LOVERRO

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - Thom Loverro hosts his weekly pod­cast “Cigars & Curve­balls” Wed­nes­days avail­able on iTunes and Google Play.

Amer­ica vot­ers who some­how saw them­selves as fight­ing to fix some in­jus­tice.

Ev­ery­one should be proud of that. The im­pact of Bonds, Cle­mens and other cheaters like Mark McGwire is al­ready felt in Coop­er­stown. Their pres­ence is of­ten through­out the mu­seum there, de­pend­ing on the chang­ing ex­hibits, with the ar­ti­facts that helped de­fine their ca­reers. All that is miss­ing is a plaque.

The no­tion that the Hall of Fame was dam­aged some­how by the lack of Bonds, Cle­mens and other cheaters was al­ways lu­di­crous. Nei­ther Bonds nor Cle­mens will be there to give you a per­sonal tour when you visit the hall.

They will likely, though, be there for their in­duc­tion, if it comes, and for the op­por­tu­nity to give their speech. I al­ready feel sorry for any oth­ers who may be elected in the same year as ei­ther of these two cheaters. Their elec­tion will be dwarfed and di­min­ished by the at­ten­tion paid to Bonds and Cle­mens, who will be re­warded once again for cheat­ing.

Then they will have the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn ev­ery July for Hall of Fame in­duc­tion week­end to sit on a stage with Hall of Famers who, both pri­vately and pub­licly, have made it clear that they would re­sent the pres­ence of ei­ther player up on stage with them.

Hall of Famer Ryne Sand­berg spoke for a num­ber of his fel­low Hall of Famers when, in his 2005 in­duc­tion speech, he talked about play­ing the game “the right way” and again in a 2013 MLB. com in­ter­view when he said, “base­ball is based on num­bers, and I be­lieve that any tainted num­bers do not be­long in the Hall of Fame.”

It will be fun and games in the fu­ture for Hall of Fame week­end.

The cheated gen­er­a­tion will fi­nally be ap­peased, though. Their at­ten­tion and de­vo­tion grow­ing up in an era of frauds will be af­firmed. And the truth will not mat­ter. It’s a pop­u­lar trend these days.

It won’t mat­ter that steroids were banned in base­ball in 1991 in a let­ter to clubs by then-com­mis­sioner Fay Vin­cent, fol­low­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment ban on such sub­stances. It won’t mat­ter that Bonds is an ad­mit­ted cheater and Cle­mens, who had a chance to take the stand and clear his name in a defama­tion suit filed by his ac­cuser and for­mer friend and trainer from the Mitchell Re­port, Brian McNamee, in­stead opted to set­tle.

It won’t mat­ter that com­mis­sioner Bud Selig, whose re­cent elec­tion to the hall has been seen as some sort of ticket for cheaters to Coop­er­stown, tried to get stricter drug test­ing but was re­buffed by the play­ers union at ev­ery turn, un­til its mem­bers it­self were so em­bar­rassed by be­ing dragged up to Capi­tol Hill to tes­tify that they called for it. No, it will be Amer­ica in 2016. There are six cri­te­ria for elec­tion un­der the rules of the Hall of Fame. Three of them are sports­man­ship, in­tegrity and char­ac­ter. I chose to take those se­ri­ously. You can say there are all kinds of cheaters, repro­bates and weasels in Coop­er­stown — which had noth­ing to do with my vote. I didn’t vote for any of them, and I am not bound by ev­ery vote that has taken place be­fore me.

The Base­ball Writers As­so­ci­a­tion of Amer­ica, of which I’m a mem­ber, is the or­ga­ni­za­tion re­spon­si­ble for vot­ing on who gets into Coop­er­stown.

When I cast my bal­lot last week, here’s who I voted for: Jeff Bag­well, Vladimir Guer­rero, Trevor Hoff­man, Jeff Kent, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Ivan Ro­driguez and Larry Walker.

It ap­pears that base­ball’s great­est cheaters are closer than ever to be­ing hon­ored for those ti­tles by elec­tion to the Na­tional Base­ball Hall of Fame. Ac­cord­ing to those who are in the busi­ness of count­ing bal­lots made pub­lic be­fore the of­fi­cial vote to­tals are re­leased, Barry Bonds and Roger Cle­mens are closer than ever to the re­quired 75 per­cent needed for elec­tion to Coop­er­stown.

This re­ported jump in sup­port is some­thing right out of the po­lit­i­cal gerry-mand­ing play­book. You don’t like the way the vote is go­ing? Get rid of the vot­ers who op­pose your can­di­date — which is ex­actly what hap­pened since the rules have been changed.

Whether the change was right or wrong — if Barry Bonds, Roger Cle­mens and other cheaters had al­ready been in Coop­er­stown, no such change would have taken place — if that trend con­tin­ues, the home-run hit­ter who ad­mit­ted to us­ing “the cream” and “the clear” in grand jury tes­ti­mony and the pitcher who was the star cheater named in the re­port by a for­mer U.S. se­na­tor who bro­kered peace in North­ern Ire­land will be re­warded for cheat­ing their team­mates and fans.

So what will Bonds and Cle­mens get if and when they com­plete the fi­nal act of their fraud?

A plaque — and a seat on a stage where they are not wanted.

Re­spect? Re­stored rep­u­ta­tion? None of that will come. The only val­i­da­tion will be for the tantrum of the cheated gen­er­a­tion and those Base­ball Writers As­so­ci­a­tion of

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