A dissenting view on Bonds, Palmeiro and the Hall

A dissenting view on Bonds, Palmeiro and the Hall
December 25, 2012, 12:30 am

Not to be argumentative in this season of good cheer, but let me be argumentative. However, I do it in a spirit of good cheer.

I disagree with our Orioles maven, Rich Dubroff, in which he states steroid-tainted ballplayers such as Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Rafael Palmeiro don’t belong in the Hall of Fame.

With some players from the steroid era, we have a pretty good idea of when they started using. With others, we think we have a pretty good idea. And with still others, we can’t really be sure.

Take Palmeiro, for instance. Unlike Bonds, Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa, his physique never really changed. So do we know when he began to cheat with performance-enhancing drugs? Was it before the point that he had compiled Hall of Fame-worthy statistics? We would just be guessing.

You can take the hard line and say anyone who used was cheating and thus unworthy of entry to the Hall, even if — like Bonds — he had already built a career that made him a Hall of Famer. I’m not sure that’s defensible, because where is the line drawn? The ones who tested positive? Plus the ones on whom we have evidence, such as in the Mitchell Report, that they used? Plus the ones, like Mike Piazza, who fail some kind of eyeball test?

We can’t really be sure about anyone who played in the steroid era. So do we keep everyone who played in those years out of the Hall of Fame? No. Let’s judge them all the way players supposedly have been judged all along — in the context of their times. So that may mean discounting larger home run totals because so many hitters — yes, some of them chemically enhanced — were socking balls out of the park so often.

If you want to keep Palmeiro out of the Hall of Fame, make the case based on how his performance on the field stacks up, not because you believe — without being able to truly know — he was juicing for a big chunk of his career.

Consistency is one of the things that gets a player into the Hall. It should also be a quality present in the voting.