Steroids: Will MLB Rule or Weasel Out on HOF Question?

The Sultan of Swat & The Slugger of Certainty!

When Babe Ruth hit them, they were “no doubters,” home runs that left the yard with great certainty, big blasts that left no doubt they were departing the field from the very first crack of the bat. And when the Babe hit them, there was also no doubt that he took them out in spite of his poor physical appearance and apparent lack of conditioning, and in over-riding reaction to any most recent intake of alcohol, nicotine, or high fat food.

No one paid as much attention to Hank Aaron while he was doing it too, but Henry’s quiet home run march to the head of the pack in the early 1970s was also regarded with nothing less than respect from all his non-racist fans. It only drew a crowd once people, and especially the KKK-minded folks, realized that Aaron was on his way to passing Ruth, but it was no less an honorable journey as an individual accomplishment all the way.

Then everything changed in the early 21st century when Barry Bonds passed both Hank Aaron (755) and Babe Ruth (714) to register his record-breaking 762 long balls. By the Bonds era, all eyes were steadfast and fixed upon the steroid question and players with enormous muscles and large bulging heads. And when the formerly young and slim man named Barry Bonds hit number 762, it was like watching a ripped Giant Godzilla bobble head trotting around the bases in strutting celebration.

Bonds and the other list of suspect sluggers from the “Roids to Ruin” era in baseball history have already been convicted of steroids abuse in the public mind, even if none have yet to be found guilty in a court of law. Where this all leads eventually, I’m really not sure. I just don’t think it leads to enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I think the public mind convictions have already been sealed against home run sluggers Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmiero, and Sammy Sosa. I’m not as certain about Alex Rodriguez, even though he actually has admitted to brief past steroid use while the others mentioned previously have either denied it, cried innocence, blamed it on trainers, or simply refused to talk about it.

Roger Clemens is the biggest non-slugger name on the public-mind-conviction list in this issue and most probably also will suffer the same fate as the others: denial from the Hall of Fame because of suspected, but not necessarily proven steroid abuse.

I don’t see any other way this is turning out. Do you? And I think MLB still holds on to the denial-driven fantasy that it will just go away over time. Meanwhile, one of the avoidance paths baseball may take is to simply avoid the larger question: Should conviction of steroid abuse keep an otherwise qualified player out of the Hall of Fame? Instead of taking an active position, they will allow their voting minions to simply settle the matter by not voting for Barry Bonds or the others on that list.

Not voting for Bonds may look like an active MLB position, but it isn’t. It’s the weasel route.

The problem with the “weasel route” is that we don’t know for sure how low and for long it will float down the list of future candidates. How many future eligible players will be denied a vote because a few voting weasel writers have a flickering thought that the guy looked too muscular to have come by his skills and accomplishments honestly?

Check out the list of Baseball’s top 100 career home run leaders and, without regard for who’s already in and who’s not, ask yourself: Is there anyone else on the list who might have trouble getting HOF votes because of his appearance during his prime playing days?

I see a few, but I don’t want to spoil your own impressions by offering mine here. The question here is for you: Are there other top sluggers from this list who may be kept from the HOF because they register in the public memory as suspected steroids users?

Please record any comments you may have below as comments on this article. Here’s the list:

Top 100 Career Home Run Hitters through 2010:

