Every year at this time — Baseball Hall of Fame balloting time — we get a plague of hand-wringing from baseball pundits about whether or not players suspected of using performance enhancing drugs should receive support for enshrinement.
For the record, I’m on the side that believes if there is a lot of evidence that the player did cheat (as in the case of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens), they do not deserve to be in the Hall.
But I feel sorry for guys like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell for whom there is no evidence, only suspicion. There will be other players on the fringe like this in the years to come. And that isn’t fair. I don’t blame the voters for this. I blame the players who did cheat, because we KNOW players cheated. With a few exceptions (Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettit), we just don’t know who.
Here is my simple solution: The players who did cheat should just fess up. Then the game can move forward. Man up, fellows. Anyone who didn’t confess, we’d take at his word. There will be some who still don’t admit it, but they’ll just have to live with themselves.
Imagine Roger Clemens calling a press conference on the day Hall of Fame voting results are announced:
The issue of PED use has plagued baseball long enough. This is not fair to the fans, and it is not fair to the players — my teammates — who played clean. That’s why I am admitting today that I did take PEDs for a significant part of the final decade of my career.
I know this may permanently exclude me from being elected into the Hall of Fame, but we need to set the record straight. I am calling for all players who took PEDs to join me in admitting what they did. It is the only way the game can move on.
Other players would come forward, first slowly, but soon there would be dozens and even more. This act by Clemens would in itself earn my respect and support for induction to the Hall. All it would take is a little courage.
But that’s why it will never happen. And that’s why players like Clemens and Bonds do NOT deserve to be elected to sports’ most honored shrine.