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