It is known that “for every action there is a reaction.” In this case the action by the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) was denying 37 players the honor of being elected into the Hall of Fame. This is the first time since 1996 and only the eighth time in history for voting to result in a blank nomination list. The reaction was strong in the sports world; even strong enough for a message to appear in our email from a loyal reader. My original January Reader Choices, although interesting, did not generate the same interest and therefore this topic must be addressed.
The media, and many fans, were outraged for multiple reasons. First, many feel that the revision to the election process in 2010 led to washout in 2013. Secondly, and the much, much larger issue was the argument of the PED era affecting the players chances of making into the Hall of Fame. This ballot held many famous and favorite players whom are directly tied or associated with the use of steroids. It is the feeling of the general public that these players where not voted because of the association of drugs with this group of nominees. Yet there are many on the ballot that were not voted in and they had no association, expect for playing in the steroids era, with PED’s. Are these players not making it into the Hall of Fame because they played during an era and they might have taken a PED at some point in their career?
In order to answer that question you have to understand the rules of the Hall of Fame ballot. Once a player has been put onto the ballot they have 15 years to get voted into the Hall of Fame. If, at any point, they receive less than 5% of votes than they are removed from next year's ballot. In order to get voted into the Hall of Fame they must receive 75% of the votes in favor of induction.
In fact consider this...Out of the 37 names on the ballot 24 of them were first time nominees. This means that only about a third of the names have been on the ballot previously. Out of the 24 names that were first time nominees only six of them will be on the ballot again next year. Out of the 24 first time ballot nominees that received less than 5% approval votes the average fan will probably only know three to five of the names (none of them BIG names). The average fan knows all six of the first time ballot players that will be on the ballot next year. This means that the voters aren't rewarding non-PED users. Instead the voters are just delaying the decision to induce or reject these players the honor of the Hall of Fame. These players will have another 14 years, unless they receive less than 5% of the approval votes.
The question moving forward will be the public and media's opinion of the players involved in the PED era? If the players continue to be looked down upon there is a strong chance that the Hall of Fame will have a large gap of players between 1980 and 2005. Either that or the voters will start putting in second tier players. If the view starts to change and the voters realize the PED era is a part of baseball, it can't be erased, and it should be embraced, than some of the best players in the history of baseball can sit in the Hall of Fame. I am by no means endorsing the use of steroids. In fact I applaud baseball for the measures they have taken to eliminate steroids in baseball. I am merely suggesting that steroids are part of baseballs history. It is time to embrace that history, call it out in all the literature, trophies and displays for all I care but let this generations hero's into the Hall of Fame.
I know that McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens and Palmeiro cheated but they are my childhood hero's. They are the childhood hero's of millions. Keeping them out of the Hall of Fame doesn't erase history. It simply a matter of accepting that fact that a portion of baseball history was shaped by steroids. Make the users wait, 14 years if you want, but get them into the Hall of Fame by year 15. In the mean time consider getting Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell and Don Mattingly into the Hall. It was be a shame to have them fall off the ballot like Dale Murphy and Bernie Williams. Live, love and play like there is no tomorrow – thanks for reading!
The Marris Minute