What this standard is, exactly, nobody seems to know. Some writers believe that no steroid user should get in. Some believe all should get in. Others believe they can pick and choose who they believe and who they don’t.
A few think that they should just hold off a decision, as if their responsibility as a Hall of Fame voter means they don’t have to use it to its fullest extent. Another believes it is his right to include no one in the Hall of Fame, like their vote is the only one without definitive answers to hash it with.
Baseball, more than any other sport relies on history as a major attraction. Their records, their stadiums, the former stars of generations ago, all make up the foundation of why baseball is considered “America’s Pastime”.
The Hall of Fame in Cooperstown has long been considered the ground zero of this history. For many years, only a few were excluded from this place, and thus, created a hole in the history of the game at the place where the past is totally embraced.
Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are the outliers – players who did something spectacularly offense that got them banned.
The problem with banning “steroid users” from the Hall of Fame is, this was not some one-off offense, it was a widespread form of cheating over decades and we don’t even know how many were involved.
If the Hall of Fame exists to educate and be a place that holds the history of the game, then it needs to do that. Recognize the era in which the new Hall of Famers will enter from, and expose the types of problem Major League Baseball had. Let the fans of the future be able to learn and be able to make their own decisions on the players that got in and did not and whether they believe they are deserving.
A game that all fans have shaped should not have its history definitely written by a small group of people who have not even made definitive decisions themselves.
Like any other year, you need to compare and contrast the players going in to their contemporaries. If I were to exclude the thought-to-be steroid users, I would have to start including fringe players, like Fred McGriff, because their numbers would start to look better.
At this point, though, everyone would be eligible on my ballot. I believe that this is not the year to put in anyone who has voluntarily announced they have done steroids, so Mark McGwire will sit out. I also believe Sammy Sosa had a ton of Hall of Fame years that will eventually make him a Hall of Famer, but on my scale, his career was too lopsided with too many below average years, to get in.
My other belief is that if you think someone is a Hall of Famer, regardless of if you think they are first ballot or not, you always vote them in and let the populace weed out those that do not belong in the total ballot. I might have reasons why I do not want to put someone in at this moment, but one of them should never be “I don’t think they should go in their first year.” Ideas and thoughts, especially in the statistical age, may change over time, but that should be the only reason someone goes on and off of an individual’s ballot each year. Edgar Martinez and Larry Walker make my ballot based on this, but both like the next guy I will talk about, will always be discussed year-to-year because of other DHs and those that play in Colorado today.
Kenny Lofton is my closest miss as of this year. His numbers are close enough and his defense probably pushes him in, but some current players may blow his numbers out of the water by the ends of their careers, so for now, I would hold off on him.