For Barry Bonds and Rogers Clemens, the Hall of Fame shunning by baseball writers wasn't just a first-year-on-the-ballot punishment. Results of the 2014 ballot were announced Wednesday and, again, neither Bonds nor Clemens is close to sniffing Cooperstown.
That's to be expected. Their connection to PEDs and the moral decision a Hall of Fame vote has become for many BBWAA members made Bonds and Clemens a tough sell. Some fans have hoped writers would be more lenient in year two, having made their tsk-tsking statement already.
At least numbers-wise, that's not the case. The five players on the ballot most closely linked to PEDs — that's Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire — all saw their votes drop in 2014. Clemens remains the closest, with a hope to get in eventually. Bonds is close behind. Meanwhile, Palmeiro will now be off the ballot completely after not capturing five percent of the vote (about 57 votes were necessary). Sosa could join him next year.
This isn't strictly a condemnation of the PED-linked players. While some writers have taken stances against them, 2014 was also a very crowded ballot. So if a certain writer wanted to dodge taking a PED stance, there were enough other options on the ballot to justify tabling that discussion. Bad new is, that crowded ballot isn't going away anytime soon.
Beyond Clemens, Bonds, McGwire and Sosa, there are two other players whose Hall of Fame cases have been hampered by PED allegations. That's Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell. Piazza is actually the only player whose vote totals increased this year, and he's likely on the path to enshrinement in the next few years.
Neither Bagwell nor Piazza were officially linked to PEDs or punished by MLB for using them. This is a case of writers simply thinking their stats are too good to be true without a little artificial help. This, of course, is a very wiggly line to draw in the sand.
Because of that, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan sees the possibility of Piazza opening the doors of the Hall for Bonds, Clemens and future generations of players who make baseball fans say, "I wonder if he's clean."
In his Hall of Fame column, Passan writes:
The steroid speculation around Piazza – based in rumor, unfounded in evidence – has not torpedoed his candidacy as much as delayed it. Piazza almost assuredly is getting in, and once he does, perhaps the fiercest of the steroid moralists will begin to soften in their stances. If for whatever reason they believe Piazza used, and Piazza is in, no longer is the Hall some hallowed ground to protect. It becomes what it should be: a monument to history, to the best players who played the game.
That makes sense. But remember, this is the Hall of Fame we're talking about. Even when something makes sense, that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Right, Craig Biggio?
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