Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Here's a thought...

I was reading this morning that Ryne Sandberg, one of my baseball heroes growing up, has suggested that Sammy Sosa does not belong in the Hall of Fame. Not that there's anything particularly newsworthy about that statement in and of itself (Sandberg points out that the word "integrity" is right on the Hall of Fame's logo and seal, and that's about the only thing that stood out about his comments). But I read the story, and I thought, of course Sosa doesn't belong in the Hall. Of course McGwire and Bonds and Palmeiro and Clemens and Rodriguez and Ramirez and every other superstar in baseball over the past ten years do not belong in the Hall of Fame.

But then again, it's going to become a big issue, and soon. With McGwire up for election, and the others to soon follow, there will be a massive number of tainted superstars vying for a spot in Cooperstown. However, I'm not even thinking about the superstars now. I don't think any of them will get in, and so it should be. But now I'm thinking about those who ought to be in there, but won't be. Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson and Tom Glavine are shoo-ins, and I don't think there's anyone suggesting they used steroids. But what about the guys who were just pretty good during the steroid era? Pitchers who were just good pitchers? Hitters who were pretty good hitters? They had to play against steroid-fueled monsters - if you had to bat against Clemens in the last few years of his career, you were playing against steroids. If you were pitching to Barry Bonds, you were pitching to steroids. That's going to affect your numbers, in a big way.

So there's no way to know who the true greats were in the era. What if Mike Mussina or David Cone were the very best pitchers not on steroids? What if Larry Walker and Nomar Garciaparra were the two best pure hitters who did not take the juice? The chances of those guys making the Hall of Fame is slim, because they played in an era where there numbers didn't stand out against the eye-popping figures put up by Clemens, Bonds, McGwire, A-Rod, and the rest. Not that I'm saying those guys are clean. Because who knows, really? But what's going to happen here is that not only are the biggest names in the game not going to make it to Cooperstown, the guys who should have been the biggest names in the game, who would have made the Hall of Fame in another era, will be forgotten. Maybe that's the saddest legacy of all in the steroid era.

No comments:

Post a Comment