|Time for the writers to get over the steroid era.|
On Wednesday, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced that for the first time since 1996 no player on the ballot received the necessary 75% necessary for enshrinement. The vote was less for who should be in the Hall of Fame and more a vote to continue grinding the ax that the writers have been sharpening for the past decade.
While baseball's steroid era was a black eye for the sport, it is time to move on. The writers simply will not allow that to happen.
Make no mistake, the last guy I want to see honored is Barry Bonds. Not only is there a trail of evidence longer than the home runs he deposited into McCovey Cove that he used steroids, but he was also possibly the most self-absorbed, egotistical player to don a Major League uniform, and that is saying something.
However, the reality is, in order to punish Bonds and his fellow cheaters, the writers have decided to punish everyone who played in that era. That simply isn't fair.
On Wednesday, Craig Biggio became just the second player in the history of the game with 3,000 hits not to get elected into the hall on the first ballot that he was eligible on. The other player to earn that same disgrace was Rafael Palmeiro, who lied to congress and got busted using PEDs while he was still playing in the big leagues.
Punishing guys like Palmeiro and Bonds are easy to targets for punishment. Their use was obvious and blatant. Bonds may not have been convicted of a crime, but his personal trainer spent months in jail in order to avoid testifying against him. Palmeiro failed his test, proving his guilt.
The logic from the writers is simple, assume that steroid use was so rampant during that era that anyone who put up good numbers was using. Punish them all.
The problem with that logic is that it assumes guilt and punishes those who were innocent two-fold.
Think about it. What if Biggio, one of the best hitters during the steroid era, and not known as a power hitter, was in fact, innocent? What if he was putting up those numbers strictly through hard work and God-given talent? If that is the case, he earned his call by recording 3,000 hits.
However, take it a step further. Biggio, a guy who was never accused by the Mitchell Report, or any teammate, or any other source of using steroids, was very likely putting up those kinds of numbers with a distinct disadvantage.
The voters know that those in the Mitchell Report, and those who got caught after the league started testing are not the only guilty players. In fact, it is widely accepted that the vast majority of users were never caught. Therefore, the logic of the writers suggests that they can't punish those who got caught, simply because they got caught. They must punish everyone to ensure that not a single cheater sneaks through the cracks.
That logic is flawed, and punishes players who did things the right way. If Biggio, as well as many others on the ballot that were never accused of drug use, were able to put up those numbers without help, while the majority of the competition, both on the opposing team and in their own clubhouse, was using, then shouldn't he be celebrated? Instead, he is banished with the rest of them, the assumption being made that he was a cheater as well.
If we can't sift out all of the cheaters and punish only them, we can't simply assume that everyone was cheating. The reality is, the stain that steroids left on baseball is something that will effect the game for a long time. The reason that players were using so rampantly is the same reason why we will never know the names of every cheater.
The reality is, Major League Baseball did such a poor job of policing themselves, and the players union was so infatuated with money that they didn't care enough to do the very thing they were developed to do, protect the members of the union. Steroids were rampant because it was accepted. That doesn't mean those who chose to do it should be given a free pass. Absolutely they should take responsibility for their actions.
However, for the writers who vote for enshrinement to take it into their own hands and act as if they are the parent disciplining their children is extremely arrogant. In fact, these writers are the reason that the steroid era won't go away. They are the ones who continue to bring it up, continue to live in the past and continue to make it an issue. They convict the innocent with their ballots, they blame the blameless with their assumptions.
It is time to accept the steroid era for what it was. It was a time when it was widely accepted, and even expected, for players to use performance enhancing drugs. However, it is also time to let sleeping dogs lie, and allow those who dominated in that era to enter the Hall of Fame.
Sure, a few cheaters are going to make it in, but that is better than a deserving player who is innocent being left out because it is easy to paint over their statistics with a broad brush.
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