This year is always a special time of year. It’s our annual reminder that the gatekeepers for Baseball’s hallowed Hall are, for the most part, old traditionalists who refuse to adapt.
Although we’re not supposed to mention his name, it took Jonah Keri years to convince his colleagues to give Tim Raines, a seemingly unworthy candidate, the nod. Past that the players who wind up in the Hall of Fame are pretty much hitting the same benchmarks as everyone else with very little wiggle room.
Except, of course, for the CHEATERS! Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Big Mac, the list goes on and on. They used the cream and the clear and they don’t deserve to be remembered since their on the field numbers weren’t “real”.
But, the hard truth is they were “real”. REAL.
Other than players like Mark McGwire and Jose Conseco, who most conclude were always taking steroids, there will always be an argument for pre-juice Clemens and Bonds. I’m not here to argue that. Because to most people the latter wiped out the former.
I’m here to tell you the latter is just as legitimate and the Baseball gatekeepers need to get over it.
Yes, in the heat of the moment I also hated Barry Bonds. I was mad that he was breaking records “illegitimately”. It was fairly obvious to everyone that he was taking something. You don’t just grow muscle and crown size with age, because medically speaking your body should be doing the opposite.
He took the juice. So did Sosa and Pudge and Jason Giambi, and the rest of them. But, that’s what their era dictated.
And, it was that – an era. There was an entire span of twenty plus years where roids were quite literally the norm. They were just as much a part of the game as hot dogs. The fact that we ignored it because we like seeing the big buff men hit the ball far isn’t their fault – it’s ours. We liked what was happening because we got to cheer, and drink beer, and hi-five when another monster of science crushed a ball into orbit.
We didn’t just like it, we loved it. So much so we filled stadiums, which in turn grew profits, which in turn inflated contracts, which ultimately gave these roid ragers positive reinforcement that things weren’t changing any time soon, if ever.
We can pass the blame on to the player all we want, but it was us. We created the monster by supporting what the monster did year after year after year. And, sure, maybe we didn’t know what was actually happening. I’m willing to concede that we really had no idea, but it would be naive and even stupid to assume Baseball was in the dark.
There’s only so many razor sharp jawlines that come out of nowhere, or first baseman built like cartoon characters before someone notices something.
And, sure, Baseball more than likely covered it all up or just turned the other cheek because guess what? IT WAS TOTALLY FINE TO TAKE STEROIDS IN BASEBALL FOR A VERY LONG TIME AND ESPECIALLY DURING THE ROID RAGING 90s AND 2000s!
Sorry. Lost my temper real quick. I’m gonna go lift.
Baseball was fine with it, until they weren’t, it was legal, until it wasn’t, and fans celebrated the outcome until it made us feel uncomfortable. Well, loopty loo. Time to get over it.
All the juiced up superbots deserve to be in the Hall. They do. Again, I booed Bonds with a passion. I probably yelled some really shitty things at him as well. I don’t feel good about it. I’m glad I was too drunk to remember most of it. But, these guys played in an era all to themselves. And, they excelled in that era. They were the best Super Soldiers during the war.
Remember, people like Jason Grimsley and Juan Rincon and Ryan Franklin were juicing. Lots of guys were juicing. Lots. And, they still kind of sucked, or at best were average. Sure, there’s an argument that they had to juice to stay within the vicinity of the big guns, but that still doesn’t negate that lots and lots of players did it.
So, in hindsight, which is quite literally the purpose of the Hall of Fame, the best players from any era should be included. If not, then there needs to be some real hard looks at who got in and when. Babe Ruth played when African-Americans weren’t allowed to play against him. How much was his career helped by that? He never got penalized for literally having one of the greatest advantages known to the game bestowed upon him. On the flipside Bob Gibson dominated in era where the mound was raised creating a huge advantage for pitchers. So much so they had to lower the mound. Thats huge, but we ignore it, and Ruth’s advantage, because it was a legal part of the game.
Well, so were PEDs before 2005.
It’s time to move passed this and just accept that guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens deserve to be in the Hall. Mark McGwire too. They do. It seems childish at this point to keep waxing on about the integrity of a game built on horrendous racism and unbelievable greed that manifested in the mistreatment of players and breaking down of cities.
Of course for most of these players their window is closed and they have an even smaller chance of making it in, but they deserve it.
We deserve it. We all deserve to look back at that particular era in Baseball with joy, because that’s what it was. The 1990’s were flashy and crazy and fun. It’s sad we let the gatekeepers take it away from the very people it matters most.
Was it wrong in hindsight? Sure. Are players cheating now? You bet. Have they always cheated? Of course. Are you cheating? Probably.
They hit homeruns. They struck people out. They reached heights no player ever reached. But, that’s not why we punished them. We punished them because we could never do what they did, even if we took all the steroids in the world, and this is our sad, tiny way of controlling it.
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