Hall of Infamous

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds.

It’s not about morality with Barry in the slightest bit. It’s not that guys like Barry duped fans into believing they were heroes. It’s not that these guys brought shame to America’s past time.

I understand that Hall of Fame voting is partly determined by “character” but that isn’t why past steroid users should be kept out of the Hall.

This is about the question marks of their numbers. This is about the unknown, the unexplainable and the mystery. We have no idea what these all-time fakes would have done if not for their use of performance enhancers. The question mark surrounding what they have done is enough in itself to deem them unworthy of the Hall of Fame

I’m not exonerating the guys who cut balls with their belts, the spitballers and all kinds of other cheaters, but those guys are already in and that’s not going to change.

Steroid users gained a significant advantage. How significant is obviously up for debate but the uncertainty surrounding the level of significance is partly why these individuals should not be in Cooperstown.

People say that the “they cheated” narrative is simplistic and contrived.


I’m tired of the ol’ “everybody was doing steroids” narrative. Not everyone was on steroids. This article by Tom Verducci is a microcosm for the steroid era. A considerable amount of individuals were on the juice but there were also many who struggled immensely with the dilemma of whether or not to cheat. Whether or not to gain a significant edge over their competition.

Let’s assume for argument’s sake that the vast majority of players were on steroids. At least where I come from, majority doesn’t mean unanimous. The era was much more complicated than “everyone was doing steroids.”

Steroids skew the numbers. To illogically assume that everyone was juicing would be to ignore the historical aspect of the game, where numbers from eras past are still comparable unlike so many other professional sports.

Ken Griffey Jr. has never been associated with performance enhancing drugs. How does he stack up against the Barry Bonds’, Alex Rodriguez’s and Mark McGwire’s of the world? He stacks up incredibly favourably even when ignoring the possibility of PED’s. However, without steroids, where does he stand? It’s incomparable. I have no idea and neither do you. We could argue into the night but we wouldn’t get anywhere.

This is exactly the problem. Ken Griffey Jr. wasn’t doing it, at least we don’t think so. It isn’t fair to him that he is seen on a similar level to those who were clearly able to help their own cause through unnatural means.

What about Hammerin’ Hank? The Babe?

The dark cloud that hangs over those who have only been speculated to have taken performance enhancers should be enough in itself to keep a player like Jeff Bagwell out of the Hall of Fame. The absence of an outright admission or positive test doesn’t remove the unanswerable questions that will always follow that individual. For a player as good as Ken Griffey Jr. to have avoided any resemblance of a cloud over his head during that dreaded era shows that it wasn’t impossible to avoid that kind of speculation and the unanswerable questions.

How immense was the advantage of steroids? Do I really need to go over the same clearly inflated offensive statistics you have probably heard a thousand times again?

Don’t tell me that Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens would have been in the Hall of Fame anyway. You don’t know that. The fact that the numbers cannot be compared with former and future Hall of Famers because of the lack of knowledge surrounding the true effect of performance enhancing drugs is why no one can be certain of anything.

It’s not as if these individuals will be forgotten if they are not put in the Hall of Fame. Being such a big part of baseball history does not justify a spot for them in the Hall of Fame either.

It sometimes sounds like a segment of the people in favour of putting steroid users in the Hall of Fame want to do so only because they are tired of the debate. Personally, I don’t even think this should be a debate. Stellar careers were extended and made even greater into old age because of the technology. Fringe Major League players lost careers because other fringe players decided to go the steroid route.

I get that it must have been extremely difficult to choose the clean path. The best want to be the best and without steroids it was very hard to be the best during that era. Still, they knew what they were doing was wrong. Excusing them isn’t fair to those of the era who stayed clean and those in the past who weren’t exposed to the science of performance enhancing drugs.

Moreover, allowing the steroid era superstars into the Hall of Fame sets a terrible precedent. It opens doors that have no business being opened. No one seems to have considered the grave implications that admitting past steroid users could have on the inevitable future steroid users of Major League Baseball.

Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon have made it pretty clear that steroids are not out of the game for good. Technology is always improving and those who want to or feel as though they need to use will find ways to beat the system. What if a future Barry Bonds or Alex Rodriguez talent is found to have been using performance enhancers 30 years down the line? Welp, there goes your “everyone was doing it” argument.

The thing is, if you put the original Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Alex Rodriguez in the Hall of Fame, that means you have to put in the future all-time cheats of the world, doesn’t it?

It doesn’t have to be this way though. Don’t open Pandora’s Box.

It will only lead to no good.

Agree? Disagree? Reply in the comments section below or e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com

Also, you can follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

About Chris Ross
Questions, comments, suggestions? Send yours to cross_can15@hotmail.com. Follow me on twitter @paintstheblack

18 Responses to Hall of Infamous

    • Chris Ross says:

      I don’t put him in. Just because he admitted to it doesn’t change anything and I can’t be sure that he is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Again, more question marks about whether he did it for longer than he admits (much like A-Rod). What about you?

