Steroids Era and Hall Of Fame Voting Collide
I love the internet and I spend a great portion of my day just reading my sports feeds, chatting with or emailing friends, and even blogging on this site. However, the internet does have its drawbacks.
Lately there seems to be a wide array of opinions on who should or shouldn’t get into the Hall of Fame. It’s actually pretty difficult to avoid the shocking divisiveness and profanity-laden discourse that is being spewed by those who disagree with the stands some writers have taken with regards to their views on PEDs and the players who used or were suspected of using them.
It never used to be like this, but in the last few years many popular writers and members on the BBWAA have decided that they would share their secret ballots in their columns opening up a Pandora’s Box of mindless rants.
Most of those doing the complaining are the bloggers and fans who don’t have a vote. To them, the BBWAA is just a collection of ignorant, know-nothings who have no clue about baseball and who the game’s best players are.
Ed Price of AOL Fanhouse took a novel approach to all of this non-stop bickering and decided to devote a column just to say he will not share his HOF selections and prefers instead to keep it secret.
Unlike the annual BBWAA awards, Hall of Fame voting is by secret ballot. And while in the past I have published my vote, I no longer believe I should.
And that’s because I don’t believe it’s fair to publicly accuse someone of using PEDs without some evidence. If I reveal my ballot, and it doesn’t include an obvious choice, then I am, in effect, accusing that player because I have made it known I will not vote for a player if I believe there was a reasonable chance he used PEDs. … But for now, I feel I’m following the instructions given me. And I’m not ashamed of my stance. I’ll get plenty of backlash, and I hope for reasoned debate rather than name-calling. Throw all the numbers you want at me—and I like to look at all the numbers—but I abhor cheating, and that takes precedence over all.
Good for you, Ed. I can respect his decision as I’m quite certain he wanted to avoid the abuse and backlash fellow Fanhouse writer, Dan Graziano, got for sharing his ballot and his opinions. In retrospect, I’m sure Graziano regrets his decision to go public.
Nick Cafardo, of the Boston Globe, tries to find some middle ground with how to deal with the deluge of steroid-era players now becoming eligible for the Hall of fame.
“It’s not easy to come up with a stance that fits all,” he said. “But in the case of players who tested positive after the steroid policy was in place, I’m not voting for them. These players were forewarned about getting themselves clean or they’d face suspension and embarrassment for the rest of their careers.”
Many of the popular saber sites don’t really care about whether players did steroids or not citing that they weren’t banned for most of the steroids-era, and of course they are right. There wasn’t an official MLB policy in place until a few years ago, long after most of them retired. “However”, one person told me, “they were still illegal. Baseball doesn’t have an official policy on rape, murder or armed robbery either.”
Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports devoted much ink to the controversy today, and believes that because the Hall of Fame hasn’t issued any new selection criteria regarding steroids, that it’s a hearty endorsement to ignore the steroids era altogether. He believes that too many writers wrongfully consider themselves the guardians of the sanctity of the game. he calls them the “Morality Police”.
They feel they are protecting some sacred institution, not merely judging one man. The Hall of Fame is capable of protecting itself. It does so by setting its eligibility standards. It could change them in five minutes if it felt threatened. It hasn’t done so in response to the steroids epidemic. That should tell the writers something.
In a completely different spin, Matthew Coller of the Biz of Baseball says that the BBWAA is putting the Hall of Fame on the path to financial ruin by blocking “cash cows” like Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. Ignoring the PED users and letting mediocre stars in is hitting baseball in the pockets.
There seems to be a good deal of irony in the fact that, in the end, the very thing writers are trying to protect, the sanctity of the Hall of Fame, is hurting the Hall. And, while ignoring PED players may not kill the Hall of Fame, mediocre stars certainly won’t save it.
It just seems that those whose voices are the loudest and whose internet reach is the greatest, have much to gain by their positions. The more they rant the less objective their arguments become.
I believe that when it comes to baseball, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.
I also believe that everyone should feel free to express those opinions without fear of being dragged into the mud or drawn into an all out acrimonious battle that in the end proves and solves nothing.
Ironically, many of the people that are knocking the writers of the BBWAA are the same people who knock the fan voting for the All Star Game.
Neither the fans or the writers are perfect. They are as imperfect as the umpires and the game of baseball itself.
This is what makes baseball such a wonderful pastime – not that it’s a perfect game, but because it’s so gloriously imperfect.
About the Author: Rob Johnson
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