No one whose performance was enhanced by drugs should be in the Hall of Fame. By all means, let's boot out the Beatles, the Stones and nearly everyone else from the Rock and Roll Hall.
OK, so maybe writing about "tangerine trees and marmalade skies" while tripping on acid isn't the same as bashing 460-foot home runs after injecting steroids into one's gluteus.
But the rationale baseball's Hall of Fame voters hide behind is still misguided. Here's a lineup of players left out of the Hall this year:
Baseball's all-time home run king and a seven-time MVP (Barry Bonds);
The best right-handed pitcher since Walter Johnson, with 354 wins (Roger Clemens);
The greatest hitting catcher in the history of the game (Mike Piazza);
A Gold Glove second baseman with more than 3,000 hits (Craig Biggio);
The fourth player ever to reach 3,000 hits and 500 home runs (Rafael Palmeiro);
At least half-a-dozen other statistically deserving players (Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent).
All of the above have one thing in common: They played during the Steroid Era.
Palmeiro was the only one who tested positive. A few admitted to steroid use, willingly or under court order. For many, there is merely suspicion. Others were simply guilty of playing in the wrong time and find themselves in a backlog of players with voters unsure about what to do.
I completely disagree with what mlb.com's Ken Gurnick did in casting a ballot consisting of only Jack Morris, refusing to vote for anyone from the height of the Steroid Era (although that makes more sense than the idiot who voted for Armando Benitez).
But I respect Gurnick's honesty in admitting he has no idea who was clean and who was juicing.
The rest of the voters would rather rely on some otherworldly ability - Tarot Cards? Tea leaves? Magic 8-Ball? - to divine exactly who cheated and who didnt.
So Greg Maddux is in; Clemens is not. Frank Thomas is in, Bagwell is not. Tom Glavine is in; everyone else is not.
Are we really 100 percent sure Maddux never did steroids because he wasn't a very a big guy? Know who else wasn't very big? Palmeiro.
Are we really 100 percent sure Thomas never did steroids because he was huge even when he played college football? Know who else was huge? Tony Mandarich, and scores of other steroid-using football players.
Are we 100 percent sure Glavine never used steroids because he said he didn't? Know else has done that? Lance Armstrong, and pretty much everyone else who eventually copped to PED use.
Let's be clear, there's no evidence to suggest Maddux or Thomas or Glavine juiced. I doubt they did. In fact, I'd be shocked to learn that any of them did.
But I'm smart enough to realize I don't know everything.
And as much as I despise the notion of someone getting an unfair advantage over someone else, I go along with the ages-old legal premise that it's better to let 10 guilty men go free than for one innocent man to suffer.
Clemens probably knowingly injected his derriere dozens of times. But he has sworn in a court of law he didn't. What if he's telling the truth?
Palmeiro probably systematically used and lied. But he said he merely got a tainted vitamin shot from a teammate. What if he's telling the truth?
And where, exactly, is the hard evidence against Piazza or Bagwell or others?
There is little doubt that baseball's Hall of Fame already has enshrined steroid users and even more despicable characters, not to mention those who benefited greatly by playing in other, less-enlightened eras. (We don't hold against Joe DiMaggio the fact that he didn't have to face Satchel Paige in his prime or against Bob Feller that he didn't have to pitch to Josh Gibson).
Gurnick's approach was to bar the Hall doors for everyone who played during the Steroid Era. But that method unfairly punishes players who absolutely did it the right way.
Better to open the doors wide and let everyone in, because no one knows for sure what the players were doing in bathrooms before games or in health clubs during the offseason.
All any of us really know is what they did on the field.
A the Times, we take some abuse from parents and coaches every season year when we pick our high school players of the year and our all-county teams because we state flatly that we do not care what happens off the field.
A kid didn't practice hard? OK, how many yards did he rush for. A kid cursed out her coach? OK, how many points per game did she average? A kid used drugs? OK, how many goals did he score?
One of the reasons our teams differ from the all-conference teams picked solely by the coaches is that some of them champion "good kids" over the ones they don't like.
That's their prerogative. But all we really know is what we see.
If a quarterback is throwing four touchdown passes every Friday night I'm not going to downgrade him based on innuendo any more than I'm going to elevate a 4.0 student who helps old ladies across the street but can't complete a pass.
It's hard enough to determine whether a player did enough on the field to warrant a spot on the all-county team (or in the Hall of Fame) without playing amateur sleuth and casting judgment on character.
I've never been a huge believer in the wisdom of crowds. (I will generally buy music or see a movie or read a book on the recommendation of an expert or a trusted friend rather than the ratings of the masses.)
But sportswriter Dan Le Batard allowed Deadspin to turn in his ballot based on popular vote and the fans opted for Bagwell, Biggio, Bonds, Clemens, Glavine, Maddux, Martinez, Piazza, Schilling and Thomas.
A case can be made that those were the 10 best players on the ballot. Clearly, that ballot makes a lot more sense than Gurnick's or anyone's who purported to include only "clean players."
The fans didn't turn into a CSI unit or the morality police. They simply voted for the best players.
They figured it's better to let 10 Bondses in than to keep anyone out based on potentially erroneous suspicion of PED use.
Not a bad idea, huh?