3:12 PM EST, January 9, 2013
The voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America pitched a shutout in this year’s Hall of Fame election and delivered a not-so-surprising repudiation of baseball’s tawdry steroid era.
Maybe that was the right message to send to a sport that was awash in illegal performance-enhancing drugs during the 1990s and early 2000s, but it also came with a few ounces of injustice for those borderline candidates who were not implicated in the scandal. The now-popular notion that “everybody was doing it” might not be far from the truth, but there were players on this ballot who were not implicated in the scandal and deserve to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Though I suspected that the group-think of such a large number of voters might lead to this outcome, I believed there was a chance that pitcher Jack Morris might be a deserving default candidate for voters who wanted to send someone to Cooperstown in July. Morris didn’t miss by that much last year and was the second-leading vote-getter behind Craig Biggio this time.
Now, the question is whether the likes of Morris and Biggio will ever get in on the BBWAA ballot, because the percentages garnered by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens seem to indicate that there is a significant faction of the BBWAA voting body that still voted for them and there will be additional voters in ensuring years who left them off their ballots this year simply to make a statement about the steroid era.
I suspect that both Bonds and Clemens will increase their vote percentages over the next few years and eventually reach the 75 percent threshhold necessary for induction. Whether that’s right or wrong is a matter of sometimes passionate opinion, but it certainly will divert attention away from the other borderline candidates, which I believe is an injustice.
Morris is a deserving candidate who might have been elected if this year’s ballot had not been glutted with steroid-era stars. Here’s hoping that the voters do not let the steroid backlash block out the sun forever.
Editor’s note: Peter Schmuck is an eligible Hall of Fame voter, but did not cast a ballot because The Baltimore Sun’s ethics policy prohibits reporters and columnists from voting for postseason awards, Hall of Fame elections and ranking polls.
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