It seems like whenever a process that has worked for years has a fluke year, everybody wants to change the system.
The problem with the Hall of Fame is not the fact nobody got in this year, it’s the fact the writers are not given a clear criteria with simple guidelines.
The people who vote for the most part do take it as serious as they should. I don’t think we’ll ever see a change in the actual voting process. However, we cannot deny the use of PED’s has changed how we look at the game especially in a historical context.
Step 1: Remove vagueness from the criteria
You’re supposed to vote based on 6 things. player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team.
A player’s record, ability and contributions to the team are measurable. You can watch a player play and look at their stats and make a judgement on them.
A player’s character, integrity and sportsmanship are not measurable. It’s all based on opinion and when you allow opinion to be half of the criteria, you open yourself up to things like backne.
So unless the HoF specifically tells it’s writers to use clear evidence against a player, this saga will always continue. You’ll always have somebody say they think so and so did X.
But if the HoF says there isn’t any evidence on that, then it shouldn’t be used against a player.
Think about it like this. Nobody expects the voters to be a judge and jury, so why put them in that position? Barry Bonds being involved in a BALCO scandal is a fact. Roger Clemens being in the Mitchell Report with Andy Pettitte testifying he took steroids with Clemens is a fact. There’s a difference between them, and whispers about Piazza or Bagwell. Those types of situations need to be clearly defined within the criteria.
And not for nothing, but in an age where information is literally at your finger tips and book sales are driven by outing a player (such as Alex Rodriguez), if you as a reporter do not have any information 5 years after a player retires, then you’re the one who didn’t do your job.
If you’re a writer and you question whether Mike Piazza took steroids, then here’s an idea, go find out the answer. Do some work, rather than hiding behind a Hall of Fame vote and letting somebody else do your dirty work. If you’re going to have the fortitude to diminish a player’s career based on the fact he had zits on his back, then have the guts to call him a steroid user and get real information to back up your case.
Step 2: Clearly explain what will happen if a player is found out to be a PED user after induction.
Cam Newton was in the middle of a possible recruitment violation at the time of the Heisman voting. He received 729 out of 869 first place votes. Why? Because there was only speculation, and no clear evidence one way or the other. Therefore, voters didn’t hold it against him. Why not?
Well for starters, they know that if a violation is found out after the award is presented, that the award is stripped from the player. The voters do not need to be scared that they will be remembered as the guy who voted in a cheater.
If the Hall of Fame wants to say that taking PED’s is a detriment to the museum, I’m fine with that. Those players made their choice, let the hall of fame do the same. If people want to vote Bonds in, let them. They have the evidence in front of them and can decide how to judge it.
The problem is what happens if Bagwell gets inducted and 3 years later he admits to taking PED or significant evidence pops up? There is no easy solution.
That is what they need to solve. They need to assure voters that their vote is protected and they won’t be voting in a guy who tricked them.
To me, if Piazza was voted in and then it turns out he took steroids, leave it up to the fans to decide how to tell the story of Mike Piazza. If it comes out between January-July of his induction, he’ll likely get booed off the stage. If it comes out after induction, it will be another chapter in the steroid era.
This idea that we can simply erase the PED era (did it end?) and act like it never happened is ridiculous.
Step 3: Everybody gets over themselves.
Here’s a news flash for you. The Commissioner, Players, Coaches, Executives, Agents, Media and fans all had a hand in allowing the steroid era to take place.
Gaylord Perry used a spitball, Whitey Ford scuffed the ball. Both were illegal in the game of baseball because of the competitive advantage they gave players on the field. These players knew it was illegal, but they chose to do it anyway. The only difference between them and PED users is science. There’s no level of cheating. You either cheated or you didn’t. If Andy Pettitte a Hall of Fame contender because he may have only taken PED’s once or twice (yea right)? Gaylord Perry decided he wanted to cheat the game, and he was voted into the Hall of Fame.
Nobody demanded an asterisks be put on Perry plaque. Nowhere on his plaque does it say he used an illegal pitch to gain a competitive advantage. Nobody since 1991 has demanded his plaque be taken down.
We need to get over this obsession that the players starting with Jose Canseco were the first and only players to try and gain a competitive edge by any means necessary.
Players have been breaking the rules since the rules were invented. This isn’t new, it’s just more scientific and worse for one’s future health.
What the Hall of Fame should do is get somebody to tell the story of steroid use in a historical context. Why it happened, what happened, when did it happen – and don’t build a wing to celebrate these people, but build it because it’s one of the many stories of Major League Baseball.
Those 3 simple steps will help us all move past the PED era and celebrate those who deserve to be celebrated, and forgot those we wish to forget.
You cannot erase the past and if you choose to run and hide from the past, you’ll never get a chance to see the future.