Friday, January 3, 2014

Steroids and the Hall of Fame

A sign in the Hall of Fame museum regarding
steroids and other performance enhancers.
One reason for the heavy backlog of Hall of Fame candidates -- not the only reason, to be sure, but part of it -- is the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.

Baseball spent a decade or more with steroids an essentially open secret, tolerated if not encouraged by players, managers, owners. Then, suddenly, it wasn't OK. 

The Hall voters are now trying to judge the careers of players who thrived in the steroid era. Different people can have different views on the subject without being obviously wrong; my views have changed from time to time.

I do think this: The prevailing ethos in baseball in the 1990s -- and probably in the late 1980s as well -- said steroid use was OK. Indeed, I believe some organizations expected it, and that those players who declined to juice up were viewed as lacking in dedication.

Tony LaRussa -- who managed some of the most notorious juicers of the juicing era, who vociferously defended the likes of Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire -- he's going into the Hall of Fame this summer. So is Joe Torre, whose Yankee dynasty was riddled with users suspected and confirmed. It strains credibility to believe either was ignorant of the steroid use by their teams. They were among the enablers, if not among the encouragers.

But McGwire isn't likely to be elected when the results of the writers' balloting is announced next week. Nor, presumably, are Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds -- who, if we take their numbers seriously, may well be the greatest pitcher and hitter ever, but who bear a steroid taint. Nor, presumably, will Mike Piazza or Jeff Bagwell, who are the targets of steroid rumor.

A portion of the electorate appears to hold the position that, lacking certain knowledge of who used, everybody from the era should be considered guilty. I don't see it that way.

It seems to me that, if there's room in the Hall of Fame to honor LaRussa, there's room for Bonds and Clemens, and certainly for the likes of Piazza and Bagwell. 

1 comment:

  1. Elect Steroid Era stars to the Hall of Fame, specifically the ones known to be dirty, and yeah, they'll be accepted begrudgingly. anti anxiety medication