That Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame was no surprise. But with Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa entering their second year of eligibility for induction without coming close to being selected, the voting system is increasingly being questioned.
Each year qualified members of the Baseball Writers Association of America are given a prescreened ballot of eligible candidates to select into the HOF — eligible being the key word. They are asked to select ten HOF-worthy players on their ballot. If a players’ name appears on 75% or more of those ballots, they’re in. If they show up on 5% or fewer, they’re dropped from all future ballots. If somewhere in the middle, they have to wait a year.
The 2014 class was announced today — and those that got in deserve it. Maddux and Glavine formed one of the scariest pitching staff’s in baseball history during their stretch with the Atlanta Braves in the 1990’s. And Thomas was one of the most imposing hitters to step into a batters box during the 90’s and into the late 2000’s — mostly with the Chicago White Sox.
With those left out, it’s a different story. If Bonds and Clemens are on the prescreened ballot, why are they not being voted in? Their numbers are just as scary as any of their elected colleagues. The answer, in a word, is steroids. Both were caught and/or admitted to using steroids during their tenure in MLB.
MLB needs to step in and either declare an indefinite hold on their eligibility for the HOF, as they’ve done with one of baseball’s greatest, Pete Rose, or make it known that Bonds’s, Clemens’s, Mark McGwire’s and Sammy Sosa’s candidacies are as legitimate as anyone else’s. In the first place, they did their doping when it wasn’t even outlawed in the game; in the second, they are all titans at their positions, assured a place among baseball’s greatest even without a Cooperstown nod. No one will forget about their steroid use if allowed into the Hall of Fame. (And what about, we ask, the players certain to be getting into the HOF who used steroids, but never got caught? Where does the line get drawn? A full moratorium on entry until every last ex-pro has confessed his sins?)
If MLB wants to keep them out forever, they can. No need to string them along. After all, dilly-dallying by the top brass here just devalues the induction for anyone who does make the cut.