The 2013 MLB Hall of Fame class will be revealed today at 2 p.m. ET on the MLB Network. The big buzz is that the voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) have sent in their ballots, they are sending a message about how they feel about PED usage, and no one will get in. If that happens, this means that not only are those who we know took PED’s not getting votes, but neither are those lumped into the category of “it’s possible that they may have because guys were doing that stuff then.”
The majority of attention with regard to the topic of the HOF and steroid usage has gone to three first-time candidates closely associated with PED use, Roger Clemens, Barry Bond and Sammy Sosa. While all three have clearly put up HOF numbers, the fact that they unquestionably took PED’s cast a Munsters-like cloud over their candidacy.
There are 37 candidates on the ballot this year with 24 newcomers joining 13 holdovers seeking to get the 75% of the vote necessary for induction. That group is led by Jack Morris (66.7 percent last year), Jeff Bagwell (56%), Tim Raines (48.7%), Allen Trammell (36.8%) and Edgar Martinez (36.5%).
If the rumors are true and no one gets in, that means Mike Piazza, arguably the best hitting catcher to ever play the game, will not get in on his first attempt. The interesting thing about Piazza and lumping him into the category of those accused of taking PED’s is that his performance did not get better with age. One look at his statistics and you can clearly see a progression of performance into his prime and then a tailing off. Piazza’s last “standout year” was when he was 33-years old and it was all down hill from there. If he was taking steroids, they didn’t work!
Other than someone whispering that Piazza may have had a blemish on his back when seen in the locker room on a particular day when he played (suggesting bacne), there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that Piazza took PED’s. If there had been some type of formal inquest into the matter with regard to Piazza and PED’s by some agency or legal entity at some point that was generated from evidence, even if the allegations could not be proven, I could understand grouping him into the same category as those who have been most closely associated with the steroid era. But if we are just going to say, “Well, he played in the same time-frame as those guys so he must have taken them too,” we are going down a very dangerous path.
Many feel that Jeff Bagwell fell into this category last season. If Mike Piazza, arguably he best hitting catcher of all time, can’t get in on his first ballot, he would become the new poster child for keeping those out of the HOF because of the possibility they may have taken PED’s, simply because of the era they played in.
Are we going to do the same thing to Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas when it’s their turn? They played smack in the middle of the time period in question. The BBWAA has failed to elect anyone to the Hall a total of 15 times since 1940. If Jack Morris doesn’t sneak in, this may be the 16th time, and it may be for the wrong reasons.