It is shooting extremely comatose fish in a barrel to trash the Baseball Writers Association of America after this week’s Hall of Fame votes were tallied. The BBWAA once again, because of the cloud of performance-enhancing drugs, kept out baseball’s all-time home run leader Barry Bonds and the greatest right-handed pitcher since integration, Roger Clemens. Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza were also all Hall of Fame–caliber players of their generation shut out because of admitted, openly suspected or quietly rumored steroid use.
Meanwhile Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine are in, because the voters, who one can only assume have the all-seeing powers of the blinded Cordelia on American Horror Story: Coven, were able to divine that these three were in fact “clean.” The BBWAA, relying on the “integrity” clause in the voting process have decided that “integrity” means not using PEDs during a time when Major League Baseball had no drug-testing policy and many of these same writers spent the 1990s praising people like McGwire for their “Bunyanesque” physiques.
The top baseball writers, the owners, the sports networks and the managers all were enriched by the go-go steroid ’90s and now the weight of the entire post-party hangover has fallen on the shoulders of the players. The greatest farce of all will be seeing manager Tony LaRussa become a Hall of Famer after spending a career shielding his PED-popping players and slandering the few writers, like Howard Bryant, trying to get to the bottom of the story. (The BBWAA does not vote for managers).
This has driven some of these voters to extreme acts, such as ESPN’s Dan LeBatard, who we now know is the secret sportswriter that gave his vote to the rebel sports website Deadspin. As Dan wrote and people should read his entire justification, “I feel like my vote has gotten pretty worthless in the avalanche of sanctimony that has swallowed it. I have no earthly idea if Jeff Bagwell or Frank Thomas did or didn’t use steroids. I think I understand why the steroid guys were the steroid guys in this competition-aholic culture. I hate all the moralizing we do in sports in general, but I especially hate the hypocrisy in this: many of the gatekeeper voters denying Barry Bonds Hall Of Fame entry would have they themselves taken a magical, healing, not-tested-for-in-their-workplace elixir if it made them better at their jobs, especially if lesser talents were getting the glory and money. Lord knows I’d take the elixir for our ESPN2 TV show if I could.”