In 1994-1995, Baseball underwent possibly its darkest period since the Black Sox scandal of the 1919 World Series, a financial strike. Players’ protests caused the cancellation of over 900 games including the post season and World Series of 1994. Not more than five years later, huge names such as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa turned the game around. In 1998, McGwire’s 70 home runs and Sosa’s 66 dingers shattered Maris’s 37-year-old mark and baseball was alive again. Other individual achievements in Cooperstown historically left a mark in the late 90’s such as Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount being inducted into the Hall of Fame during their first year of eligibility for the first time since the Hall opened.
Just a couple of weeks ago, a winning candidate did not emerge from the balloting for the first time since 1996. With huge names like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire, some may wonder how any of them did not receive at least 75 percent of the vote; however, many understand exactly why; Steroids. Barry Bonds is the all time home run leader and Roger Clemens carries an outstanding resume with over 350 wins and over 4,600 strikeouts. To many baseball fanatics these feats are hard to look past, but according to Baseball’s Writing Association of America, it seems fairly easy.
As for other exceptional players such as Craig Biggio and every Mets fans’ favorite 21st Century hometown hero Mike Piazza, it seems pretty iniquitous that other players who have used steroids or Performance Enhancing Drugs are receiving votes and weakening their chance of admittance. This was Biggio’s first year of eligibility and he was closest to the Hall this year with 68.2 percent has over 3,000 hits, earning him 20th on the all-time hits list. A Hall of Fame spot for a seven time All-Star who played three different positions seems very equitable, but with the presence of other superstar names, with just 39 votes shy, Biggio was not elected.
Like Biggio, Piazza also appeared on the ballot for the first time. Jack Morris, second in this years votes with 67.7 percent, has been on the ballot 14 times as well as Bagwell for the third time, and Raines for the sixth. Players may remain on the ballot for up to 15 years as long as they receive five percent of the vote in any year.
Although those who have been found guilty for using PEDs are not close to being elected, it seems that voters have in fact been voting for these players more and more in the past few years. “Something to note about all of this is that the voters seem to be split. Bonds and Clemens both received over 30 percent of the vote, which is more than any other steroid-linked player has garnered. So even though the majority wants to keep steroid-linked players out of the HOF, not everyone does. If voters remain split in such a way, we could see multiple years in which no one is voted in.”(Irwin. Bleacher Report)
If the Hall is trying to keep all steroid users out of the Baseball Hall of Fame, why was there more votes than ever this year for players like Bonds who have been found guilty on trial? It seems a bit sketchy that these players are receiving such high vote percentages that possibly some of the committee members may soon receive attention. Following the BWAA Hall of Fame election announcement, Hall of Fame President Jim Idelson stated, “The Hall of Fame is a celebratory part of what we do. The baseball writers have been entrusted with the vote, they’ve done a great job, and at the end of the day we’re pleased and prepared to honor whoever they chose to elect.” In the years to come, we certainly will not know what to expect, but with steroid-linked players’ vote percentage increasing, it will without a doubt become tougher for those dirt free names such as Biggio, Piazza and Bagwell.
Irwin, Jonathon. “MLB.” Bleacher Report. N.p., 9 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.
“2013 Hall of Fame Vote a Shutout.” Web log post. Baseball Hall of Fame. N.p., 9 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.