January 9, 2014

Piazza Wasn't The Only Victim

I'm not what you would call a baseball historian.  In fact, if it hasn't happened in my lifetime I generally speaking don't really care about it.  I respect the iconic figureheads of yesteryear, but also believe that to a point that many of them would struggle to make it in today's game.  Over the decades, the game has become increasingly competitive due in large part to the money involved.  The competition has led to bigger, faster and stronger athletes over time.  It has also lead to the use of steroids.

Yesterday's Hall of Fame ballot was littered with steroid offenders and suspected offenders nearly from top to bottom.  For the second consecutive year, the BBWAA took what they consider to be a stand on the steroid era.  Bear in mind that this is an era that most of them covered from beginning to end and did little to question the power surge that was deemed to be good for the game.  In fact, the large majority turned their cheek until Major League Baseball itself decided to impose stricter rules and even stricter penalties.

As Mets fans, we tend to focus on the fact that Mike Piazza was denied entry for the second consecutive season due in large part to suspicions that he used steroids.  What many fans don't realize, Mets fans in particular, are that there are other far more deserving candidates on the ballot who received significantly fewer votes.  I point directly at Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (whom I despise) because each is a known user.  There is no doubt about it, they used steroids, however they were also two of the best players to ever pick up a baseball, steroids or not.  After all, taking steroids alone was not a guarantee of greatness.

Deciding not to elect players like this into the Hall of Fame out of contempt doesn't not make the BBWAA look like the bigger man.  It robs future generations of fans from remembering some of the biggest figures of an important era in baseball.  The same can't be said for today's fans, who can visit Cooperstown and view the plaques of players from decades gone by.  The same players who used greenies and any other substance they could find to get an edge.  No stand was made then, so why now?

I'm not saying these players aren't without guilt.  Few if any "dirty" players are idolized from the time frame.  But some were still the best of their time, perhaps some of the best ever.  To cost them a trip to Cooperstown for an issue that Major League Baseball not only allowed, but embraced is a crime.  There was a list of potential candidates yesterday, but the list of victims is nearly as long.  Turning a blind eye to the issue was wrong then, and its wrong now, but as your mother probably told you, two wrongs don't make a right.  These players deserve to be enshrined, but now are resigned to be victims of a process that's nearly as corrupt as the BBWAA would have you think the candidates are. 

Like what you read?  Follow me on Twitter at @RobPatterson83.


If you frequent the site, you may already know that several of our writers have already chimed in on yesterday's Hall of Fame vote.  If you haven't seen those, you can check them out here and here.

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