who do not want performance-enhancing drug users to darken the doorstep of the Baseball Hall of Fame apparently have reason to be optimistic about the 2013 voting.

A rather intensive survey by the Associated Press (apparently more thorough than this year’s election polling) demonstrates that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all linked to the use of PEDs in some way, likely have no chance of induction into the Hall this year.

I never expected Sosa to have a real chance at first-ballot induction. Sosa was a one-trick pony (even his hometown baseball writers refuse to vote for him) and that trick was up as soon as he was definitively linked to steroids by the New York Times. But I thought there was a slim chance enough writers would overlook the misdeeds of Bonds and Clemens and focus on their earlier careers, which some argue were Hall of Fame-worthy even before they even turned to drugs. I often want to ask people who make that argument how they know that Bonds and Clemens weren’t dirty, cheating in some form or another, back then. When it comes to those two, they have not earned the benefit of the doubt.

The survey does leave open the possibility of future induction, particularly for Bonds and Clemens, as some writers will simply punish the two by not voting for them on the first ballot. But that’s a question for another day, one that will be debated endlessly if they fail to score the first time around.

But Bill Madden today makes an excellent argument that the debate over the PED cheaters is overshadowing truly deserving Hall candidates such as Jack Morris and Craig Biggio. I was disappointed that Morris, the epitome of a big-game pitcher, did not get in last year, partly because of the anti-induction campaign launched by the stat geeks against his candidacy. But he got just shy of 67% in 2012, which bodes well for his chances in this round of balloting. I’d be surprised if Biggio, with his 3,000+ hits doesn’t make it in, although he could be hurt by voters who don’t believe he is worthy of first-ballot induction. If that’s the case, expect him to come really close in the balloting this year, which sets him up for election in 2014.  

So I won’t just be rooting against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa. I will be cheering hard for Morris and Biggio. Let these two deserving candidates in, writers!
Thanks to Wjmummert via Wikipedia for the Sosa photo.

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