  1. Iraelite says:

    Excellent take Chris… I like so many sports fans am in a dilema on this issue. I see your point of view and I understand that with such a traditionally stats-centric sport as baseball, it is unfair to let those who have cheated be counted as all-time greats.

    On the other hand, baseball officials knew what was going on and even encouraged steroid use. The longball; the Sosa vs. Mc Guire race in particular, kept baseball relevant and profitable. Those who are ultimately resposible for maintaining the integrity of the game let the steroid users play and how can we pretend those homeruns were never hit or those K’s were never pitched, penants never won? How does the Hall of Fame tell the story of 90’s baseball if all of these great athletes are not enshrined? I guess we just let Jeter, Griffey Jr. (with a few others) in and call it a day.

    If the stats counted for a major league game, then they are either legit or not legit. If it is on the record books, then it happened and it should count. If these guys are not worthy because they cheated, then we should erase their records, accomplishments, resend their rings, etc.

  2. ademarch says:

    I understand your point of view, however, I feel that while PEDs may have inflated the numbers, placing a blanket over all players known to have used or those with a cloud over them is a mistake. Many players took performance enhancing drugs and we may never know all those who did. The lack of suspicion does not mean they didn’t do it. To my recollection Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez were perceived clean. This is why I feel that each player must be viewed as an individual and it is unfair to condemn an entire generation of players.

    Additionally, MLB tolerated the drug use during this time, it was not as if these players were suspended. Players like Palmeiro and Ramirez should not be considered for induction as they broke a rule of the game and were suspended, Bonds, Clemens, etc. did not. If baseball felt those connected with PEDs should not be inducted then a ban would have been placed, and this will never occur.

    I feel if a player is on the ballot they should be viewed on an individual basis and I think I clearly show this in my view of this years ballot: http://thegameofbaseball.wordpress.com/2013/01/08/my-hall-of-fame-ballot/

    • Chris Ross says:

      Just because they didn’t break a clearly expressed rule doesn’t mean it wasn’t wrong. Players knew it was wrong and that it gave them an advantage, otherwise, why would you do it? Andy Pettite and A-Rod were perceived clean up to a certain point, until overwhelming evidence forced both of them to give an apology and we still may not know the true extent of their PED use.

  3. stuartsj says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for stopping by my site to check things out. Good to find another fan of the game that is both passionate about it, and wants to share their thoughts in a prepared manner. I can tell you have put quite a bit of time into the manner.

    Since you visited my site and I’m guessing you read my HoF ballot as well, my disagreement with a lot of what you wrote should not come as a surprise. I used to be someone that was so anti-PED I didn’t know how to feel about Bonds, especially being a Giants fan, I was very conflicted. After doing a lot of reading, and observing conversations of other fans of the game, I am very comfortable with my position in where I stand.

    As many have suggested, we are finding ourselves having to question what the “Hall of Fame” means to us as fans of this great game. I guess mine would be somewhere along the lines of all the game’s greats, and the trailblazers for which today’s game is now possible. Other people are more “Small Hall,” or label themselves as “purists,” etc. I believe everybody begins being a “purist,” but it’s up to those people to be willing to listen and consider the science of PED performance (like how nothing’s been quantified yet in terms of what PEDs do, and the loudest screams I’m hearing is an observation of “less dingerz” vs. “moar dingerz,” as some in the crowd might say), and then decide if they will be staying in square one. Let that not be an endorsement for rampant PED use though, as I believe there is merit to the idea of baseball players serving as enough of a role model to the youth and PED’s abilities to mess up a child’s body as they grow up.

    I’m sure there’s a lot of other stuff we agree on, though. However, PEDs and the HoF does not appear to be one of them at the moment.

    Best wishes and keep writing,

  4. patton26 says:

    Because of PEDs, the question of “Is he or isn’t he” will be asked a lot. And because of that, I think someone juicing will sneak in but we won’t find out until after they are in. Then Pandora’s box will really be open.

  5. Great entry, Chris. I like what you’ve got to say here. Thanks for checking in on my blog as well. Much appreciated.

  6. Reblogged this on FANTASY FURNACE and commented:
    A thorough and relevant overview of a debate for the ages…

  7. Outstanding piece Chris! Well done!!

  8. They already have bigots , racists and rapists in Baseball’s Hall of Fame , so why not throw in some ” roiders ” for good measure ? It’s not as if baseball has any level of integrity or moral character left to it , to begin with ! You now have owners fleecing the fans and a hierarchy presided over by Bud Selig , who’s now trying to to get force baseball’s international governing body IFAB to merge with the ISF (Int’l Softball Federation) to strengthen baseball’s case for reinstatement at a future Summer Olympics .

