Will the HOF voters stand firm against the cheaters?

Posted by Scott Wuerz on November 30, 2012 

It's going to be interesting to see how what promises to be the most controversial ballot in the history of the Baseball Hall of Fame plays itself out.

Voters have made a huge point over the past few years of holding out anyone even suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. But the PED all-stars are on the ballot this time around and the names on the list hold some of the highest spots in the record books.

So is it the principle of keeping out the cheaters? Or is this about making examples of a few sacrificial lambs and then putting in the guys are seemingly too big to fail? Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro broke the 500 homer plateau, once a guaranteed ticket to the Hall of Fame. But they have been shut down cold. Does Barry Bonds get a free pass because he's the all-time home run leader -- when we know most of those homers came under unseemly circumstances?

For his part, Bonds isn't even the least bit contrite. He was quoted in a Yahoo Sports story as saying that he expects to get in to the point that he would be "very sad" if he didn't. And Bonds told mlb.com that he blames the fans and baseball writers for causing people to dare to even question whether he deserves to get in.

"I don't even know how to explain it. The world has become so negative," Bonds said. "One day, I'll be able to say things the right way. But it's tough when you have so many people out there who don't want to turn the page and want to be angry at you forever. I don't understand why it continues on. What am I doing wrong?

"I can sit here and say, 'You know what? Baseball is great. I love it.' I can sit here and say in a very kind way that I'm sorry about the way things ended. I can sit here and say that I respect the Hall of Fame, which I do. But I don't understand all the controversy we're having about it. For what reason? What's there to be gained by all of this? What's the point?"

Judging from those remarks, Bonds has absolutely no sense that he should be held accountable for his actions. Not only that, but what he did was just a minor footnote to his career.

Some balloters have expressed a feeling that Bonds would have been a Hall of Famer if he never dabbled in steroids, so he deserves to get in even after he cheated. I don't get that at all. If a college student cheats is caught cheating on one question on a test but he gets enough of the others correct to pass, does he get credit for the work he did? No. He gets a zero -- and he's probably going to be expelled.

Who knows if Bonds was a Hall of Famer based on his pre-steroid career. How do we really know when he started cheating? We know Mark McGwre probably wasn't on steroids when he hit 49 homers in his rookie season as a flagpole thin kid. So wasn't he good enough to be in the hall without PEDs? The answer is you can't go looking for a shade of gray in matters of principle. Either you cheated and or you didn't. And either you care about cheating as a factor in casting your ballot or you don't. It's black and white.

So, with Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens -- all linked to cheating -- on the ballot and Mike Piazza, a suspected but never proven PED user, all on the ballot, we're going to see if the voters are really principled protectors of the sanctity of the Hall of Fame. Of if they're a bunch of blowhards who think everyone but the guy they like should have to play by the rules.

I sure hope, if anyone gets in this ballot -- that it's Craig Biggio. He's a guy never linked to steroids who was an excellent all around player at three positions, no less. But if any of those cheaters get in, the Hall of Fame it's going to lose a ton of credibilty. 

But, as far as Barry is concerned, it's all about him.

"I do really care," Bonds told mlb.com. "I may say I don't, but I do really care. I've been through a lot in my life so not too many things bother me. Making the Hall of Fame, would it be something that's gratifying because of what I've sacrificed? Sure. Baseball has been a big part of our lives. We've sacrificed our bodies. It's the way we made our living."

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