MLB’s Salem’s Lot Shouldn’t Play Favorites

Nobody’s shedding a tear for Barry Bonds, MLB’s all-time career home run king and single-season champ. All that hard work. All those great moments mean jack now.

Nobody’s about to jump off the Gateway Arch in “Da Lou” because Mark McGwire’s 583 homers can’t help “Big Mac” acquire voting percentages worthy enough to buy fries at Cooperstown. What does that magical moment mean anymore when he hugged the Maris family after eclipsing Roger’s long-standing single-season record of 61? Or when he triumphantly lifted his son up into the air at home plate after tying Maris.

Are we supposed to act like it never happened, like Bud Selig and the BBWAA do?

A seven-time Cy Young award winner can’t get more than 35 percent of BBWA cats to acknowledge that they witnessed him whiff an MLB-record 20 Mariners in 1986. Roger “Rocket” Clemens was the American League’s tall, lanky and white version of Doc Gooden way before PEDs stormed the MLB scene.

Mike Piazza who is the greatest hitting catcher of all time (Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella and Yogi Berra may disagree) can only get 62.2 percent of the vote because of PED suspicion.

Sammy Sosa’s homer battle with McGwire was baseball’s saving grace after the 1994 strike crippled fan enthusiasm. The original Dominican Don Da Da (along with Jorge Bell) hit 609 homers in his career, but he only managed to garner a little over 5 percent of the vote and will likely drop off the ballot next year.

None of these supreme basebrawlers tested positive for PEDs during their careers, but each is paying a deep price for being accused or suspected of use and fell short of the 75 percent needed to be inducted with the 2014 MLB Hall of Fame class. 

So why should I pour out a little liquor for Craig Biggio because his PED suspicion left him .2% votes short of Wednesday’s HOF induction? 

I can’t take the sheepish route of some media talking heads and start bashing the voting process. I did that enough when last season’s inductions included no one who had been alive since 1930. I laid my banter down again in an article, “MLB HOF Voting Is Straight Suspect", when the HOF tickets of “Steroid Era” managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox were punched by The Veteran’s Committee in December.

But the fact that they were able to finish their careers with heads held high—as heroes of the game—when they managed in the heart of the steroids era is straight bullshi*t… it’s hard for me to feel good about a baseball community that vilifies players and denies them entrance into the Hall based on PED use/suspicion, but celebrates the managers of these same dirty players.

The induction ceremony on July 27 in Cooperstown, N.Y., should be bittersweet for a baseball community whose on-the-field heroes are still being punished for the steroids era…Seems like an unfair double-standard.

As much as I despise MLB’s recent witch hunt and its classless and self-deprecating overindulgence in destroying its legends, I disagree that a player whose name has also been mentioned with PED use be given a pass. Especially if those guys were twice the player he was with or without PEDs, which is the case with Biggio, if you compare his career to some other castigated HOFers.

Under the circumstances, if the BBWA and MLB is going to freely defecate on certain suspected legends, then they need to stick to their guns and continue making the anti-drug statement -no matter how unpopular. Eventually the fans will accept it, but it must be done with integrity. If writers, owners and commissioner Selig want to revamp MLB’s steroids-tarnished reputation, then they can start with having some uniformity in this Hall of Fame voting process in regards to the way the BBWAA treats suspected PED cheats.

We need to kill this swelling uproar about Biggio getting shafted and writers such as ESPN’s Buster Olney need to chillax on suggesting the 10-player limit is too restrictive to voters. It’s all posturing because they are Biggio guys.

Dudes such as Bonds and Clemens don’t have that luxury because they weren't always cordial with teh media. It’s like coming to an old school chains-and-bats fight against your crosstown rivals and saying “I’m only going to punch Ricky but not Ralph because he dapped me up in school once”

Former New York Times columnist Murray Chass and a contingent of baseball heads believes that Biggio did PEDs . Biggio’s suspicion is driven by the fact that he was a clubhouse leader on an Astros squad that had famous PED user Ken Caminiti (RIP) and Jeff Bagwell—who several writers have explicitly accused of using PEDs despite the fact that he’s never been directly outed as a PED user by any “credible” investigative source.

Biggio was a short, stocky multi-skilled player who began his career as a catcher, moved to second base and finished with over 3,000 hits. His reputation as a media darling and “good team guy” makes him more likeable than some other candidates, but that’s not a reason for voting him into the HOF if the unwritten rule among BBWAA members is that Steroids Era dudes and anyone rumored to be associated with PEDs gets shut down. 

Chase, a long-tenured BBWAA member, had this to say in December about his Hall of Fame voting philosophy:

The boxes next to these 10 names will not get an X: Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Eric Gagne, Paul Lo Duca, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa. These non-exes won’t get my vote because they were proved to have cheated, admitted they cheated or are strongly suspected of having cheated.

Judging from the direction the BBWAA has steered us in the past few seasons, all suspected steroids cheats should get blanket rejections.

No playing favorites. 

JR Gamble joined The Shadow League in 2012. The General Manager of Content & Social Media is in his 25th year of covering sports and culture professionally. He has covered a wide variety of major sports and entertainment topics across different mediums, including radio, newspapers, magazines and national TV. His passion is baseball, the culturing of baseball and preserving and documenting the historically-impactful accomplishments and contributions of African-Americans in baseball.