Now that the Class of 2014 has been announced, we are also being inundated with the arguments about PEDs and the Hall. Unfortunately, as much as we can argue that either the Hall should be pristine, or the writers are a bunch of self righteous moralist, I don’t believe we will ever come to any sort of agreement. How do you deal with an era where numbers were putting put up that dwarf those of the current Hall members, but many of the players may have been cheating, only you don’t know for sure which ones?
Could we try and do what Bob Costas suggests, only vote for players who would have been Hall of Fame players even without PEDs? I don’t see that as a possibility. Sure, we can argue that Roger Clemens was a great pitcher regardless, but do we really know that? Do we know his PED use started at “x” date and then look at his numbers prior to that date? We don’t know what “x” is though. What if he started PEDs in college? Does that still make him a HOFer without the assistance of drugs? That’s thje problem with voting some guys in and others not, we assume that we somehow know who was clean, who wasn’t, and when the started cheating. We don’t.
Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas all seem like guys who didn’t take any performance enhancing drugs, so they were popular picks and have been elected, but again, do we really know that they were clean?
To me, there’s only two consistent choices, don’t vote for anyone who played after 1990 or so, or ignore PEDs and vote based on the evidence in front of you about their careers. The problem with the first, as we can still see today, is that the sport isn’t clean, and may never be 100% clean, so you’d really have to shut down the Hall and quit electing anyone new. So the better choice might be to simply elect the Bonds, Clemens, McGwire’s etc. of the world.
Then, put up a permanent exhibit that talks about the use of performance enhancing drugs during the last couple of decades, right next to all of the busts of players from this time.
Either way, though, as a casual baseball fan, I just don’t care all that much about the Hall of Fame, and never really have. Does Steve Garvey not being elected change my memories of rooting for the Dodgers in the 70s and early 80s? Not in the slightest. Would his being in the Hall give those memories to younger people who never saw him play? Maybe, but looking at the list of guys who were elected, there are a bunch I have never heard, and couldn’t tell you anything about, of despite their presence in the Hall.
So, it’s not really the end all be all, is it? Not electing Bonds to the Hall doesn’t really change what happened and how we all choose to remember it. So what difference does it really make?