The Baseball Writers Association of America consist of over 700 members across the United States of which at any given year, more than 400 of those are voting members eligible to vote on the Hall of Fame nominations for each year’s class of inductees.
As most of you baseball fans know, 2013 does not have a single player to be inducted into the HOF. Craig Biggio came the closest by carrying 68% of the votes but still well short of the required 75%. During the voting process this year, five members of the voting committee turned in blank ballots.
Most of the Nation has accepted these No Vote ballots as a means of expression in protest of the Steroid era eligible players that are now coming up for the first time.
Let me digress for just one second here and make something extremely clear. I am NOT condoning any use of any PED or steroid use of any kind. However, I am not condeming it either. There are many here in the United States that sit in glass houses and throw rocks at those less fortunate. If a talented young kid from a third world country or country of less opportunity and poverty can take a needle and then make it to the United States to make millions for a few years then, “Exactly what is the downside for them?”
I guarantee you one thing, if it was I in the same situation, I would take the shots, rub the cream, swallow the pill. If it meant the difference between staying in Cuba and cutting cane sugar the rest of my life or “enhancing” my skills on the ballfield and skipping out the first opportunity to the States to sign with a big league club; guess which one I’m going to do?
Okay, now back to the point. The BBWAA are a group of journalist. Most if not all are educated in journalism and may have never set foot on a baseball field above the high school level; if ever at all. When the Hall of Fame was organized this group of journalist was commissioned to be the voting body to keep things “fair” and keep the “good old boy” system of former players deciding who among their peer group they wished to enshrine.
As the years went by, for the most part, these guys did a fairly good job. As fans we still wonder why So&So made the Hall but Favorite number one did not. We all know why Shoeless Joe Jackson is not in. We all know why Pete Rose is still not in. Both of those guys still hold a “banned for life” stigma in which they are not “eligible” for Hall considerations until this ban is lifted.
But after those two, this is where things get sticky. On the list of candidates this year, there are those players that were accused, guilty of and those guilty by association with the steroid plague that swept MLB from the mid-90’s until now. That’s right, it is still an ongoing problem.
During that time however, it was a GREAT job to be a member of the BBWAA. They made a great living traveling and reporting on the latest feats of those players like Palmeiro, Bonds, McGuire, Sosa, Conseco, Caminitti and a whole list of others. The instant gratification of internet information was not found in evey household like it is now, and fans rushed to the stands to grab the latest edition of whatever sports rag they favored to see what happened over night with their favorite player or team.
These same journalist were reaping the rewards of the homerun chase as some of the greatest power hitters of all time were flexing their roid raged muscles and putting asses in seats in all the stadiums around the country. Major League Baseball was again on the rise and MLB even promoted the homerun explosion with emphasis on “Chicks dig the long Ball” commercials around the nation.
And now these same journalist that placed all these players on a pedestal and held them up as National heroes have now turned their backs on those same guys and shunned them. They call them cheaters. They ridicule them for taking away from the “purity” of the game.
And I guess the thing that stresses me the most and pisses me off the most is they act like they did not have a clue to what was happening. They act “shocked” to find out that some of these guys were using some artificial “drug” to reach the highest possible performance their bodies could achieve.
The players were seeing a huge increase in player salaries for those doing the deeds and reaching the high pinnacles and so more and more participated. MLB officials knew what was happening. Owners, Managers and Players all knew what was happening. And any sports or beat writer that was paying even half-attention to the players would have known what was happening as well.
It was not until the United States Congress got involved with investigating steroids in MLB that the entire country sat up and began calling all those accused as being cheaters. It has gotten so bad, that now anyone that played during that era is guilty by association.
If a player has a career year he is looked at as a possible user. If any player hits over 50 dingers a year he is immediately scrutinized beyond reasonable measures.
And guess who is right behind all the news and reports scrutinzing these players? That’s right the same BBWAA members that get to vote on the HOF inductees.
The same guys that cashed in during the height of the homerun chase between Big Mac and Sosa and are now the same guys keeping them out of the Hall.
The same guys that pursued Barry Bonds after every homerun and got pissed if he was standoffish and not readily available to answer their interview request. These are the same guys now not voting these players in.
I personally find their response or lack thereof hypocritical and sadly disappointing. As a fan, I refuse to ever visit Cooperstown ever again until MLB and the Hall of Fame makes a clear and conscious statement as to how this whole crazy mess is going to be fixed. I will continue to watch baseball. I will continue to root root root for the home team and ooh and ahh with every deep fly into the stands. I will not however support the Hall of Fame or even care about its integrity until they accept the fact these guys were still the best of their generation. That they dominated the sport during that era for good , bad or indifferent.
All of the record books I turn to show the numbers. NONE of them are marked with an asterisk or shaded in gray or marked in any fashion that tells me as a fan to take these numbers with a grain of salt. They are there and when matched up to those of the past HOF inductees they match up at least evenly if not better.
There are those players in the HOF now that admitted to using drugs to help them play and no one even blinks an eye in regret of them having been elected. So why do those guys get a break but not the players from the steroid era.
This is of course just my opinion. Everyone is entitled to their own and I do realize this is NOT the popular stance to take. But it is from the heart and it is how I feel.
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