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Why inducting no one was the Worst Option Available

Why inducting no one was the Worst Option Available
Craig Biggio (Photo:
January 10, 2013
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The Hall of Fame balloting this year was a joke. And I really do not think I am being extreme by saying that.

As I am sure you know by now, the BBWAA did not elect anyone to the Hall of Fame this year. With the steroid issue still hanging over baseball, the writers were unable to find enough common ground to let anyone into Cooperstown this summer.

I am perfectly fine if someone thinks that known steroid users should not be allowed into Cooperstown. That is your opinion and you are entitled to it. I think that what happened in baseball happened and you cannot revise history to cut out certain unseemly facts, but both are valid viewpoints.

I am less fine if someone wants to keep players out of the Hall of Fame because "I saw his bacne in the locker room" or "his teammate used and he had big muscles." The burden of proof is on the accuser to prove such a claim, not the accused to fend off wild accusations being thrown his way.

But all of that is besides the point. If you are a true baseball fan, among Craig BiggioJack MorrisJeff BagwellMike PiazzaTim RainesLee SmithCurt SchillingRoger ClemensBarry BondsEdgar MartinezAlan TrammellLarry WalkerFred McGriff, Dale Murphy, Mark McGwireDon MattinglySammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro, there is at least one Hall of Famer. These are some of the best who played the game.

Yet, no one got in. For me, I see around 12 players who should be in Cooperstown. Admittedly, I favor a bigger Hall of Fame, but there is no way to argue that none of those players deserved induction.

Plus, the problem only gets worse next year. Writers are only permitted to vote for 10 players a year, yet deserving candidates like Tom GlavineGreg MadduxMike Mussina, and Frank Thomas are being added to the list. There was not enough room on the ballots this year, let alone in 2014.

I am not going to pretend that any idea I have could magically fix the problem. It is clear, however, that something should happen. Letting no one into the Hall of Fame because some people cheated is ludicrous.

Cheating has always been a part of baseball. Stealing signs is very well accepted. If you can crack the other team's code, you never go over and tell the opposing manager that he needs to mix up his signs.

The 1951 New York Giants' method of stealing signs from the stands in center field was not  ethical or legal, but it got them in position for the one of the greatest moments in baseball history. The Shot Heard 'Round The World is still a huge part of baseball lore, despite not being pure.

Gaylord Perry regularly doctored baseballs, something that became part of his mystique. Check that. Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry was absolutely caught cheating, yet he is not a persona non grata in Cooperstown.

Steroids happened. So did amphetamines. And so did numerous other versions of cheating in the long history of baseball. It may not be pleasant, but it is the truth.

So to keep two of the best players of all-time out of the Hall of Fame -- Bonds and Clemens -- really makes no sense.

To keep very deserving players like Biggio, Bagwell, and Piazza out of the Hall of Fame -- with no proof of steroid use other than the era they played in -- is even more absurd.

That is why the voting this year is a joke. There were plenty of difficult choices for the BBWAA to choose between, but with the number of worthy candidates on the ballot, electing no one was the least defensible option.

If you want to follow Jim on Twitter, he’s @JimPiascik. If you want to e-mail him, you can do so at If you want to read his Master's thesis on college athletes and Twitter, you can do so here.

User Comments

January 10, 2013 - 4:00 PM EST
I don't think anyone can look at that period of time and not know something was amiss. Ruth hit 60 in 1927 and in 1961 Maris hit 61 - with 8 more games on the schedule than Ruth. All of a sudden 30+ years later some are hitting 70+? Brady Anderson hits 50? Oh, and after this was addressed anyone hitting 70 homers or even close to it?

So I'm just fine with the juicers not getting in. Some of the others - I'm not sure. I think somewhere along the line we got away from the "best of the best" and went to the really good. I do think Maddux and Glavine are worthy and will get in next year.

