Last week, the Baseball Writers Association of America voted in two of the 37 players eligible for the Hall of Fame. The two that managed to get the 330 votes necessary to enter Cooperstown in the summer will be Ken Griffey, Jr., and Mike Piazza.
Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines were close with 315 and 307 votes, but they have both appeared on the ballot before.
Growing up, Sammy Sosa with the Cubs, Mark McGwire with the Cardinals and Barry Bonds with the Giants electrified the highlight reels on ESPN’s SportsCenter.
So the question is, “Why aren’t they getting voted in?” Sosa, Bonds and Roger Clemens have all been on the ballot for four years, and McGwire’s name has appeared on it for a decade. What’s the deal with the BBWAA? Is the hall not open to those who helped inspire a whole new generation of kids to pick up a bat and a ball?
The problem is all of their highlights and all of their statistics are tainted with speculation that performance-enhancing drugs were used, or so a few key voters of the BBWAA would like to think. I was just a kid when the PED era started.
It might be the innocence of a child that we all used to possess, but these men seemed more than mere mortals to eight-year-old me.
There is no way that I could ever know 100 percent that one or all of these men used PED’s. The speculation is there, however, and it is that speculation that is keeping them out of baseball’s most prestigious club.
Baseball would like to portray itself as a timeless sport that is stuck in its golden era, long before anyone had heard of performance-enhancing drugs. The first class was elected to the hall of fame in 1936. The big names and bigger personalities of Walter Johnson, Ty Cobb, Christy Mathewson, Honus Wagner and the immortal George Herman ‘Babe’ Ruth.
These original five were inducted with without the aid of PED’s, and so should everyone else.
This is how many in the industry think, especially those in a position to vote for the hall of fame.
Others see that these players rejuvenated baseball. The 1960s and 1970s saw baseball go from being the national pastime to being second behind the NFL. The strike of 1994 did not help the matter.
The strike started in early August of that year and lasted all the way until April.
MLB was forced to cancel the remainder of the season, including the postseason and World Series. This was the first World Series missed since the National League’s New York Giants refused to play the American League champion Boston Americans, now known as the Red Sox.
These players helped get a whole new generation to want to love baseball. It is one thing to stand in the outfield in little league, and it is another to stand at the plate and swing for the fences while pretending you were Barry Bonds.
These players are a big reason baseball was able to come back and survive.
Mike Piazza was one of the two voted in this year, surprisingly.
Like Bonds, Clemens and McGwire, Piazza was suspected to have used PED’s in his career. Could he have somehow slipped through the cracks? Could this be a change?
Could the old guard start accepting that without hard facts to support their claims, they do not have a reason to keep these players out? We will have to wait and see what happens.