Hall of Fame Class of 2018 likely to be controversial

On January 24th, Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the 2018 inductees. There is much debate which players should be elected. In the 1990s illegal performance-enhancing drug use was rampant in baseball before the sport tested, and now the baseball writers don’t know whether they should reward these players with immortality in the Hall of Fame.

Although no one should be celebrated for drug use or any other form of cheating, it happens in every sport no matter how carefully it is governed. Baseball’s popularity rose during the 1990s despite having a messy labor dispute canceling the 1994 World Series. The game was dominated by great power hitters, such as Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire, and great pitchers, Hall of Famers Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, and Randy Johnson. Watching baseball during the 90s was exciting, and no one cared how these players accomplished these amazing feats. Of course, there were rumors, but there always are rumors. Is the baseball juiced? Is somebody using PEDs? Both the Commissioner’s office and the journalists who covered the sport from the first day of spring training until the World Series ends ignored the possible problem until the Congress threatened to take care of the problem if baseball didn’t.

Does time really heal all wounds? I guess we’ll find out on January 24 when the Hall of Fame Class of 2018 is announced. (Photo credit – Getty Images)

The PED era is a supreme embarrassment. Players of yesteryear inducted into the Hall of Fame don’t want the cheaters to be allowed in. After all, they didn’t cheat. They obtained the honor through hard work. Most baseball players look for a competitive edge any way they can. Having an incredible competitive edge is celebrated in every sport. Though using PEDs was illegal in the United States, baseball didn’t test for them until 2003.

The 2017 season saw more home runs than ever before. No one is questioning if players are using PEDS. After all, baseball is testing for illegal PEDS, but these tests can be circumvented. Baseball contributes the increased power numbers to the new focus on launch angle and exit velocity. During the epic World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, the power numbers were ridiculous even though they led to a thrilling World Series. Many people questioned if baseball was using a different ball for the World Series from the regular season.

Anyway, there can be several contributing factors for increased power numbers than using PEDs. PEDs don’t always lead to increased home runs. Dee Gordon while with the Miami Marlins won a batting championship in 2015, but in 2016 he received an 80-day suspension for PED abuse. No one ever questioned if the late Tony Gwynn used PEDs to achieve his hitting prowess. I am not wondering, but Gwynn was known as the hardest worker in baseball during his era. Gordon always has been known as a hard worker since he debuted with the Dodgers in 2011. All players who used PEDs aren’t worthy of the Hall of Fame selection. Even with PEDs, players must work hard and have supreme dedication to their sport from an early age to achieve greatness to go to the Hall of Fame.

Although I don’t vote for the Hall of Fame, I have opinions who belongs there. I wish the Hall of Fame would put an asterisk behind the players who were known as PEDs users.

Trevor Hoffman: An incredible closer for the San Diego Padres and the Milwaukee Brewers. His 601 saves were the all-time record until Mariano Rivera broke it in 2011. Over his 18 seasons, he dominated the opponent with a devastating changeup while playing with one kidney. During his career he converted 88.8 percent of his save opportunities into saves, the third highest. As his career progressed and his velocity decreased, Hoffman thought how to retire a batter instead of relying on his physical skills.

Jeff Kent: All-time home run leader for second baseman. From 1997, his first year with the San Francisco Giants, to 2005, Kent drove in 90 or more runs a year which is unheard of for a second baseman. Second base is primarily known as a defensive position. While with the Giants (1997-2002), he expertly protected Barry Bonds. Even after he left the Giants for the Astros where he displaced Hall of Famer Craig Biggio, he continued dominating the NL pitchers. He has the 21st-most doubles in MLB history. He hit for the cycle in 1999 and won the NL MVP in 2000. He never took a PED and has been an advocate for blood testing for HGH in MLB.

Although not the most popular guy in the Dodgers clubhouse, it’s impossible to argue that Jeff Kent didn’t play the game the right way. (Getty Images)

Edgar Martinez: The ultimate DH. Although the Hall of Fame doesn’t have a player who was primarily a DH, it’s time to allow this position in. The DH position was created in 1973 to increase the popularity of the American League. Martinez though a third baseman by trade spent his 18-year career with the Seattle Mariners primarily as a DH. His lifetime batting average is .312 with 309 home runs. He went to seven All-Star games and won five Silver Sluggers. He led the American League in RBI in 2000. A torn hamstring early in his career that never fully healed prevented him from playing in the field. He earned the Roberto Clemente Award in 2004. Although he was a DH, he was a team leader and a well-respected member of MLB.

Barry Bonds*: Even if people forget the Giants’ years where he hit all the home runs, he was an extraordinary player with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He won eight Gold Gloves and seven NL MVP awards. He stole 514 bases during his career. He was a two-time batting champion. He had 40-40 (40 home runs and 40 or more stolen bases in a season). He leads MLB in walks drawn.

Although baseball writers can choose ten players on the Hall of Fame ballot, I don’t have any other player who I think is worthier of induction.

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12 Responses to “Hall of Fame Class of 2018 likely to be controversial”

  1. Ron Cervenka says:

    Great article Sarah. The 90’s were among the most exciting years in the history of the game. I remember being both devastated and angry when it was discovered that most of it was a sham.

    I’m old school and hate the thought of cheaters being enshrined in the sacred Halls of Cooperstown, but like you, I believe that it’s only a matter of time … and I fear that time is upon us.

