Much has been made over the past few days about the Hall of Fame. Before I go any further, I should probably voice my own opinion on the subject.
1. For me, the Hall of Fame is a museum, not a shrine. It's a place where fathers bring sons to explore the magic of baseball together. A place where generations meld together.
2. Like any museum, it should be about history. History is good and bad. Both are intertwined. Some of the best good this game has seen (Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier) has been forged by bad (decades of segregation and the negro leagues). Steroids and the PED era are part of the game, part of its history, and should be addressed accordingly.
3. That said, I don't believe players who have been proven guilty (Rafael Palmeiro) or admitted to taking them (Bonds) should be inducted into the hall UNTIL Baseball and the hall of Fame come out with a policy, and choose to acknowledge it at the Hall of Fame.
4. However, as rampant as the use was during that era, to find people guilty by association (Bagwell, Piazza, etc...) is wrong. It happened, but you'll never know who did it.
4. But Barry Bonds deserves to eventually be in the Hall of Fame.
I believe that in my gut.
So did Jon Heyman as recently as April 2011. How much so? This is a direct quote from the article. (Thanks to 88Lindros and Justin F for bringing this to the forefront.)
The standards are high in a court of law, as they should be. For the Hall, it's a judgment call. Scoundrels and cheats are already in. So are foul-tempered jerks. Bonds may be all three. He is also one of the three greatest players I ever saw in his prime, along with Alex Rodriguez and Rickey Henderson. A baseball Hall of Fame would be empty without Bonds.
While I do believe Bonds took steroids (whether it was knowingly or not doesn't much matter to me, though if I had to guess, I think he knows everything that goes in his body), I don't believe all steroid users should be excluded from the Hall of Fame. I'm not here to sit in moral judgment of another human being.
If someone wants to say the Hall of Fame wouldn't be the same without Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, I understand that, too
That someone was YOU Jon! How bout that?
When I questioned him on this here's how he replied:
@joecatz i mentioned in recent column i had been leaning other way (tho i didnt remember column from 2 yrs ago) @joecatz there have been lots of thoughts advanced for 2 years. eventually, i felt i needed to be fair to players who played it straight
Look, I give him some props. he voted for Fred McGriff, who is about as clean as anyone, and deserves, IMO to be in the hall. But even Fred is suspect here.
From 1988 to 1994 Fred McGriff had a .288/.390/.545 line and averaged 35 HRs and 95 RBI per season.
Entering his age 31 season in 1995, and for the next four years, McGriff's power numbers declined every year. He averaged 24 home runs, the same 94 RBI, but saw his line shrink to .284/.363/.464, a drop of almost 100 SLG points.
From 1999 to 2002 (coincidentally the year the drug policy was put into effect) his age 34-37 seasons, McGriff averaged 30HRs, 104 RBI and saw his slash line improve to .291/.379/.512.
In 2003 he put up a 750 OPS. he slugged 306 in 2004 and was out of the game.
I questioned him on this as well. His response?
@JonHeymanCBS How do you determine who "played it straight? McGriff clean as hell, HUGE power surge at 35 from 99-2002, in TB w/Canseco..
Ny the way, as I mentioned in my tweet, 1999 was the year Jose Canseco played with McGriff on the Rays. Anyone who played with Jose was around steroids. right? It's six degrees of Jose Canseco.
So a shit ton of circumstantial evidence that can go either way, no different for McGriff (who I believe was clean) than anyone else. I'm sure I could make the same case somehow for anyone else who played in the era, on anyone's ballot at any time. Throw me a name in the comments and I'll find a connection. Guaranteed.
The point here is not to point fingers at Fred McGriff, or even Jon Heyman. The point is no one has a crystal ball. No one knows anything other than any player who played in that era is suspect or clean.
And guys like John Heyman, who looked the other way for years (and kudos to him for admitting it).
Yes, agree, the writers (myself included) did poor job of covering roids in the '90s. Not proud of that.
Are the last people who should be throwing stones. and man, no one should be so damn congratulatory for looking a blind eye.
Proud? yeah. You should all be real proud of yourselves.