In perhaps the most controversial Hall of Fame ballot ever assembled, the bodies who comprise the BBWAA have spoken. There will be no players enshrined into the sport’s hallowed museum in Cooperstown this year. Still in the initial stages of having to account for retired players from the “Steroid Era”, this year’s voters sent a very loud and clear message – The arrogance of an era tolls for thee.
Popularly suspected cheaters of the game came nowhere close to securing the 75% approval needed for enshrinement. Appearing on the ballot for the first time, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, titans of the game and unrivaled in their accomplishments on the field, fell woefully short of the vote percentile needed for election. Clemens, Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa many would argue are now reaping their just rewards. Some would also argue justice is prevailing.
But what of the case of Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell? Some writers have admitted without reservation, they are grouping Piazza and Bagwell in with the greater steroid population. While there has never been any credible evidence (or otherwise) to suggest Piazza and Bagwell were indeed using, or used, still, the voters have now opted for toe tagging legacies based purely on unadulterated, unfounded suspicion. Radical subjectivity my friend, is a very very dangerous condition. As the saying goes that life imitates Baseball, and Baseball imitates life, where then are our most basic institutions, principles, and processes headed if we now empower a voting body to follow a guilty until proven innocent doctrine?
Shame! I’m not going to name names because this is a greater issue than just two or more scribes with an opinion. But one local New York area writer with a vote said no to Piazza because he merely wanted to wait just in case any evidence did pop up in the future. A Boston writer said he wouldn’t be voting for Piazza or Bagwell because he didn’t like the way they looked. He said that in jest, but with double sentiment. He meant it.
We have entered a dark place. And it’s not the Hall of Fame.