Hall of Fame voters should put away their halos and let them in.
Believe me, as a Mets fan, I have several reasons to despise each of these athletes – and I do – but I think you must let them in the Hall. Here’s why. Remember that flimsy justification for experimenting with drugs, booze or even playing Trivial Pursuit – “Everyone’s doing it” – well in this case it’s not flimsy—it’s legit.
Mind you I’m not excusing the use of performance enhancing drugs, or anything on the banned substance list. But to isolate these three players and make them poster boys for a generation of cheating baseball players is petty, small, and immoral
It’s like this: Remember when A-Rod was unfairly singled out for being on a list of players who tested positive? Yeah, he was one of more than a hundred such players. About 1 in 7 tested positive. Surely more athletes were using PEDs and did not get caught. While I understand this is not “everyone” and the majority of players may have been clean, you would need a CSI team and several dozen Ouija boards to make sense of the crime scene that was 30 baseball diamonds.
Now if that list was made public and we could know all of the names, then we can start to draw a black-and-white justification. But that won’t happen, and as I’ve mentioned, many others were surely using illegal substances and didn’t get caught.
It truly was (is) the era of steroids in the great American game. Maybe there was an era of corked bats; maybe most pitchers were like (Hall of Famer) Gaylord Perry; do we really know what Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth put into their bodies the morning after a bender that allowed them to smash two homeruns and drive in a half-dozen teammates on a sunny day? Until then, comparing any era of baseball is an apples and oranges comparison. (Or steroids and amphetamines comparison).
I do feel bad for the major league stars that never were. Trust me, I’ve watched enough Cape Cod league games to know and appreciate the value of working hard to improve your craft to get to the next level. There are surely Moonlight Grahams as a result of the steroid era. And that is the biggest loss – both that some truly gifted athletes didn’t make it because they tried hard, and that many did make it because they cheated at every level.
But the truth is we do not care. We are not interested in a 2-1 pitching duel on a cold autumn day in a National League park. Give us the 12-9 American League slugfest. We are impatient Americans who hate our bosses, don’t make enough money, and want to sit down with a Bud Light and watch Miguel Cabrera absolutely punish a hanging slider. We do not want the slider to snap and catch Cabrera with jelly legs.
So we (fans, the sportswriters who are Hall of Fame voters, Commissioner Selig, and every highlight show) cannot pretend to be shocked by the prevalence of cheating in the sport we all love. We looked the other way and it’s time for those casting ballots to do the same.