Let’s ignore the history of steroids and performance enhancing drugs in baseball, which goes back way longer than you might realize.
Instead let’s just get to the point: If the late ’80s through the mid-2000s are to be regarded as baseball’s “steroid age,” then there is plainly no good reason to keep the poster boys of that era out of the game’s ultimate museum, the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. These were some of the biggest stars of their times. McGwire and Sosa’s epic 1998 home run race arguably saved the sport. Bonds holds the all-time record for home runs. Ever. His entry into the Hall shouldn’t be a debate.
The sanctimonious Baseball Writers’ Association of America deserves all the embarrassment it can stand and much more if it’s going to engage in straight-up censorship of the game’s history. I don’t much care, personally, whether athletes are taking PEDs. But even if I give you the benefit of the doubt, and tell you fine, it’s a great evil, the era of ballooning players ought to be remembered all the same. Far greater atrocities have been commemorated — without being celebrated — than some millionaires with needles in their asses.
Perhaps the argument is that election to the Hall is indeed inherently an honor. Maybe it is. But even if you deeply object to the use of PEDs, so what if the cost of preserving the sport’s history is that a few players get to make a speech and some majestic music is played in their honor during their induction ceremony? Everybody will remember them for the era they played in — and that they weren’t innocent in it. But more importantly, they’ll remember them for being the best of that era, and that’s what the Hall of Fame exists for.
photo credit: Kevin Rushforth, Creative Commons/flickr