Maybe we need 2 wings there - one for the best of the best , one for the really good. Something needs to be adjusted, listen to guys on TV talk about it everyone is a Hall of Famer to them.
January 10, 2013 - 3:48 PM EST
An issue that the steroids forgivers overlook when they forgive the rampant PED era is how many careers were destroyed because of elongated careers or careers that never would have happened because of PEDs. Take LoDuca as an example, here is an admitted user who, by his own admission, made it to the majors and had an entire career owed to PEDs... well what other non-PED-taking athlete NEVER made it to the bigs because of cheating a-hole like LoDuca? The crime was the decimation of men who toed the line and didn't abuse the system by taking PEDs. These turds crushed careers of many an athlete who wasn't willing to be a scumbag cheater.
January 10, 2013 - 3:25 PM EST
It is well documented that steroid use definitely affects health, with a number of athletes deaths attributed to its use. To think otherwise is naive.
Voting for HOF membership has always been a sham. How can baseball writers who have never played the game, only written about it (some poorly), be the judge of a players contributions. I believe only the Veterans Committee has members who actually played in or were involved in the game.
To pass judgement on the players by writers because of what they hear or think (or worse yet, believe some of what they write) doesn't seem right. In essence, they are playing God. And I thought only doctors thought they were God. This whole system needs re-vamping but I don't see it happening. Not in my lifetime, but I am old too.
January 10, 2013 - 2:51 PM EST
Matt I just read that article by Tom Verducci. I have a problem with any writer who openly admits that he would vote for a player like McGriff because there are not any known allegations of steroid use as opposed to a player like Clemons who has never been convicted of its use only assumed. What makes any writer judge and jury. You would have to assume that the majority of the players were using some form of help during that time. Look at the age of players and the numbers they were posting along with the statistical league leaders from the 80's then compare them to the age of players with stats and stats of league leaders during the steroid era. Albert Belle is a perfect example, I have yet to hear his name ever linked to steroids, but his rage was atrributed to alcohol, his power numbers and his career ending injury would suggest that he used some form of help. How would Verducci view his career if he was Hall eligible?. Jim Thome has never been discussed as a steroid user, but his body has changed, his power numbers would suggest that he may have used steroids. Using what Verducci wrote, he would cast a vote in favor of Thome to enter the hall. At age 41 Greg Maddux pitched 195 innings and was 14-11 for the Padres in 2007 prior to the Mitchell report, how will Verducci view his career? I find the whole scenario of choosing between who we think cheated and who we think of being clean wrong. Either we let them all in or none at all, why does any writer have the right to play judge and jury without due process.
January 10, 2013 - 2:27 PM EST
and are you kidding me no one has died from steroid abuse? It physiologically changes your body, weakens your arteries, increases the size of your heart, and many many other things.
I'm a pre-pt student and in about three of my classes my
teachers discussed the stupidity and risk of death from taking
steroids. Arnold Schwarzenegger had bypass surgery from
steroids. Oh and also when you take artificial testosterone for too long your body stops recognizing natural test and only can use artificial. So basically once you stop your test levels drop making your estrogen levels raise because they were trying to compensate for the extra test so you'll start growing more feminine features and lose the ability to reproduce.
January 10, 2013 - 2:18 PM EST
You can also argue that speeding isn't always deadly either, and that someone on steroids can go into fits of rage or depression and harm other people. Both speeding and steroids could harm people.
January 10, 2013 - 1:11 PM EST
It's against the law to drive too fast, as well. You going to ban people from the hall of fame if they once got a speeding ticket? Between obtaining a drug without a prescription and speeding, speeding is worse, since it endangers others, doing some steroids is only a problem for the person doing them. If baseball didn't want players using steroids, they could've enacted a strict testing program any time. To not do that, and then adopt this holier-than-thou attitude after the fact, that is b.s.
Not a doc - but not dumb like..
January 10, 2013 - 1:03 PM EST
Bottom line is alot of baseball players used and still used PEDs steriods included... No Doubt Barry Binds should be in the hall of fame as well as quite a few more "juicers"... As pointed out cheating has always been a part of baseball...

But to me the far more alarming issue here is some of these posters complete ignornance in regards to steriod use/abuse...

Steriods specially anabolic steriods are used commonly as medicine. They are not "drugs" in the same way crack,herion meth etc. are. No one dies from steriod use - or the results of steriod use.. Do some simple research people. No one dies from steriod overdose/abuse. Studies conflict over the supposed "roid rage" condition but other then a womans voice changing when a steriod user stops using the juice they almost always suffer no permanent impaiment..

Watch Bigger, Faster Stronger for a simple lesson in steriod use/opinion in modern America
matt underwood
January 10, 2013 - 12:59 PM EST
Seth - To say "it wasn't against the rules" or "there was no ban" is such a horrible argument too - it was against the freakin' law to use anabolic steroids!
matt underwood
January 10, 2013 - 12:57 PM EST
BullSh*t Jim - these guys should not be in the hall. Verducci laid it out the best here:

"You have to understand how much steroids changed the game. In the rush to dismiss them, people have thrown out awkward analogies about petroleum jelly, sandpaper, cork, tacks, diet pills from the '70s, etc. under the catchall category of "cheating." Stop it. You know what steroids are like? Steroids. Nothing else rises to the level of steroids when it comes to anabolically changing the body so that it can do far more than it ever could do without them. Steroids took hold because they take a player well beyond his natural ability. Caminiti said he felt like "Superman" with steroids; they even improved his speed."

The fact that these sportswriters act holier is BS too - they knew what was going on as much as the players and filed to blow the horn.

