Performance Enhancement Drugs (PEDs) and the Hall of Fame (Part 2)

In March of 2006, the MLB appointed Sen. George Mitchell to investigate the history of PEDs in baseball. The Mitchell Report was released in December of 2007. Besides naming several offenders, the report said, “The illegal use of performance-enhancing substances poses a serious threat to the integrity of the game. Widespread use by players of such substances unfairly disadvantaged the honest athletes who refused to use them and raised questions about the validity of baseball records.” This brings us to the much debated question about whether a player, who either admitted to PED use or is a suspected PED user, should be voted into the Hall of Fame.This posting will give arguments for the admittance of any player, based solely on his statistics without regard to PED use.

The only player currently on the 2014 ballot that tested positive is Rafael Palmeiro. Mark McGwire admitted to using steroids and is on the ballot. That means the rest of the players on the ballot who played during the Steroid Era can only be suspected users, by virtue of other player accusations or because of the change in their physical appearance. In our legal system you are assumed innocent unless proven guilty.

In the 2013 voting by the baseball writers no player was voted into the Hall of Fame. Sure-fire Hall of Famers like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Piazza, and other borderline Hall of Famers that are suspected users are clogging the ballots. Since receiving 5% of the votes keeps you on the ballot for next year, more and more of these players will add to the crowded ballots. Since each voter can only vote for a maximum of 10 players, this makes it very difficult for any player to appear on the necessary 75% of the ballots. It is conceivable that in future years we will also have no players elected. The list of Hall of Famers include racists, drunkards, wife-beaters and players who cheated by doctoring the baseball or corking their bats. What about those players already in the Hall of Fame, too numerous to mention, who have used amphetamines to enhance their performance and extend their careers? Should we kick Willie Mays out of the Hall? If we don’t allow record holders into the Hall of Fame what do we do with their records? After all, the quest to establish new records in baseball is a very important part of the history of baseball. Do we now say the record for home runs in a season belongs to Roger Maris at 61? Oh, they played 162 games in 1961 instead of 154 games so the record for home runs belongs to Babe Ruth’s at 60. This can be a slippery slope for baseball.What if a player admitted to using PEDs for just one year or just one time? Will that disqualify the player from the Hall of Fame? In the case of Barry Bonds by the year 1997 he already had established the necessary numbers to be elected. Andy Pettitte admitted to using PEDs to overcome an injury to quicken his return to baseball. Baseball players are human beings that make wrong decisions. Why not forgive these players and look only at their accomplishments in baseball.

In surveys done of existing players who are in the Hall of Fame many have said if they played in the Steroid Era they would have taken PEDs. The reasons they gave were peer pressure and a belief that PED users had an unfair advantage over them. Finally, many people think that the MLB wasn’t overly concerned by the use of PEDs. Yes, the Commissioners voiced their concerns but it was really just lip-service. It wasn’t until 2004 that true testing and true punishments took place. After all, the owners of most of the teams are business men concerned only with putting fannies in their seats. The home run records set by McGwire, Bonds, and Sosa did just that. Baseball fans love home runs and these players gave them what they wanted to see.

To be continued with arguments against admittance …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *