On Wednesday voters for the Hall of Fame rejected the candidacy for every player eligible for induction this year. That has only happened eight times previously and the last time was in 1996. What is note worthy of this year is the result of the voting is not due to the players lackluster career statics. It’s the first big stand against the the greats of the steroid era.
If steroids are taken out of the picture there are a couple of sure fire first ballot Hall of Famers on this list. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mike Piazza statistically are no doubt first ballot Hall of Famers. What these guys did on the field was great and at times, for obvious reasons, unbelievable. For years Bonds hit at least 40 HR’s season while seeing only 4 pitches cross the plate a week. Clemens won a record 7 Cy Young awards and had over 300 wins and 4000 strike outs for his career. Piazza hit 427 HR’s playing catcher the majority of his career. Sammy Sosa hit over 60 HR’s in a season three times in his career but only received 12% of the votes.
Separate these stats from the cloud of steroids and these men would be remembered forever as titans of the game but no player will be able to escape the stain of the steroid era. Nor should they. Whether or not a certain player tested positive for steroids they will be looked at as if they did if their career spans anywhere from the late 80’s to the early 2000’s. Now the argument will begin of whether it is fair for these writer to vote that way.
For me the answer is simple, yes they all should come under the scrutiny that accompanies the steroid era. This became clear when I was talking baseball with a friend that is a little older then me. He asked me who I thought the best player of my generation was. I thought for a second and asked “steroids or not?”. He look confused for just a second and I realized he never had to ask himself that about any of the players he grew up watching. That’s what made it clear.
The great injustices of the steroid era is the haze it created surrounding greatness. What we were seeing on the field was excellence and yet we are all now uncertain if that’s what we really saw. We can’t trust our own eyes or memories and every great performance from here on out will be met with skepticism. Past generations have been able to tell their kids about their favorite players and how they saw one of the greatest ever. My generation doesn’t have that luxury. The Hall of Fame is about honoring the best of the best but if we can’t recognize greatness how can we honor them.