Big names headline Hall of Fame ballot

  • David Whitlock

The 2013 Hall of Fame ballot is going to be released Wednesday and is sure to stir the pot of discussion of how performance enhancing drugs (PED) figure into electability.

The eye of the hurricane is of course, first time candidate Barry Bonds, who was convicted of felony obstruction of justice associated with the BALCO investigation.  He of the most prestigious record in Major League Baseball for single season (73) and career home runs (762).  There’s no question he was a Hall of Famer by talent only, but his PED use taints the legacy.  While MLB hasn’t moved to erase his records, there’s no question that most fans do not consider him the HR king by clean standards.

Also on the ballot will be Slammin’ Sammy Sosa, forever linked with Mark McGwire and the “magical” 1998 season in which they both obliterated a 37 year old record for home runs in a single season (later smashed by the aforementioned Bonds who by most counts was clean and grew frustrated that those guys were known users and thriving.  And by “magical”, it was apparent the magic came in the form of PEDs in one form or another. Sosa seemed to be clean, but was reported to test positive in 2003 under the program designed to see how bad it was before suspensions began.

Never away from controversy is Roger Clemens, another central figure in the so called “steroid era”.  After all, it’s natural to maintain your physical ability well into your 40’s and, oh by the way, break down physically down the stretch every time (despite not starting to pitch until June in some cases).  He’s avoided any conviction so far, but by eyewitness accounts by even those close to him, he juiced.

If previous candidates with similar history are any indication, these three guys got no chance.  Mark McGwire (admitted steroid/HGH user) has not topped 24 percent of the ballot (less than 1/3 needed).  Rafael Palmeiro, a member of the exclusive 500 HR/ 3000 hit club (along with Mays, Murray, and Aaron) has only hit about half that at 12.6%.

The BBWAA has been given little direction in how to handle the vote with regard to the steroid era (in other words, MLB and the Hall are punting) and it’s apparent enough of them have no interest in electing those under suspicion.  With the 75% requirement, it takes an overwhelming majority to make it happen, and these guys got too many naysayers.

It’s interesting how this bodes for players like Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez who have been suspended but have gaudy numbers by any measuring stick.

In the “clean” category, those expected to get serious attention toward election include returning top 3 vote getters from 2012:  Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell, and Lee Smith, as well as trending positive Tim Raines, and newcomers Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio.

As a Houston Astros fan, a Biggio/Bagwell double election intrigues me. I worry that both have small market bias and because Bagwell knew Ken Caminiti and was strong, he’s perceived as guilty by association.

– Dave (@lhd_on_sports)

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About The Author

David Whitlock

David Whitlock - manager

David (a.k.a. Longhorndave or lhd_on_sports) joined the staff late in the 2012 season and moved to Site Manager in early 2013. A lifelong Houston Astros fan (and mini-season ticket holder for 9 years) he attends 20+ games per year. A statistics freak, David still keeps score the "old fashioned way" on occasion (and has kept manual score of World Series games since 1986 and retains the sheets). He was a featured guest weekly on the Phil Naessens Show. He is also a Texas Longhorns alumnus and huge football and baseball fan of his alma mater. When he isn't watching or writing about baseball, he works as a contractor at NASA Johnson Space Center. He lives by the mantra "a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day anywhere else."

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