Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds Deserve to Be in the Hall of Fame
There has been a consistent problem with the placing of athletes, from any sport, on a pedestal: especially since, all of these people are human, meaning most of the time the higher placement solely results in a greater fall. This goes from everything like Ray Rice’s very public suspension to the trials after MLB’s ‘steroid era.’ Particularly, the latter has been extremely interesting in the last few years, with the biogenesis scandal and, more importantly, the question should steroid users be allowed in the Hall of Fame?
And while there is certainly a stigma of mistrust about baseball from the late 1980s to the late 2000s, it is time to seriously consider allowing this particular group of players into the Hall of Fame. However, as recent votes have shown, the selection percentages of steroid candidates — Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro and Sammy Sosa — has consistently decreased, suggesting that monumental athletes like Bonds and Clemens will never see the inside of Cooperstown, which is a downright shame.
But, in my opinion, to deny these players from the baseball Hall of Fame would be a disservice to fans, as well as, the MLB. As much as Bud Selig and the writers want to erase any notion of the ‘steroid era’ from the record books, it is here to stay: Roger Clemens is in the top ten in career wins, has seven Cy Young awards, one MVP and is number three on the all time strikeouts list. And Barry Bonds, a seven time MVP, also just happens to be the all time leader in Home Runs. Unless you are going to erase these statistics, these players’ names will forever be etched in MLB history. And for the most part, this should be recognized: if you want to put an asterisk next to their names that is fine, but like it or not, these athletes helped shaped baseball into what it is today.
While there is no reasonable correlation between steroid use and the increased revenue of the MLB, it is no coincidence that since 1995 the “MLB revenue has grown a staggering 264 percent in 18 years:” from 2.2 billion (after inflation) in 1995 to over $8 billion in 2013. And though a good chunk of this increase is from the Internet and television deals, a portion could also be placed on the shoulders of late 90s personalities: the 1998 home run chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire, which was later dismantled in the aftermath of the PED scandal, was originally a gold mine for the MLB.
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And I totally understand the argument that these players forever tampered with the game, resulting in a stigmatized view of the 90s. More importantly, it is hard to inform children on the negative side effects of the very powerful drug when their idols are taking it. However, after banning the substance in 1991, the MLB did very little to actually police the game: meaning Major League Baseball’s complacency allowed for the errors in the system. Therefore, the management should be blamed for the Wild West atmosphere, as much as the players.
On top of this, as many writers have pointed out, it is not like Cooperstown is hallowed ground in the first place. As Bill Pennington of The New York Times addressed, “a frequent line of thinking is that there is a critical difference between crimes against society and crimes against baseball. A player can, for instance, neglect to pay his income taxes and remain in the good graces of the Hall of Fame (Duke Snider, class of 1980), but neglect to run out routine ground balls and it will undoubtedly cost the player Hall of Fame votes.”
So if one was to truly look at the pasts of Hall of Famers, countless players have distinguished offenses that are worse or on par with the so-called steroid-takers. For instance, Ty Cobb the lovable psychopathic racist, who along with Hall of Famer Tris Speaker, “was implicated in a game-fixing scheme.” Not to mention, both were alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan: something widely believed, even if it was never proven. Even Orlando Cepeda’s 1970s drug charge did not prevent him from garnering his spot in 1999.
And what about the players that slipped through the cracks and made Cooperstown? There have been some allegations thrown around that Hall of Fame players were actively doping in the 70s and 80s: and what about some of the greats — Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays to name a few — who admitted to using amphetamines, which many deem to be a performance enhancing drug. So do you remove these legends from the Hall of Fame? I am not here to badmouth players who worked tirelessly to get in, but the writers and the MLB cannot continue with this hypocrisy of banning certain players from Cooperstown. So yes, in my opinion, both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserve their place in the Hall of Fame — with an asterisk if that makes you feel any better. Especially since, all the MLB and the writers would have to do is take a good hard look at their current stock to realize there are worse indelible marks than steroids.
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