    For a comical laugh read USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale latest piece ? Nightengale , who is also a member of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers Assoc of America) more poignantly that they should be called association of s$$holes , as to my mind , as where they , when the “steroid era” came to the forefront of the public’s conscience and curiosity ? Never mind the actions of Frank McCourt with the Dodgers ?

    Courtesy of USA Today , Bob Nightengale ….

    Nightengale: Bonds, Clemens belong in the Hall of Fame

    Click on link to read in full .

    Tophatal ……………

  9. verdun2 says:

    I am always fascinated by the idea that because “everyone else is doing it” that it’s OK to do whatever it is.
    Nice job.

  10. If you take Bonds’ career before 1997 (the year he allegedly told Griffey that was he going to start juicing), Bonds was still a Hall of Famer. By that time, he already had 81 WAR (according to baseball-reference.com), which is .5 less than Chipper Jones career total, who is all but assured as a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He had 3 MVPs, 334 HRs, 6 Gold Gloves and 4 Silver Sluggers. That 11 year stretch was arguably better than the entire 21 year career of Andre Dawson, the Hall’s last outfielder to get elected.

    I’m not a Bonds apologist. In fact, I loathe the man. But to say that juicing was what made him a HoF’er is a lie. The best comparison I have is to say that if we found out that Shakespeare may have plagiarized A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Othello, but their rest was his own work, we would still consider him one of the greatest playwrights ever.

    Anyway, thanks for checking out our blog and for offering an insightful point of view.


  11. aswingle says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog. I appreciate your insights on the situation. My problem with this whole Hall Of Fame/ Steroid situation is the numbers. We make numbers tell us what we want to hear. Statistics should be used as a reference point. They should not be used exclusively to make a decision. Here is what I know from what my eyes saw:

    From 1990-1997, the two best players in Baseball were Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey Jr. They were far and away better than anyone else in Major League Baseball at the time. Bonds achieved statistical milestones that merited his place in the Hall Of Fame. Using the character clause in the HOF voting guidelines as a reason to exclude Bonds is not legitimate argument. Do we punish Kobe Bryant for getting a career-saving surgery in Germany that is deemed illegal according to United States Law? No we do not.

    I enjoyed your post. I think you have some good insight. Keep up the good work.

  12. bklynboy59 says:

    Nice article, I agree that Griffey should get in and that he should be held with the same vein as Bonds and Clemens. But my problem has always been that Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Famers before they started juicing. The Juicing just made them immortals. Basebal has a full decade to figure this out and knew the day of reckoning was going to come and like always they didn’t want to make a stand so the Writers decided to make a statement and now Bagwell Biggio and Piazza will suffer as part of it.

  13. chuckneo says:

    Good take. Obviously this is an area of opinion and every fan’s take is different. Mine is different just because of how I view steroids. Personally, I view steroids as the next wave of gamesmanship that players have used. Just like Phil Niekro or Gaylord Perry doctoring balls, Pete Rose using amphetamines, Ty Cobb sharpening his spikes or King Kelly skipping second base when the lone umpire wasn’t looking. All these guys used what was available to them to get an edge.

    Was taking steroids right? Probably not. But the reasoning behind your argument above is that we don’t know how their numbers would stack up if they didn’t have that benefit. But we don’t know if Pete Rose would have broken Ty Cobb’s hit record if he didn’t have greenies to help him get through the long haul (I know he’s not in the HOF – but it’s for other reasons). We don’t know if Perry or Niekro win 300 games without doctoring baseballs. We don’t know if Ty Cobb would have stolen so many bases without sharpening those spikes. We don’t know what King Kelly’s numbers would have looked like if he hadn’t bent the rules when there were fewer umpires out there enforcing them.

    I’m not so much trying to say – “people used to cheat, so it’s OK”. It’s more like – why change the standard now? I think I know the answer – people are very offended that Clemens and Bonds and McGwire broke a lot of records. They’re offended that Roger Maris and Hank Aaron lost their records to people who had something that wasn’t available in the 60’s or 70’s. Just like people were offended that two guys broke Babe Ruth’s records in the 60’s and 70’s because there were more games and diluted pitching. Is it the same reason? Not, but the point is baseball folks got over that and I think eventually, this will happen to some extent with the steroid era. A lot of these players will get in someday. Maybe it won’t be for a while. Maybe it will be 2050. But I think 30 or 40 years from now we’ll look back on this and think “why’d we make such a big deal” – just like we look at the former asterisk by 61.

  14. klownboy says:

    I think Bonds (and Clemens) were robbed. He was a Hall of Fame caliber player before the alleged steroid use. The baseball writers need to chill.


  15. Cayman Thorn says:

    I do believe, having seen the ‘original’ Bonds play in the live, that he would indeed be in the Hall of Fame. Which is but one of the many shames of this era. He did not need the stuff to get there. Your post hits it where it needs to be hit. Very, very well done.

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