By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report
After hearing about the decision not to select anyone for the 2013 Class of the Baseball Hall of Fame, I have come to the conclusion that the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. is fast becoming a very bad joke.
It has become a shameful laughing stock because those who are charged with making the selections, the Baseball Writers Association of America have taken the stage and become the story, something we were trained never to do as journalists.
I’ve always felt that the Hall of Fame selection was biased on many levels having nothing to do with the game such as some players not getting along with sports writers or political reasons like the case of Curt Flood and Marvin Miller who both changed the game by advocating for the rights of the player.
I wonder why those guys aren’t in Cooperstown, yet?
On this year’s ballot, you had Barry Bonds, your all-time leader in homeruns; Roger Clemens, winner of the most Cy Young awards; Sammy Sosa, a man who had multiple 60-homerun seasons; Rafael Palmeiro, one of four players with 500 home-runs and 3,000 hits and Mike Piazza, one of the best hitting catchers ever.
And none of them got in. Not even Piazza who was never among those accused of using performance-enhancing drugs.
The guys from the Steroids Era warrant the most attention here because I find it utterly fascinating that baseball writers have become obnoxiously self righteous about denying these guys entrance into the Hall of Fame of a sport where the rules have often been bent. Just ask guys like Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford, who did things to doctor baseballs or players who used amphetamines to gain a competitive edge.
The Baseball Hall of Fame is a motley crew of cheaters, virulent racists, gamblers and disreputable men and there’s even an accused child molester in the writer’s wing. It’s not necessarily a hallowed sanctuary for good behavior.
There was a Steroids Era in baseball because Major League Baseball was the only sports league in the world that had no rules against performance enhancing drugs. There were no testing procedures. The union that’s supposed to look out for the player’s health and the league that’s supposed to maintain the integrity of the game did nothing about it, except to reap the billions of dollars in revenue.
Even though the drugs are against the law, everyone associated with the sport, including those writers who vote for the Hall of Fame, looked the other way while aging players late into their careers were putting up astronomical numbers.
And now those who vote for the Hall of Fame believe they are preserving the integrity of the game by denying Bonds, Clemens or Sosa entry into the Hall of Fame. Everybody wants to be an avenging angel after the fact.
Since PEDs in baseball were as pervasive as the Mitchell Report stated, the records will stand with no asterisks, teams will not be giving back pennants or World Series rings and owners definitely aren’t going to give money back to the fans who spent millions of dollars to see juiced up players.
Like it or not, Bonds and Clemens were the best players of their era even before they allegedly used performance-enhancing drugs. Denying them entry into the Hall of Fame amounts to nothing more than pettiness on the part of the writers.
If the Hall of Fame is supposed to be a keeper of the history of the game, there needs to be some honesty here. You can mention their deeds and the conditions under which they excelled and that baseball did not have a policy prohibiting performance-enhancing drugs and everyone in the sport deserves a share of the responsibility.
I say put the steroids users in the Hall of Fame because if nothing else they were at least competing against a level playing field given the pervasiveness of PEDs in the sport.
As it stands now, the Baseball Hall of Fame is a monument to the terminally self-righteous considering that you don’t have the all-time hits leader, the all-time home run king, it’s most successful pitcher, one of the greatest hitting catchers and two men who laid the foundation for baseball free agency.
There’s something wrong with that picture.