The Baseball Writers Association of America decided this year not to admit any new members into the Baseball Hall of Fame. There was a total of 37 candidates this year, none of which received the 75 percent of the electorate required to be admitted. This was the eighth time in its history that the BBWAA, has not elected a Hall of Famer, and the first since 1996.
The obvious problem with this years batch of candidates, and going forward, is the issue of steroids. Media types have labeled almost two decades of baseball history as the “Steroid Era”. Many players were guilty of using steroids, and due to the prevalence of use, anyone who played during that time, whether guilty or not, is being placed under the umbrella of suspicion. Some players have admitted guilt and other player’s guilt has only been alleged and not proven. Either way, all have unfortunately been labeled cheaters.
Baseball was on life support during the eighties and early nineties. Television viewership was down as well as ballpark attendance, and football had arguably surpassed baseball as America’s pastime. As baseball players incorporated steroids into their workouts and the residual effects began to make the game more exciting; teams as well as the commissioner turned a blind eye. Steroid testing was almost non-existent during those years, and it was common knowledge around team clubhouses that players were juicing. Baseball fans all cheered as the “Steroid Era” players hurled pitches faster than ever, and hit balls farther and with more frequency. Now, the same people who cheered, namely many of the writers themselves, feel as though none of the players from that era, who are eligible for the Hall, deserve to be admitted.
Is it the writers job to judge the players based on moral conviction, or is the Hall of Fame simply supposed to reflect what happened in the history of the game? If we backtrack through the annuals of baseball history; some of the most iconic figures of all-time were alcoholics and much worse. Let’s not forget America’s pastime also reflected its racial legacy for many years. Until Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947, baseball excluded black players. Are the records before that time valid, without the statistics of some of the Negro League ball players like, Josh Gibson, Satchel Page and others? Should we place an asterisk in the record books next to that time period? Should we call it the “Segregation Era” of baseball an question the validity of its numbers?
I’m sure strong arguments could be made either way. The hard truth is it happened, and the sad truth is we accepted it. That goes for questionable behavior in the baseball of yesteryear and now. Whether people like it or not the “Steroid Era” is a part of baseball history. We are walking on dangerous grounds when we start deciding who’s remembered and who’s not, especially as it relates to peoples individual taste. If the Hall of Fame is there to document and remember the history of the game, how can the STORY be altered because some people don’t like how it reads?