Page 2 of 2 Previous

Continued: The Hall of Fame's darkest era

Debates about Hall of Fame worthiness should focus on statistics, not on drug tests. Yet, on Wednesday, results of the biggest referendum to date on the Steroid Era will be revealed.

That's the day the Hall of Fame will announce which players, if any, have been elected for enshrinement. This year's ballot, which had to be submitted by Dec. 31, includes first-time eligibles Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa, all no-brainers for Cooperstown if the decision were based solely on their statistics.

But there's this little, stuffed, brown envelope the Hall of Fame mails to voters that includes a cover letter, ballot, stat pack and rules. The page of rules includes the following: "Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played."

And therein lies the rub for the approximate 600 voting members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America, who can vote for up to 10 players on their ballot. A player must be named on at least 75 percent of the ballots received.

St. Paul native Jack Morris is among the former players with a chance of being elected, but no one knows how the addition of players from the Steroid Era will affect his candidacy.

The Hall of Fame's guidelines on voting haven't changed since 1946, and Jeff Idelson, president of the Hall of Fame, has reminded everyone that it is a museum and not a courthouse.

"As a museum, we look at every subject through the prism of history," Idelson said. "Our job is not to create history; it is to document and present it."

But some voting members wish the Hall of Fame would provide some direction.

"The voting system isn't damaged or dysfunctional; it's broken, and will be until the Hall of Fame's board of directors opts to replace the outdated instructions on voting," said Phil Rogers of the Chicago Tribune. "Steroids were an attack on the integrity of the sport, and the players who took them knew they were doing wrong or they would have taken them openly, and no one did.

"I don't see how I can vote for a known steroid user, given the integrity clause in the instructions. Any player directly linked to steroids won't get my vote. So until the Hall updates the voting guidelines, if I vote for a cheat, it will be for a good cheat, not a known cheat."

The problem

Voters have to wrestle with incredible statistics, plus a mix of fact and innuendos when it comes to performance-enhancing drugs:

• Bonds hit 762 career home runs and won seven National League MVP Awards. During his 2003 appearance before a grand jury, he claimed he unknowingly took steroids and ended up being convicted of obstruction of justice during his appearance. But the book "Game of Shadows," written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, painted a picture of Bonds as a willing PED user.

• Clemens won 354 games and seven AL Cy Young Awards. But he was linked to PEDs in the 2007 Mitchell Report, and a former trainer claimed that he injected the fireballer with PEDs. Clemens attacked the accusations during a Senate hearing and later was tried on six counts of perjury, of which he was acquitted.

• Sosa hit 609 career home runs and at least 63 in three separate seasons. But he was one of 104 players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003, a test that was supposed to have been done anonymously but was leaked to the media.

Others, such as Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, are not known to have failed a test (Bagwell admitted to taking androstenedione before it was outlawed by the league) but could be victims of suspicion.

"I think there are some cases that will be a little easier to determine than others because we have more proof of steroid use, which would make it easy for me to say that the guy shouldn't enter the Hall of Fame," Hall of Famer Paul Molitor said. "But the ones that are difficult are just more speculative or people who have been charged and exonerated -- although the suspicion remains very large."

When you have a voting body of 600 members, it's no surprise that there is a wide range of views.

"The one thing I won't do is guess which players used PEDs and which players didn't and base a Hall of Fame vote on that conjecture," said Paul Hagen of MLB.com, who is being inducted into the writers' wing of the Hall. "Given that nobody knows with absolute certainty, I believe a voter has only two options. Vote for nobody who played in the so-called Steroid Era. Or vote as we always have for the dominant players of their generation."

Other voters believe they must act on the information they have.

"Just because the commissioner, the owners and, especially, the players union abdicated their responsibility to the game for so long, to me, only increases the obligation for somebody, somewhere to stand up for what's right,'' said Scott Miller of CBSSports.com. "If I can do that even from my small corner of the voting world, then I am grateful to have that chance.''

Mark Faller of the Arizona Republic wrote that he sent a blank ballot, which is a no vote for every candidate. John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer and T.J. Quinn of ESPN.com have indicated in columns that they are abstaining from voting -- meaning their votes are not considered.

