The rumors had been floating around for a while, but, as a baseball fan, I hoped they were untrue. The Baseball Hall of Fame voters were not going to vote anyone into the Hall of Fame in 2013. Today, those rumors came to fruition. On a charged ballot featuring the first time candidacy of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, no one was elected into the Hall of Fame. And, with that, the voters have turned their back on the era I grew up watching. This era has now been thrown out, for the use of PEDs. Instead of recognizing the best players of that era, the voters have imposed morality into baseball and left a big hole in Cooperstown.
Let me start with the leading vote getter, Craig Biggio. In a strange twist, Biggio outgained the two biggest names on the ballot, Clemens and Bonds, by almost double. Why, though, did the voters keep Biggio out of the Hall of Fame? Baseball is a game of numbers, and Biggio had the magical 3,000 hits for his career. On top of that, he also has more doubles than any right-handed hitter (668 – 5th All-Time), had a 50 double-50 SB season – a feat matched by no one (1998), won four Gold Gloves, won five Silver Sluggers, and led the National League in runs twice and doubles three times. Besides those eye-popping numbers, just look at a picture of Craig Biggio. He never used PEDs, yet he finds himself now guilty by association for the era he played in. Biggio is 20th in MLB history in hits. Of the 19 players ahead of him, 17 are in the Hall of Fame, 1 is currently active and is a sure fire Hall-of-Famer (Derek Jeter), and 1 is serving a lifetime ban (Pete Rose). Yet Craig Biggio, never accused of using PEDs, was kept out of Cooperstown today.
But, what about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? First, their vote totals that they got today were simply jokes. Bonds received 36.2 percent of the vote; Clemens was slightly higher at 37.6. Both men finished over 15 percent behind Tim Raines. To be clear, I’m not picking on Raines, one of the best lead-off men of his time. But, Barry Bonds is the All-Time Home Run leader. He hit the most Home Runs by a player in a single season. He won 7 MVP awards. If you were a GM and could get either in their prime, you’re picking Bonds. Roger Clemens won the Cy Young Award seven times. He led the league in ERA seven times. He is third all-time in strikeouts behind only Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. They were both clearly the best players of their days; the numbers clearly illustrate that. Instead, shrouded with the cloud of PEDs, they find themselves barely to halfway of the necessary 75 percent.
All of this can be traced back to the infamous 1994 baseball season. A strike wiped out the World Series, for the first time since 1904. When baseball came back the following season, lagging attendance came along with it from angry fans. Baseball needed a more exciting product. Enter PEDs, helping give that edge for more long balls and more in-park excitement. PEDs were being used in the late 90s and early 2000s, that can’t be denied. But the voters have decided to impose their morality and strike down what those players did. And, they extended it to everybody on the ballot today. Nobody was worthy of the Hall of Fame in this class? When you have the All-Time Home Run leader? When you have the pitcher who won the most Cy Young Awards? The voters are taking away the power of numbers, what we judge players by. However, it didn’t flip over to let guys in on character: good guy Dale Murphy failed to make it in on his 15th and final try. The Hall of Fame paints a complete picture of the game. But, without the best players of the late 90s, there will always be an incomplete picture, and an injustice to the fans who grew up in that era and who won’t see the best players they saw immortalized in Cooperstown.