It is a total mess top to bottom, but in no way shape or form should these cheaters be in the hall.
January 10, 2013 - 12:39 PM EST
seth with barry bonds i keep coming back to was he and his dad doing the same peds. Keep in mind bobby bonds who i dont think was a cigerette user died very young of lung cancer. If bobby and barry used the same peds i sure hope genetics doesnt lend the same fate to barry. His dad i believe died at about the time he joined the giants so it would have been before he built the body up. His dad may have smoked but i thought i read when he died that he wasnt a smoker. look at the steelers line in the 70's most of them died early deaths due to steroid abuse.
January 10, 2013 - 12:29 PM EST
Yeah, part of the problem is when you get so many guys that are "qualified" it can be tough to get a consensus where a player appears on 75% of the vote. That's tough when you have to pick from 15-20 legit options and everyone has a varying opinion. I really think the writers are not the ones that should be voting. Sure, they see these guys play every day, but that doesn't mean they know what the heck they are doing. It also brings bias into the voting as I am sure a lot of writers vote for the guys they covered they liked. Hence why guys like Sandy Alomar and even Aaron Sele got a vote. It would be tough to take it away from the writers at this point, but they really need to adopt a universal chance to the voting process. It is old and archaic and needs more direction. And really, some of the voters need to be disqualified and ALL the votes should be made PUBLIC.
January 10, 2013 - 11:25 AM EST
I just don't understand how you can pick and choose which players are not worthy of the Hall due to steroids without casting a doubt on all players. In fact I believe that was an argument used by many who played through the steroid era, that the biggest fear was that every player would have this shadow cast over their careers. How can we not cast doubt on so many pitchers who were very effective in thier late 30's and early 40's and not see that happening today? Or how does a player like Barry Bonds watch as Sosa and McGwire battle for the home run title as he plays the game without any help from PED's. Baseball allowed this, they needed it to bring back fans as they ruined it over greed. Now to punish these players by calling them cheaters is almost as hypocritical as baseball when they turned a blind eye to what was happening in the game. This decision should not be for the writers to make, it should be for Baseball to make, a statement from the comissioners office should set any guidelines for this era.
January 10, 2013 - 11:06 AM EST
Hard to even call it cheating for someone like Bonds, since there was no specific ban for steroids or any testing. Denying someone like Manny Ramirez could be somewhat more defensible, since he used and was caught after testing started. All Bonds was doing was taking whatever means necessary to become the best he could be, and the sport essentially condoned it at the time.
January 10, 2013 - 10:22 AM EST
this is a fiasco how in the world was craig biggio not a unanomous selection he was walked in access of 1500 times over 3000 hits and over 400 hit by pitch by my count that means he was on base over 5000 times over a 22 yr career with several gold gloves and even the roberto clemente award. To me there is no question he belongs that is painting every player who arrived to the big leagues at the same time with the steroid brush. Either do the job of putting the right people in the hall or relinguish your vote. there is no excuse for omitting biggio whatsoever and i am not a houston fan. but in all cases do the right thing there is never a wrong time to do the right thing--lou holtz
January 10, 2013 - 9:25 AM EST
My biggest problem with these writers that vote are their idiotic belief that they are the moralistic gatekeepers of the hall. I e always had issues with the, "I'm not going to vote for them yet..."

What kind of take is that? So, one year they aren't good enough, and the next they are? Many voters are adhering to a similar policy with many of the players that have admitted or alleged to have taken them...impose a one or three or five year ban on voting for them. Sorry, you are either good enough to get in, or not....and the fact that writers change their votes from year to year is laughable. Rare is the year when there are more than five the # generally won't be an excuse.

The problem is subjectivity, and in an era of polarized has joined the likes of Congress in indecision.
January 10, 2013 - 8:58 AM EST
Agreed Brian. Look, I get the whole thing that these guys supposedly "cheated" because they took PEDs. But in the same sense, those PEDs didn't make them great players. Most of them were great before they took PEDs, and really, we have no conclusive evidence who did and did not take them. For all we know Greg Maddux was on them which would help explain some of that crazy control! There are only a handful of players up for the hall suspected of PEDs, yet the sport was littered with players that took them so it is not like there are so many more hall of fame caliber guys because of PEDs. Baseball has ALWAYS been about cheating. Finding ways to beat the opponent. From more innocent ways like stealing signs to doctoring the baseball to corking bats to more serious ways like greenies and PEDs. Baseball also has its "bad" people who were drunks, criminals, womanizer, etc back in the day, yet they are in. A lot of these players have 14 more chances to get in, and most may get in in due time, but over the next several years baseball needs to look itself in the eye and get over this PED thing. As long as they pull this crap like yesterday, the longer this sore wound of PEDs gets brought up year, after year, after year. Until these guys get in the hall we are going to hear about the PED stuff for the next 5-15 years. I'm tired of it. Let's move on.
January 10, 2013 - 8:43 AM EST
Very well stated. And what I think needs to absolutely be addressed by the Hall of Fame is what its intended purpose is. Is it a "sacred shrine of the sport?" Or is it rather a museum that is dedicated to preserving the history of the sport and honoring the best players to have played? I have always thought of it as the later of the two. Some of those eras and players, if they cheated, it is all part of the history, for better or worse. (And truthfully it was embraced by fans, administration and media of the time, and it wasn't "technically" outlawed from the game.) To be now "shamed" by those same writers who praised those same players back in the day is ludicrous in my opinion. Let them in. If they were suspected cheaters, such as Bonds and Clemens, note that evidence on their plaques and let people judge for themselves. But don't try to act like it didn't happen. It was a fun and magical time for fans. Those years and those players HAPPENED. Recognize that for what it was.

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