Thursday, November 29, 2012 at 7:20 AM

Hall of Fame for Bonds, Clemens and Sosa or End of Steroid Era in Baseball

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Notwithstanding all of the spectacular performances, the most compelling story in Baseball over the past 20 years has been the extent to which steroids fueled those performances.

For the record, I believe performance-enhancing drugs and sports have become inextricably linked, and that only latter-day puritans masquerading as “sports purists” could believe otherwise. Lance Armstrong’s final fall from grace this summer was the ultimate testament to this linkage.

This, in part, is why I welcomed yesterday’s announcement that Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa headline a list of 24 players on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. Because no three players have done more to rewrite the record books, but no three players have been more dogged by suspicions of steroids use – personifying what has become known as the steroid era.

Now January 9 – when the results will be announced – looms as a day of reckoning for Baseball (i.e., a referendum on steroids in Baseball). Candidates must be retired for at least five years and need 75 percent of the votes to be inducted. More to the point, members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will either vote based solely on these players’ Hall-of-Fame-worthy stats, or they will factor prevailing suspicions about their use of steroids into their votes.

Clearly, if it’s the former, Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa will be inducted in a landslide, and the steroid era will be vindicated. If it’s the latter, they will be denied in resounding fashion, and players will have the three most-persuasive reasons yet to stop taking steroids.

I fear they will be denied. This is based on the precedent voters set when they gave Mark McGwire only 24 percent – despite stats that made him eminently worthy of induction.

Granted, McGwire admitted taking steroids; whereas, Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa have steadfastly denied doing so. But the circumstantial evidence of their use is so overwhelming that most voters will probably find their denials more aggravating than mitigating.

I have written far too many commentaries over the years on steroids in Baseball to count. But as the 600 or so members of the Writers’ Association ponder their votes over the next month, perhaps they’ll consider the following excerpts from just a few of them:

Baseball ‘purists’ are so outraged that they are calling for all records set over the past decade to be eradicated because they were probably achieved by pumped-up cheaters. Yet these cheaters were the ones who rescued the game from almost terminal disinterest after the baseball strike of 1994. And team owners and fans alike knew full well that the sudden supernatural performances of once mediocre players did not result from pumping iron during that strike.

At any rate, so what if players take steroids. It’s, essentially, a victimless vice – far less poisonous than alcohol. And where steroid junkies usually endanger only fellow players on the field, drunks endanger all of us on the highway (and in so many other ways).

(“Baseball Is Juiced, So What!” The iPINIONS Journal, February 18, 2005)

Steroid use has flourished in Baseball and other professional sports pursuant to an open conspiracy among players and team owners to feed the gladiatorial lust of fans who want to see stronger, faster athletic cyborgs perform for their atavistic enjoyment. And, of course, the more fans revel in their steroid-fuel feats of athleticism, the bigger the players’ contracts (and even bigger the owners’ bottom line) become.

(“Baseball’ MVP … Is a Steroids Junkie, Duh!” The iPINIONS Journal, March 8, 2006)

Forget all of the talk about his use of steroids or putting an asterisk next to his name, Barry Bonds is the new home-run king of Baseball today – having blasted his 756th homer last night on his own field of dreams in San Francisco…

Just as the achievements of players like Babe Ruth have not been diminished even though they drank alcohol during prohibition, the achievements of players like Barry Bonds should not be diminished even though they took steroids during the steroid era.

So, asterisk this!!!

(“Bonds Should Be Cheered, Not Jeered As Baseball’s New Home-Run King,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 8, 2007)

Policing drugs in professional sports is not only Orwellian but utterly futile. After all … athletes have always, and will always, do or take anything that might give them a competitive advantage. And if what they do or take poses no harm to anyone except themselves, who cares?!

(“Decriminalize Drugs…Especially in Sports,” The iPINIONS Journal, August 3, 2006)

Related commentaries:
Baseball is Juiced
Baseball’s MVP … is a steroids junkie – duh!
Bonds should be cheered
Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball
Rafael Palmiero is a juicer too…?
Decriminalize drugs

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