  2. SoCalBum says:

    I am so tired of hearing and reading about Edgar Martinez deserving of HOF recognition! Martinez was a fine player, but Gil Hodges was better offensively while losing two seasons to military service AND playing every day as a gold glove first baseman. Martinez should not enter the HOF before Hodges!!! PED’s? Add a new section to the HOF, “CHEATERS GALLERY” that also includes members of the Chicago Black Sox and Pete Rose; cast the bronze bust statues with heads lowered in shame that sit behind iron bars as if in prison.

    • Sarah Morris says:

      I can’t say whether Gill Hodges should be in the Hall of Fame because I never saw him play or manage. By the statistics, I think he should be there, but having many of the Boys of Summer in the Hall of Fame is Hodges. It is the Veteran’s Committee decision. The problem is there aren’t many veterans who were Hodges’ peers anymore.

      Barry Bonds never failed a drug test. I know everyone thinks he used PEDs. Unlike other PED users, Bonds was never constantly on the DL. I think Pete Rose, who broke a clear-stated rule in baseball will be inducted after his death. Rose has never expressed any remorse about gambling on baseball. Shoeless Joe Jackson also did break a clear-stated baseball rule was banned from baseball. Bonds has never been banned from baseball. In my mind, it’s different. I know I have a different outlook on things from many people.

      • Evan Bladh says:

        Sarah, yes it is true that Bonds didn’t fail a drug test. To my knowledge he was never administered one either.

        The evidence is so overwhelming that Bonds used PEDS that it is scarcely debated. Lance Williams and Mark Fainauru-Wada’s book – Game of Shadows – provided witnesses that reported that Barry Bonds juiced. This included his mistress, and teammates. Stan Conte, the Giants trainer at the time, was very much against Bonds’ entourage in the Gnat clubhouse. They were nefarious characters of suspicious backgrounds. One of those, Greg Anderson, his supposed supplier, went to jail in loyalty to the code that he wouldn’t snitch on his friend, but we all know that the testimony would have been unfavorable to Bonds had it ever occurred. Then there was the BALCO trial and testimony against Bonds. There is no point of discussing it. Bonds cheated. Even Giants management, when forced to address it will admit that he used PEDS.

        Bonds ego couldn’t stomach both McGwire and Sosa getting all the publicity in 1998. So he started juicing. he put up amazing numbers after age 35, when players deteriorate. Those numbers were inflated by PEDS, and they continued to be so until Bonds was forced out of the game.

      • Respect the Rivalry says:

        “I think Pete Rose, who broke a clear-stated rule in baseball will be inducted after his death.”
        Only if the HOF changes it’s rules. They interpret a lifetime ban as a forever ban. Nobody under a lifetime ban is eligible for the HOF.
        That’s why Joe Jackson isn’t in.
        See my comment below.

      • SoCalBum says:

        You may want to research the case of Shoeless Joe Jackson, it would make a terrific article “Making the HOF case for Shoeless Joe.” IMO, Bonds clearly cheated with PED’s, the only question in my mind is when he started cheating. There is nothing in HOF voting rules that prevents either Rose or Shoeless Joe from being inducted now. If death puts Rose in the HOF then Shoeless Joe should already be inducted. No intention to offend, I have listened to baseball talk shows over the last couple of weeks that are making the case for Edgar Martinez which reminds me of Hodges being snubbed by writers and later the veterans committee.

    • Respect the Rivalry says:

      While I agree totally with you regarding Gil Hodges (and I would include Maury Wills too) I really don’t think it should have any bearing on the candidacy of Edgar Martinez or any other player.
      I do have a long held opinion regarding players under a lifetime ban. Once a player dies his lifetime is over, therefore his ban is over. Then he can be considered.
      Think how it would feel to Pete Rose to know that he’ll likely be in the HOF, but won’t live to see it.

      • SoCalBum says:

        Regarding lifetime bans and HOF. First, it is my understanding that a lifetime ban does not prevent entry into the HOF; looking at the requirements there is nothing that prevents baseball writers from voting for Rose, or Shoeless Joe Jackson. A couple of years ago when Rose applied for reinstatement I believe the Baseball Commissioner said publicly that his ban was not preventing entry into the HOF. Further, if death removed the lifetime ban then why not Shoeless Joe Jackson in the HOF?

        • Respect the Rivalry says:

          “I believe the Baseball Commissioner said publicly that his ban was not preventing entry into the HOF.”
          As far as MLB is concerned that is true, and always has been. HOF is a seperate entity and does restrict players on lifetime bans from ever being on the HOF ballot.
          “Further, if death removed the lifetime ban then why not Shoeless Joe Jackson in the HOF?”
          “I do have a long held opinion regarding players under a lifetime ban. Once a player dies his lifetime *should be* over, therefore his ban *should be* over. Then he *should be* considered.”
          Edited for clarity.

  3. oldbrooklynfan says:

    Some of our greatest players are said to have taken PEDs, but it doesn’t seem like too many writers are having a tough time filling out their list. Well we’ll just have to watch what the results will be.

  4. baseball1439 says:

    Bonds cheated because he couldn’t stand to see other players ( cheaters ) getting more publicity than he was, and you want to reward this total act of me first and total lack of respect for his fellow players, or the great players and there records he was breaking by cheating.Rewarding these players with immortality in the Hall of Fame is wrong, it makes them the winners, they should be ashamed of their actions but you want to reward them.

  5. Ron Cervenka says:

    Having grown up during an era in which smoking marijuana went from being a felony to now being 100 percent perfectly legal (at least in screwed up California), there is no way – none whatsoever – that the younger generation of today’s Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), who STILL can’t get their own acronym right, will NOT lift the ban on known PED users from induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame.

    …and it will happen THIS year.

    As a former co-worker of mine used to say: “Time wounds all heals.”

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