Steroids shouldn’t stop Hall of Famers

David Koier, Courier Staff

On Jan. 24, we saw four new baseball legends get elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome and Trevor Hoffman; all received the phone call that they would be forever enshrined in Cooperstown next to all the other baseball greats.

Among those who didn’t make the Hall this year, there are a few people who I thought should never make it in. What do these few players have in common? They were either suspected or confirmed to have used performance enhancing drugs. The biggest cases of these in my opinion are Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and one player who is no longer eligible, Mark McGwire.

These men were all big names during the late 1990s which was properly nicknamed the “Steroid Era.” Many people believe this era revitalized the game of baseball. McGwire and Sosa were both a part of the 1998 home run race that sparked interest throughout the nation. Bonds is also a big name in home runs as he is the current all-time home run king with 762 home runs, and he also had a single-season home run record of 73. Clemens dominated on the mound with seven Cy Young awards in his career accompanied by an AL MVP.

All these men had such historic careers, yet none of them have their plaques in the Hall. Three of the four players have admitted to steroid usage, Sosa being the lone player not admitting to his alleged usage.

Clemens, Bonds and Sosa were on this year’s ballot for their sixth year of eligibility, leaving only four years for them to reach the 75 percent of votes allowing them to become immortal. Bonds and Clemens have each received over 50 percent of votes for the past two years, while Sosa has only received over 10 percent once in his six years of eligibility.

You may be wondering, “Why is he listing off the accomplishments of all these players?” The answer to that is should these gentlemen be allowed into the National Baseball Hall of Fame?

For starters, that question is really opinionated, so you can ask 10 different people and each will give you a different answer and their own reason why. To answer that question though, we must analyze each of the individual statistics for each player. I’m going to focus on the two dominating hitters, Bonds and McGwire.

Let’s start with McGwire. The 12-time All-Star started off his career pretty strong, posting a .289 batting average and hitting 49 home runs. Both of these stats along with many others led to him scoring an AL Rookie of the Year award. Over the next few seasons, he posted similar numbers, but due to injuries some of these seasons were cut short.

He really took off in the 1996 season when he posted a .312 batting average and 52 home runs. McGwire only went up from here, scoring numbers that constantly astounded the baseball community. It wasn’t until 1998 that the entire nation really took notice of McGwire and the game of baseball as a whole.

McGwire and Sosa dominated the 1998 home run leaderboard as it became apparent that one of them would break baseball legend Roger Marris’s single-season home run record. It was a close race throughout the entire season which made it so exciting for baseball and non-baseball fans alike.

The race ended with McGwire on top of the homerun leaderboard with an astonishing 70 home runs in the season, and Sosa not far behind with 68. This home run race is credited for “saving baseball” as it brought newer and younger fans to the game, as well as older fans who were discouraged by the strike a few years prior.

McGwire’s dominating performance wasn’t left unnoticed though. Many people were skeptical of his steroid usage, and went to trial along with numerous other players including Bonds and Clemens. McGwire admitted to his usage but cited that he mostly used them to help recover from his injuries in the early 90s.

The question for McGwire still stands: does he deserve the Hall? Yes! He should have been a first ballot Hall of Famer. McGwire was one of the game’s best power hitters and even before he started using PEDs, he was posting numbers that hadn’t been seen in years. He, along with Sosa, are a big reason why baseball was reemerging in the late 1990s. The fact that he isn’t rewarded is sad.

With a 21- year career and a batting average of .298, Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame because of that record. This man, in some fans’ opinions, is one of the greatest baseball players of all time. Yet with all of this greatness comes accusations, including his increased size growth, which made fans suspect he was using PEDs.

Bonds stated that he did not use any kind of steroids throughout his career. It was later revealed that he did use them, but Bonds and his legal team told prosecutors that the team trainer misinformed him as to what he was given.

As the all-time home run king, surpassing greats such as Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, most believe that Bonds should be in the Hall. This is where I am a bit fuzzy on the subject.

With McGwire, you have a man who only took the steroids to heal from some injuries and continue to play the game he loved. Bonds on the other hand never used them to heal injuries. He used them to reshape his body and boost his stats. That in my opinion is cheating.

The only reason I think he should be allowed in is because he was scoring high numbers before he started using PEDs. I don’t think, however, that he should be able to hold onto his records; because there is no way that he would have those numbers without steroids.

So what’s the final verdict? Yes. Steroid users should be allowed to be in the Hall of Fame. With four more years of eligibility and already so high on the voting list, it looks like Bonds and Clemens will soon be awarded in Cooperstown. As for McGwire, the man who helped revamp baseball, we will unfortunately never see his name on the walls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.