Every year when the ballots for the MLB Hall of Fame are sent to the BBWAA for consideration, there are always a handful of first year names on the list. Rarely do any of those names get voted in during their first go-round, but this year there are some names that may spark some controversy for years to come.
Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens headline first-year nominees from the so-called “steroid era”, while Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio come from the tradition of hard work and dedication to the sport.
If you look strictly at the accomplishments of these five men, it is an impressive list indeed.
Barry Bonds, the (asterisked) all-time home run leader with 762 dingers.
Roger Clemens, a seemingly indestructible right-handed pitcher with 354 wins.
Craig Biggio, a second baseman with 3,060 hits.
Sammy Sosa, the only slugger to hit more than 60 homers in three different seasons, totaling 609 for his career.
Mike Piazza, who hit the most homers–396 of his 427–of any catcher in Major League history.
What voters are going to have to decide on is if those numbers alone merit induction in the the hallowed building in Cooperstown, or if the character (or lack of in some cases) of a player will enter into the equation.
To me, it’s quite simple. The Hall of Fame is a place where ball players who’s contributions to the game in both statistics and lore give them reason to be revered and to be given a place of honor among everyone who has ever played the game.
In the cases of Biggio and Piazza, there is no question. They are two players who exemplified everything great about the game of baseball, and provided some of the greatest moments the game had ever seen during their careers.
Sorry, but I can’t revere Bonds, Sosa and Clemens.
If Pete Rose, who’s crime was one of integrity, is banned from the hall, then the same should hold true for those who put themselves and their own personal glory before teammates and the good of the game of baseball.
Bonds, Sosa and Clemens simply don’t belong in the same breath, less yet the same building as names like Henry Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Bob Gibson. Having three men who showed such a tremendous lack of judgement and character voted in would only imbrue the very meaning of why we even have a Hall of Fame in the first place.
Did those men manage to compile numbers that dwarfed those who came before them? Yes, those are indisputable facts.
But did they do it without the assistance of illegal substances or other means of subverting the rules and integrity of the game? That question is one that each voter will have to decide for him or herself.