Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Baseball writers reject PED users

The baseball writers have emphatically rejected the mere notion of putting players caught or suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I was heartened by the flat-out refusal of so many writers to vote for the unholy trinity of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. There are some writers and fans that don’t care at all about PED usage or at least don’t see it as enough of a justification for keeping a player out of the Hall. I respect their opinions even though I disagree completely. It’s obvious that the majority of the writers, tasked with a responsibility none of them wanted, have taken the stance that they need to hold the line to keep these players out of the Hall.

I was pleasantly surprised that the vote totals for the known PED users were so low. I thought they would be around the 50% mark for Bonds and Clemens, but they could only muster support of just over a third of the voting bloc. I never expected Sosa to come anywhere close to election, but his 12.5% was low enough to surprise me. With so many surefire Hall of Famers coming on the ballot in future years, Sosa’s candidacy looks to be extremely short lived and he could fall short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot as early as next year.

The big question is whether the writers stick to their guns in future years. It is entirely possible that many of the voters simply did not want to reward Bonds and Clemens for their behavior and wanted to punish them by making them wait a year. A sizeable number of writers could be inclined to vote for them in 2014. But given the low vote totals, I think Bonds and Clemens will fall short for some time to come, perhaps never reaching that magic 75% threshold.

I do have a problem with voters refusing to vote for players based on suspicion alone, which some experts believe kept Mike Piazza out of the Hall despite his status as the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. I hope that’s not the case and that the vote against Piazza was more about some people thinking he was not a first-ballot guy. Unless some circumstantial or hard evidence surfaces, he deserves to be in the Hall.

I was disappointed that the baseball writers failed to elect some of the more deserving candidates today. But on the known PED users, they got it right. 

Thanks to Jim Accordino via Creative Commons for the Barry Bonds photo and Keith Allison via Wikipedia for the Roger Clemens photo.

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