Rank Player (2010 HRs) HR
1 Barry Bonds 762
2 Hank Aaron 755
3 Babe Ruth 714
4 Willie Mays 660
5 Ken Griffey, Jr. 630
6 Alex Rodriguez (30) 613
7 Sammy Sosa 609
8 Jim Thome (25) 589
9 Frank Robinson 586
10 Mark McGwire 583
11 Harmon Killebrew 573
12 Rafael Palmeiro 569
13 Reggie Jackson 563
14 Manny Ramírez (9) 555
15 Mike Schmidt 548
16 Mickey Mantle 536
17 Jimmie Foxx 534
18 Willie McCovey 521
Frank Thomas 521
Ted Williams 521
21 Ernie Banks 512
Eddie Mathews 512
23 Mel Ott 511
24 Gary Sheffield 509
25 Eddie Murray 504
26 Lou Gehrig 493
Fred McGriff 493
28 Stan Musial 475
Willie Stargell 475
30 Carlos Delgado 473
31 Dave Winfield 465
32 José Canseco 462
33 Carl Yastrzemski 452
34 Jeff Bagwell 449
35 Dave Kingman 442
36 Andre Dawson 438
37 Vladimir Guerrero (29) 436
Chipper Jones (10) 436
39 Juan González 434
40 Cal Ripken, Jr. 431
41 Mike Piazza 427
42 Billy Williams 426
43 Jason Giambi (6) 415
44 Darrell Evans 414
45 Albert Pujols (42) 408
46 Andruw Jones (19) 407
Duke Snider 407
48 Andres Galarraga 399
Al Kaline 399
50 Dale Murphy 398
51 Joe Carter 396
52 Jim Edmonds (11) 393
53 Graig Nettles 390
54 Johnny Bench 389
55 Dwight Evans 385
56 Harold Baines 384
57 Larry Walker 383
58 Frank Howard 382
Jim Rice 382
60 Albert Belle 381
61 Orlando Cepeda 379
Tony Pérez 379
63 Matt Williams 378
64 Norm Cash 377
Jeff Kent 377
66 Carlton Fisk 376
67 Rocky Colavito 374
68 Gil Hodges 370
69 Ralph Kiner 369
70 Paul Konerko (39) 365
71 Joe DiMaggio 361
72 Gary Gaetti 360
73 Johnny Mize 359
74 Yogi Berra 358
75 Greg Vaughn 355
76 Adam Dunn (38) 354
Luis Gonzalez 354
Lee May 354
79 Ellis Burks 352
80 Dick Allen 351
81 Chili Davis 350
82 David Ortiz (32) 349
83 George Foster 348
84 Ron Santo 342
85 Jack Clark 340
86 Tino Martinez 339
Dave Parker 339
Boog Powell 339
89 Don Baylor 338
90 Joe Adcock 336
91 Darryl Strawberry 335
92 Todd Helton (8) 333
93 Moisés Alou 332
Bobby Bonds 332
95 Hank Greenberg 331
Carlos Lee (24) 331
97 Shawn Green 328
Mo Vaughn 328
99 Lance Berkman (14) 327
100 Jermaine Dye 325
Willie Horton 325

2010 HR totals are shown on above list in parentheses after active player names.

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One Response to “Steroids: Will MLB Rule or Weasel Out on HOF Question?”

  1. Tom K. Says:

    Your article raises the question of how people are voted into the Hall of Fame. Under HOF rules, only members of the Baseball Writers Association of America are eligible to vote. Rule 3E clearly states: “Any player on (Major League) Baseball’s ineligible list will not be an eligible candidate.” Of course, good luck finding that list. We know Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose are on it, but I don’t know who else is. I do know who is not on the list — McGwire, Sosa, Clemens, Bonds, Palmeiro etc. As long as Major League Baseball doesn’t put any of those players on the “ineligible” list, then MLB has no direct control over whether any of them will go into the HOF. It’s won’t be up the Hall of Fame either. It entirely will be up to the baseball writers. (Voting on veterans from more than 20 years ago is a whole other matter.) And the HOF rules do instruct the voters to consider “integrity, sportsmanship (and) character” in making their votes. I know it seems as if MLB is taking the “weasel route,” but what else can MLB do as long as they don’t put Bonds, Clemens etc on the ineligible list? And what else should the HOF do? Should they remove integrity, sportsmanship and character from the voting criteria? Should they appoint someone other than the baseball writers to vote? I agree there is controversy on how the HOF members are chosen. I’m just not sure what a better system would look like.

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