Molitor called that approach "a bit of a cop out,'' because it penalizes players such as Morris, whom he believes deserves to get in.

Past offers insight

It will be a surprise if Bonds, Clemens or Sosa is elected in his first year of eligibility.

Mark McGwire, who hit 538 homers -- 70 in 1998 -- has been on the ballot since 2007. He has yet to draw more than 23.7 percent of the vote, with last year's total slipping to 19.8 percent. He admitted in 2010 to using steroids during his career.

Rafael Palmeiro, who smashed 569 home runs in his career, wagged his finger during a Congressional hearing in 2005, firmly denying any use of steroids. But later that year he tested positive for stanozolol and was banned 10 games. He has been on the ballot twice, getting 11.0 and 12.6 percent of the vote.

"I think we have seen a pattern over several years that writers have held back on people who have been connected to it," Molitor said. "I imagine that trend is going to continue."

There is growing speculation that no one will be elected this year. Morris' candidacy appeared to look strong after receiving 66.7 percent of the vote last year, but every voter who sends in a blank ballot or refuses to mail one at all potentially damages Morris' case.

The only certainty is that voters lack a clear consensus of how to treat players from one of baseball's darkest eras.

"Obviously, it is going to be a challenge," said former major leaguer Harold Reynolds, currently an analyst for the MLB Network. "I'm of the belief that you can't throw everyone in the collective pot. We don't know exactly what everyone was doing.

"Derek Jeter. He is going to get lumped into this steroid group. Piazza's name has been thrown in there. I don't really have an answer about how [writers] are going to go about it. It's just a mess."

