Steroids and the Hall of Fame
Isn’t yesterday’s admission by Mark McGwire that he used performance-enhancing drugs a little like Liberace coming out of the closet?
So let the reactions begin!
By all accounts, McGwire is a decent guy, so I’m sorry he is going through this. But at least he’s finally getting it out there and perhaps can put it behind him as he begins a new career as the hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals.
The question remains, however, what about the Hall of Fame? Should McGwire or any PED user be inducted into the Hall? My answer is, No.
The Hall of Fame should not just be about objective numbers. And it is not. If it were, there would be no need to keep players on the ballot more than one year. They would either make it on one vote or they wouldn’t. That the thinking about players — see Jim Ed Rice — changes over time shows that this is a very subjective process. And I like that. The Hall of Fame is the place we immortalize the baseball players who we want future generations to know, players whose exploits on the field deserve to be remembered 100 years from now. Cheaters do not deserve this honor. Period.
If you put Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Roger Clemens, or Barry Bonds in the Hall of Fame you are allowing them to cheat the clean players twice; first on the field and then in immortality.
There are those who will argue that because we don’t know who did what that we can’t just single out those players who got caught. I hope these people are never prosecuting attorneys… Can you see their closing arguments? “Yes, the evidence of guilt in this murder trial is overwhelming, but you can’t convict the defendant because other murderers in other cases have yet to be caught.”
The other argument you hear is that players who cheated in other ways are in the Hall, players like the notorious spit-baller, Gaylord Perry, and George Brett who got caught with a corked bat. I admit there is some validity to this argument, but it is also different. There are people on the field, umpires and opposing managers, who can — and do — catch these cheaters. And when they are caught, there are consequences. But there is no way to catch a PED cheater during the game. There is no way the umpire can detect a steroid user. No, taking drugs is a different and more insidious form of cheating. Since the players involved already cashed their paychecks, already “set records,” what other way can they be punished? If you elect them to the Hall, then you validate their cheating, and create absolutely no consequences for the deed. It is not fair to the clean players and it is not fair to the game.
Keep McGwire out.