The steroid era for baseball just won’t go away, and it’s not going to for some time to come.
Manny Ramirez retired because he faced a second suspension for performance-enhancing drug use.
Barry Bonds was convicted on one count of obstructing justice relating to his use, known or unknown, of steroids. Those stories have placed the whole issue on the front of the sports pages again.
Meanwhile, Alex Rodriguez is off to a great start with the Yankees and folks have forgotten he admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs while playing for Texas.
Rodriguez made the good PR move of admitting use and saying, “I’m sorry.” He still used, tainting his numbers at least for those years.
Rodriguez will be the lightning rod for this whole steroid era five years after he retires and is eligible for the Hall of Fame.
Right now, he is quietly sliding by any coverage of his use, as though it never happened.
He will continue to post Hall of Fame numbers and may even become the all-time leader in home runs.
Then all of baseball will have to deal with the issue anew as to whether he or anyone who used performance-enhancing drugs should be voted into the Hall. The voting is done by the baseball writers as originally designated by the Hall.
The writers are no happier about having to face these issues than MLB. As one voter told me this week, “Who are we to make the decision? We are the ones asked by the Hall of Fame to do it, so that is what we have to do.”
Major League Baseball should not be let off the hook here. While players who have admitted to use have been suspended, that price for stars like Rodriguez is minimal.
Should all those who admitted or are determined to have used such drugs be eligible for the Hall at all? Should they — like Pete Rose, who faced the issue of gambling on the game — be banned from baseball, thus becoming ineligible for consideration for the Hall?
Should the numbers posted by users be in the books at all, and if so, should there be the mighty asterisk attached to indicate the numbers are tainted at best.
No one should have to worry about what the numbers for these stars would have been but for drug use. If they used, they created the question and should have to live with the consequences.
It’s called responsibility.
Because of the damage all users have done to the integrity of the game, their numbers should be asterisked, recorded in a separate category and not considered for MLB record purposes.
They should be declared ineligible for consideration for the Hall either by MLB through a special suspension from the game once retired as players or by the Hall of Fame itself in a redefining of the requirements for consideration.
Are there some users already in the Hall? Probably. Are there users playing not yet named as such? Absolutely.
Neither fact negates the requirement of doing the right thing to protect those who played the game by the rules and whose numbers are not drug-enhanced.
The discussion of such matters has just begun.