This time of year everyone who is a 10-year member of the Baseball Writers Association of America gets to vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Unfortunately I am not a member of the BBWAA and therefore do not get a vote but it doesn’t mean that as a fan I don’t have an opinion on who should.
First as a baseball fan of 40 years I have seen the entire careers of all these players with my own two eyes. I am not relying on stories, hearsay, bad grainy video or scratchy radio recordings to tell me about the players up to induction.
Secondly we are now starting to get into the players who were most influenced by the PED era of the game. Like many writers who are starting to come around I feel that there is a PED era to game that spans from at least 1990-2005, if not slightly before and beyond those years. In fact some feel it still exists today, as there is no agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association to test for HGH. There are HGH tests out there but like the other PED and standard drug testing it must be negotiated into the collective bargaining agreement.
With this I feel the PED era should be looked at as any other era in baseball or any other sport. Are Football Hall of Fame voters going to not vote for Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Drew Brees because they played in an era that featured the pass more than any other and they totally obliterated existing records? No they wont so why should baseball voters exclude players from the PED era?
Some of the players on the ballot or that will be on the ballot in the next few years are admitted PED users. Some were caught, some admitted after the fact. Other players fall under the bubble of speculation of using PED’s. Their names have been linked to various sources, trainers or teams that had heavy PED use but there is no failed test, no smoking gun or needle to actually label them as a PED user.
Then there are players who were no doubt clean but will pay in Hall votes because their numbers don’t pop off the page like another alleged PED user’s numbers. These guy sin any other era would be Hall members but they may lose out because some writers/voters are refusing to vote for anyone in the era regardless or whether they were linked to PED’s or not.
Would I rather see a clean game with no one using PED’s and let the numbers fall where they may? Sure I would but that is impractical as we’ve already experienced at least a decade and a half or an entire generation or players, who played in all or part of the PED era. I think these players should be voted for but that their plaques contain the note in it that played in an era when PED’s ran rampant in the game and that the numbers may be slightly higher than other eras. We already have “live ball” and “dead ball” eras so why not a PED era?
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Now looking at the list of players eligible for a vote for the Hall of Fame I came up with the 10 players I’d vote for. They are in alphabetical order.
1. Jeff Bagwell – A Connecticut native who went to the University of Hartford and was a top Red Sox prospect before being traded away to Houston where he played his entire career and a MVP Award. Some suspect he was a PED user and this speculation will no doubt cost him votes.
2. Craig Biggio – Bagwell’s Astro teammate and one-third of the Killer B’s (Bagwell and Lance Berkman being the others). Played 2B, C and OF in his career, got 3000 hits and nearly 300 HR’s and was always a gamer.
3. Barry Bonds – Probably the most feared hitter I have ever seen with my two eyes. I didn’t see Williams, DiMaggio or Ruth but this guy historians say is the equivalent of this generation. He is listed as the all-time career home run king, the single season home run king and won more MVP Awards than anyone can even hold. At one time was a base stealer and an above average outfielder but as well know he became embroiled in the BALCO scandal and opinions of him and his career changed.
4. Roger Clemens – What can you say about this guy’s career? More Cy Young’s than anyone can hold, 2 World Series rings, over 350 career wins. He is one of the three or four greatest pitchers of all time and if I were a betting man the others would be Bob Gibson, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux. The first one is a Hall member the other three will be. Highly suspected of being a PED user, charged with perjury by Congress and beat the rap.
5. Jack Morris – The winningest pitcher in the 1980’s he led three teams (Detroit, Minnesota and Toronto) to World Series titles and this side of Curt Schilling was the best big game pitcher I have ever seen. He didn’t get to 300 wins but he did so much more to earn the honor. He is not linked with PED use.
6. Dale Murphy – Probably the most overlooked two-time MVP in baseball history. This guy played a majority of his years with a bad Braves franchise and he excelled. One of the dangerous hitters in the game during his playing days he is not linked to PED use.
7. Rafael Palmeiro – Now here is the test case. 3000 hits, 500 home runs, wagged his finger at Congress and then failed a PED test and was suspended then basically run out of the game. His numbers have Hall of Fame written all over it. No one who is eligible that has 3000 hits and 500 home runs has ever been excluded from the Hall.
8. Mike Piazza – The best hitting catcher of all-time and he did it in two caverns, Dodger Stadium and Shea Stadium. He was better defensively than most give him credit for and he called a good game. He is linked through the Mitchell report to PED use.
9. Tim Raines – After Rickey Henderson, a Hall member, Raines is the best leadoff hitter in baseball history. Speed, power, decent outfielder, good hitter he did it all and did it well and toiled for many years in obscurity in Montreal.
10. Sammy Sosa – Over 600 career homeruns and along with Mark McGwire is credited with reviving baseball in the late 1990’s with their chase of Roger Maris’ single season home run record. His contagious smile and joy for the game made millions love him. Now many vilify him because of his links to PED use.
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