If Bud Selig isn’t worried, then he should be. The commissioner of baseball and his merry band of partners, aka owners, are staring down a triple barrel shotgun otherwise known as Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. The circus clowns who run the sport were more interested in their turnstiles spinning at record numbers than they were about the integrity of the game and now baseball is on the verge of being rocked right to its core.
Players like a Lenny Dykstra went from a relative 98-pound weakling to a Charles Atlas physique virtually overnight and no one, other than the keen-eyed fan, noticed, or even cared. Brady Anderson never hit more than 24 homers in any one season but in 1996 he goes yard 50 times and while sportswriters went berserk with questions, there was always silence from those in the palatial offices above the field.
Those were just a pair of early hints that something was amiss before all hell broke loose with power hitters as numbers became so skewed that Selig started buying tee-shirts that proclaimed, “Owners did the long ball,” for his rich and infamous brethren. Baseball had become a computer game with players as caricatures having arms like Popeye and heads that needed mattresses for pillows and it had nothing to do with their ego.
With just three swipes of a pen, an envelope and a stamp and a postmark by the end of the year, any one of the steroid trio could get enough votes to join the hallowed halls of the immortal even though they cheated their way in. Based on recent results, many of those who have the privilege of voting for the Hall of Fame have shown remarkable restraint when it comes to Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, the two most famous names associated with PEDs that have already received some backing. But this time is different. Very different.
Bonds has the best chance to get the necessary votes simply because he was on his way to 500 homers, a benchmark for Hall entrance, before his head grew to intergalactic proportions and a body that looked like he was on a three cheeseburger a day diet.
Clemens is another issue. From 2001 to 2005 the right hander went 81-30 with an ERA of 3.30 striking out nearly 1,000 batters in 1,037.2 innings. He twice had the best winning percentage and won an ERA crown too. Oh yes, he won a pair of Cy Young Awards and this all happened between the ages of 38 and 42. Now he simply won’t go away with all his court appearances and pitching in a league so low on the food chain that it is still searching for a letter classification at the age of 50.
Sosa? Anyone know where he is these days?
If just one player tied to PEDs gets in you can bet arguments will grow with each passing day right up to induction day in July. There is also a growing sentiment that current Hall members will boycott the ceremony which will take away from anyone else who might get in like Mike Piazza or Craig Biggio or a Veteran’s Committee selection. But what scares the bejesus out of everyone is that the door will be flung wide open to anyone who became a superstar via pharmaceuticals.
Finally, the little village of Cooperstown could become a ghost town because voters for Hall of Fame membership completely ignored BBWAA Rule 5 which states: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
To cast a vote for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire, Palmeiro or anyone else connected with the Steroid Era is to say that cheating on this scale is acceptable. And try telling players like Jack Morris, Tommy John, Dale Murphy, Lee Smith and Fred McGriff that they have to wait yet another year because some bat-crap crazy BBWAA voter thought a PED career had more integrity and character than a clean one.