The steroids suspects, namely Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmiero and Roger Clemens, were shut out of the Hall of Fame in voting this week, despite possessing statistics which outpace the usual standards for induction. The reason for the rejection, of course, is that the writers who vote don't think cheaters should be rewarded for cheating, at least beyond the tens of millions they earned after they juiced up.
Trouble is, nobody knows who cheated and who didn't. The guilty are admitting nothing. Was Ken Griffey, Jr. doping? You don't hear much about it, but for a while there, he hit home runs at an unheard of pace. There are many others I suspect. I am convinced that one very prominent Twins player was juicing early on.
Here is a story which claimes the sportswriters are hypocrites. The writer makes the good point that the steriods era probably saved baseball, as it renewed fan interest after the ridiculous labor disputes of the mid-1990s. As I can barely recall, the 1994 post-season was cancelled due to a strike. I can barely recall it because I was so disillusioned with baseball at the time that I quit following. It didn't hurt that the Twins were putrid at the time.
When they came back from the strike, the players juiced. When one player saw the millions earned by a player juicing, he was pushed to keep up as well. Suddenly, singles hitters became sluggers--and millionaires.
I had a steroid shot for allergies last summer. Wow! I felt like a million bucks. So, I can imagine the temptation. Man, if I could hit like Barry Bonds by taking injections--I might!
As far as the Hall of Fame goes, I think it will all shake out in the end. If our descendants feel Bonds, Clemens and the others were unjustly omitted, they can have a special vote. Maybe they can put them in "Steroids Corner."
Meanwhile, fans should remember that Roger Maris and Babe Ruth hit many of their 61 and 60 home runs during their most memorable seasons into the 340-foot short porch at the old, old Yankee Stadium (pre-1973 remodel), a right-center field fence built shallow specifically for Ruth, and built shallower than any other in the major leagues at the time. You could debate whether Maris' 61st home run would even have made it out of any other ballpark.
Another fact: Amphetamines were used in baseball for decades and decades. They were handed out like candy. They allowed players to play in pain and forget about their injuries. After their ban, I think we've seen a lot more players sitting down for injuries--which is proper, in one sense.
My way of coping with all this non-sense, and the additional non-sense of players all moving to high budget teams after they have a few good years, is to concentrate upon the game on the field. Joe Mauer's beautiful swing. Bryce Harper's panache. R. A. Dickey's knuckler. Jim Thome's moon shots. I concentrate upon the beauty of each game, the 1-0 complete game shutout, the double plays, the strategy. The defenses have never been better. Fielders are more acrobatic than ever before.
So, there is much yet to enjoy.
You just have to block out the baloney. For me, that baloney includes the Hall of Fame.