Well, the new inductees to Major League Baseball’s Hall of Fame were announced yesterday. As usual, more discussion was generated concerning those who didn’t get in than those who did–in particular, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. There seems to be growing momentum for allowing in these two megastars, even though they were users of PEDs. The argument seems to be that while, yes, they cheated, they were were shoo-in hall of famers before they started taking the stuff.
Let me see if I have this straight. By this “logic,” Richard Nixon was a pretty good president before Watergate and so shouldn’t have been forced from office; a husband who has been faithful to his wife for 20 years should suffer no consequences if he decides later to cheat on her; and a successful Wall Street executive who chooses at the end of his career to bilk his clients out of their life savings should not go to jail.
This kind of “reasoning” makes no sense in any realm of human existence, so why should it hold sway when considering which baseball players deserve to be inducted into the Hall of Fame? One of the criteria for induction is that the player be of good character, after all. Cheating says exactly the opposite. Yes, it is a tragedy when those who are otherwise great throw their advantages away in a moment of weakness, but life is full of tragedy. Why should baseball be exempt?
Those who cheated with PEDs were able to prolong their careers, pad their stats, win championships crookedly, make astronomical salaries under false pretenses (not a dime of which has been repaid), keep honest players off rosters, rip off the fans who paid for fair competition, and destroy the integrity of the game, which depends in no small measure on the sport’s statistics … which are now hopelessly skewed.
And if we allow these cheaters into the Hall, what are we saying to young people who see them as role models? That it is okay–and even preferable–to cheat, even if you get caught? When did we completely dispense with the character-building aspect of sport? And when did we decide that pro baseball is indistinguishable from pro wrestling?
Keep them out.