LOS ANGELES, July 24, 2013 — The Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is hosting its annual Induction Weekend ceremonies this weekend in Cooperstown, NY. The steroid era is now at the point where it is affecting the Hall of Fame classes. Cooperstown may or may not be in trouble depending on with whom you are talking.
In January, the only people voted in were Hank O’Day, Jacob Rupert and Deacon Jones, the only actual player among the three. All of them have been dead since at least 1939. Players from the steroid era all fell substantially short. Craig Biggio received the highest percentage, 68.2% of the needed 75%, in his first year of eligibility. Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, however, received less than 40% of the vote, also in their first year on the ballot.
Former MVP, Ryan Braun was suspended on Monday for the rest of the season due to his connections with the Biogenesis anti-aging clinic. Baseball is trying to get clean, but it is obviously not there yet.
Nearly every player who played the majority of his career between 1988 and the present will have a question mark associated with their achievements. Some of these players have already been proven steroid users. Some have been accused of using steroids, but not proven. Others have not been accused, but the numbers they put up raise suspicions at the very least. Then there is a small number of players who probably never used steroids and still competed at a HOF caliber.
The question is, how do you figure out who the good guys were and who the steroid users were? The answer is simple, you do not. You want to, but you cannot, at least not with any real certainty.
Another question then arises. What do you do with the Hall of Fame? You do not want to vote cheaters in, but you also do not want to have year after year with a repeat of 2013.
What would that do to the village of Cooperstown? According to Patricia Szarpa of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, there has not been a real study on the effect of Induction Weekend festivities on the local economy. This year will be used to gage that effect.
An average of 15,000 to 25,000 fans make the journey to Cooperstown for the induction weekend’s festivities each year. The village was flooded with over 80,000 people when Cal Ripken was inducted in 2007. This actually ended up having a negative effect on the store owners, as it was simply too crowded for any real shopping to be done.
From Szarpa’s conversations with local merchants, as far as the village of Cooperstown is concerned, this year’s meager class should not affect the local economy.
With 100 different youth baseball teams arriving each week to play games in the village during the summer, Cooperstown is an already busy hub. Add to that an average of 350,000 to 400,000 visitors who regularly visit the Hall of Fame throughout the year, the local economy will be seemingly unfazed by this year’s lack of players being inducted to the Hall.
This leaves open the problem of what to do with the steroid era players and the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame.
A possible solution could be to create a special section for players of this era, complete with an explanation of what occurred during these years. Explain that steroids were prevalent. Explain that no matter how you slice it, you can never be sure of who gets in as a clean player and who does not due to steroids.
Explain that these players are the best of an era that is clouded by the suspicion of steroids. Many players were using steroids, but not all of them put up HOF numbers. The best of the best are the ones who get in. From Barry Bonds to Greg Maddux, everybody now becomes eligible for induction. The conversation can return to questioning which players put up the best numbers, period.
There will be no need to wonder if Barry Bonds knew what he was rubbing on himself. No need to care if Clemens had his personal trainer inject him with drugs. Jose Canseco? Well, everyone knows about Canseco. Perhaps Canseco gets special honors for blowing the door open on steroids. It turns out that his only fault was telling the truth. Do fans need to care anymore why Eric Gagne went from a dead end career in the minors to one of the most dominant closers the game has ever seen? Not anymore. It is done, it happened, let us move on.
There is a special room for these guys now. Was Greg Maddux using steroids? It is highly doubtful. No one has even suggested that to be the case. Unfortunately he played at the wrong time with the wrong people. Maddux will be one of the victims of his era, but enshrined in the Hall no less. After all, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame is a museum. Museums are supposed to be a reflection of history.
There is something that needs to be done before the steroid era players gain entrance. Pete Rose needs to be enshrined in the same building as his peers. Although, it might be better for the village of Cooperstown if they can avoid the extreme crowds that would take over the village to see Rose inducted.
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