Cheaters should be denied Hall admission
Updated: January 16, 2013 2:54PM
It is time for Major League Baseball to acknowledge what everyone knows, exposed by this year’s Hall of Fame vote when players with obvious Cooperstown numbers failed to get enough votes to be enshrined.
Cheating by players taking steroids was so rampant in the 1990s that the heart of the game — the statistics, which connect one generation of players to the next — was rendered meaningless.
Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa cheated when they battled it out in 1998 to break Roger Maris’ home run record. A jealous Barry Bonds cheated to set the all-time single season home run record and the career record. Roger Clemens cheated to pitch better at the end of his career than he did at its peak.
Those veteran players all had slam-dunk Hall of Fame numbers. Some had Hall of Fame careers before the doping started. And all of them were denied entry into Cooperstown by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America last week.
If I had my way, all of them would be banned from baseball, just like Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson. If there was a way to do it, I’d like to see their statistics removed from baseball history. Oh, Bonds can brag in bars about his 73-homer season and his 762 career homers. But I would like baseball to declare Roger Maris the best single season home run hitter ever with 61 and crown Hank Aaron as baseball’s all-time home run king with 755.
The statistics compiled by the cheaters can be just put down a memory hole, as George Orwell used to say.
Don’t get me wrong. I know cheating has been a part of baseball for a long time. My high school coach used to say that it is only cheating if you get caught. But he was referring to little things, like pretending you made the tag at third even if you didn’t or running out a dropped third strike even if it wasn’t a dropped third strike. As A.J. Pierzynski found out in Chicago’s most famous dropped third strike play, sometimes you get lucky.
Is that cheating?
How about when a catcher like Elston Howard would drop the ball in the mud to load up a spitter for a pitcher like Whitey Ford in a crucial moment in a close game? Or at least making the batter think that’s what he was doing.
There is a difference between giving your team an edge in a game through a feint or a battle of wits and taking illegal drugs for years so you can hit the most home runs and gain the most fame and the most financial reward.