Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and the Moral Scolds of the Baseball Hall of Fame
|Say it ain't so, Hank. Say it ain't so.|
It's just not about Biggio or Bagwell. Barry Bonds is one of the greatest baseball players ever. It's taken as a given that he started on the PEDs after the 1998 season when the press and fans put McGwire and Sosa on the pedestal of all that was right about baseball. Bonds was a far superior player, hitting for power, for average, stealing bases, a great base runner with good range (and so-so arm) in the outfield. But the fans and media made Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa the stars, the faces of the game, so Bonds started on the PEDs to be like them, to win the adulation, and now the moral scolds are punishing him for trying to meet the standards of success they set.
It's never been proven that Jeff Bagwell used steroids. It's not been proven with Roger Clemens either. There was a trial that took months over whether Clemens lied to Congress about PED use. Clemens won the trial. So the writers need to back the hell off and do their jobs. Either they need to produce definitive proof that Clemens used (and Bagwell too) or they need to put him in the Hall because he is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history. And it shouldn't even matter if he did use PEDs. I thought winning games and helping the team was what mattered (Gaylord Perry is celebrated for winning and cheating) and Clemens did that. He won games and helped his teams achieve success.
Yes, there's that whole morals clause to be considered, that bit about playing the game with integrity and character. But seeing as how Cobb, Perry, Whitey Ford and a whole of bunch of other guys who probably couldn't spell morals if they were spotted the m-o-r-a-l are in the Hall the question is, why have the writers turned moral scolds now?
The Hall of Fame's a building. Inside the building are plaques saluting and honoring the greatest players of the game. Some of these guys lied. Some cheated. Some broke the law. Some used illegal substances. The building's still standing. The records are still records. The game of baseball is still the game of baseball. So spare me the sanctimonious indignation.