July 31, 2018
By: Dan Fremuth
Over the weekend, six very deserving members were elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame - Vladimir Guerrero, Trevor Hoffman, Chippers Jones, Jack Morris, Jim Thome, and Alan Trammell. In addition to all being tremendous ballplayers, these six also have something else in common - they were never linked to steroids.
For the past 10 years, we’ve reached Hall of Fame time in late July and each and every year, I find myself torn on the subject of how to handle those linked to performance-enhancing drugs and their place among the game’s greats. Some of the greatest players of my generation, and quite frankly, some of the game’s all-time best, remain outside the walls of Cooperstown.
Can you really and truly have a collection of baseball’s best players ever without names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Even if you don’t recognize Bonds as the all-time home run king, he’s still a 7-time National League MVP, including three times (1990, 1992, 1993) before steroids were part of the game. Meanwhile, Clemens was a five-time All-Star (1986, 1988, 1990-92) and three-time Cy Young winner (1986, 1987, 1991) before the mid-90s.
In my mind, there’s simply no question these players used performance-enhancing drugs but so did so many other players during that same era, including, I would wager, several who are currently enshrined in Cooperstown. The point is steroids were so prevalent during that time, where do you draw the line?
As it stands this year at least, I would like to see these players in the Hall of Fame. And I don’t want their plaques in a separate room and I don’t want any asterisks next to their names either. Put Bonds and McGwire and Sosa right alongside Thome, Trammell and Guerrero.
Their accomplishments are legitimate for that time. All the numbers from that era were bloated. We’ll never know exactly just how many players were “doping” but I would wager any of our estimates would be understatements of the reality.
This is not to say I respect these players or their choices. I’m also not particularly a fan of any of the aforementioned juicers. I simply think it’s time for baseball to put aside its holier than thou attitude and acknowledge their accomplishments.