Editor's note: Star Tribune staff writer La Velle E. Neal III is vice president of the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Buffalo
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
Atlanta
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Golden State 111 FINAL
Orlando 96
Brooklyn 99 FINAL
Philadelphia 91
Portland 105 FINAL
Charlotte 97
Washington 87 FINAL
Cleveland 113
LA Clippers 104 FINAL
Detroit 98
New York 102 FINAL
Dallas 109
Toronto 126 FINAL
Atlanta 115
Milwaukee 103 FINAL
Minnesota 86
Sacramento 89 FINAL
Houston 102
Utah 82 FINAL
Oklahoma City 97
Indiana 100 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Denver 112 FINAL
Phoenix 120
Memphis 99 FINAL
LA Lakers 93
Winnipeg 2 FINAL
Buffalo 1
Washington 2 FINAL(OT)
NY Islanders 3
Philadelphia 2 FINAL
Detroit 5
NY Rangers 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 4
Carolina 0 FINAL
Florida 1
Toronto 3 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Minnesota 0
Chicago 3 FINAL
Colorado 2
Calgary 2 FINAL
San Jose 0
Robert Morris 46 FINAL
Chattanooga 61
Rochester College 35 FINAL
Eastern Mich 68
Marist 68 FINAL
Fresno State 64
Butler 74 FINAL
North Carolina 66
Liberty 50 FINAL
Morgan State 51
Denver 57 FINAL
Belmont 78
American Univ 64 FINAL
Hampton 60
Sacred Heart 72 FINAL
James Madison 79
Northeastern 54 FINAL
Massachusetts 79
Samford 71 FINAL
Kennesaw St 84
ULM 48 FINAL
Coastal Carolina 61
Hawaii 75 FINAL
East Carolina 73
Missouri 74 FINAL
Chaminade 60
UCLA 65 FINAL
Oklahoma 75
North Florida 72 FINAL
Elon 65
Oral Roberts 69 FINAL
Milwaukee 66
Chicago State 61 FINAL
Western Carolina 66
Purdue 87 FINAL
BYU 85
Furman 54 FINAL
Duke 93
San Francisco 72 FINAL
Evansville 79
Wisconsin 72 FINAL
UAB 43
Davidson 95 FINAL
UCF 69
Albany 75 FINAL
Colgate 71
Longwood 66 FINAL
George Washington 91
Delaware State 76 FINAL
Iona 126
Trinity Baptist 57 FINAL
Jacksonville 69
Cleveland State 33 FINAL
Louisville 45
St Johns 70 FINAL
Minnesota 61
PSU-Harrisburg 42 FINAL
Navy 67
Richmond 72 FINAL
NC State 84
Grambling St 54 FINAL
Notre Dame 81
Georgia State 83 FINAL
Oakland 78
Campbell 64 FINAL
Ohio State 91
Goucher 43 FINAL
Towson 97
Bryant 47 FINAL
Vermont 73
Miami-Ohio 63 FINAL
Virginia Tech 78
Mount St Marys 49 FINAL
Wake Forest 83
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Yale 82
UMKC 63 FINAL
Youngstown St 66
Canisius 60 FINAL
Cornell 67
Va Military 72 FINAL
West Virginia 103
Lehigh 86 FINAL
DePaul 74
UC Riverside 62 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 66
Morehead State 77 FINAL
Marshall 68
Miss Valley St 52 FINAL
North Texas 67
UNC-Asheville 75 FINAL
South Carolina 89
Tenn Tech 65 FINAL
SE Louisiana 86
Texas Southern 59 FINAL
SMU 72
Radford 50 FINAL
TCU 74
TX-Pan American 48 FINAL
Utah 85
Wayne St-NE 69 FINAL
South Dakota 86
Kansas State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 70
Northern Ill 49 FINAL
Iowa 70
Fla Gulf Coast 45 FINAL
Green Bay 59
Carroll (MT) 52 FINAL
Montana 75
Florida A&M 33 FINAL
New Mexico St 78
Auburn 71 FINAL
Oregon State 69
Eastern Ky 73 FINAL
Southern Utah 64
Stetson 41 FINAL
Wyoming 65
Northern Ky 60 FINAL
Eastern Wash 81
Utah Valley U 60 FINAL
Idaho State 57
Florida 65 FINAL
Georgetown 66
Northwestern 42 FINAL
Northern Iowa 61
Georgia 76 FINAL
Gonzaga 88
Cal Poly 52 FINAL
California 72
Utah State 70 FINAL
UC Davis 77
Arizona 61 FINAL
San Diego St 59
Alabama State 68 FINAL
North Dakota 75
Portland State 63 FINAL
CS-Northridge 55
Tulsa 58 FINAL
Oklahoma State 73
Pacific 71 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 62
Missouri State 61 FINAL
Colorado State 76
Ohio U 24 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 21
LSU 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(6) TCU 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Colorado
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
USC
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
California
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Florida
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Calgary
Kennesaw St 74 FINAL
Seton Hall 77
Northern Ill 46 FINAL
Eastern Illinois 55
Illinois-Chicago 40 FINAL
Northwestern 61
UT Martin 75 FINAL
Samford 79
Niagara 63 FINAL
Binghamton 52
Radford 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 72
East Tenn St 69 FINAL
Indiana 97
North Dakota 72 FINAL
Nebraska Omaha 52
Marshall 49 FINAL
Cornell 58
Oral Roberts 43 FINAL
Ark-Little Rock 54
LSU 0 Postponed
Texas-El Paso 0
Boise State 59 FINAL
Yale 53
Evansville 39 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 83
(4) Tennessee 63 FINAL
Chattanooga 67
Delaware State 64 FINAL
Mount St Marys 73
Bradley 74 FINAL
Columbia 81
Providence 56 FINAL
Dayton 72
Presbyterian 43 FINAL
Xavier 45
Albany 64 FINAL
Canisius 59
VA Commonwealth 48 FINAL
William & Mary 56
Alabama A&M 44 FINAL
Alabama 75
Colgate 35 FINAL
(22) Georgia 66
Memphis 75 FINAL
Southern Ill 82
Oakland 64 FINAL
(16) Michigan State 79
Utah Valley U 49 FINAL
UC Davis 59
Butler 62 FINAL
BYU 81
TX-Pan American 45 FINAL
(6) Texas 72
McNeese State 27 FINAL
(7) Texas A&M 93
Milwaukee 80 FINAL
Marquette 85
Northern Ariz 62 FINAL
TX-Arlington 80
Jackson State 70 FINAL
Chicago State 60
Indiana State 74 FINAL
South Alabama 53
Kansas State 0 Postponed
Santa Clara 0
Long Beach St 69 FINAL
Alaska-Anchorage 60
Iona 49 FINAL
Kansas 90
Fresno Pacific 60 FINAL
CS-Bakersfield 82
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close