Use of steroids should not bar certain HOFers

By Jeremy Werner

Cheating and sports have an interesting relationship. They’ve been together a long time and seem to benefit from each other. But they don’t like being seen together because when they are, scandal breaks and the backlash is monstrous.

Major League Baseball had quite a scandal on its hands the past few years. Jose Canseco’s book “Juiced” claimed up to 85 percent of major league players used steroids. The number was arbitrary but sparked the entire controversy of widespread use of performance-enhancing drugs in the majors.

Since then we’ve seen a witch hunt for who took what, when, where and for how long. But I ask you this: Does it really matter?

What happened has happened. The last 15 years saw a huge increase in home runs, some probably aided by the bulging muscles gained by the use of performance enhancers.

This era of baseball should be treated as it is, the era of the long ball and performance enhancers. But suspicion or even admitted use should not be taken into account when it comes to Hall of Fame consideration.

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When Mark McGwire was put on the ballot for Cooperstown in 2006, he received only 23.5 percent of the vote from baseball writers. Players must receive 75 percent to be admitted to the Hall of Fame.

I challenge you to give me more than 10 players that have truly influenced the game more in the past decade than McGwire. During their record-setting season in 1998, McGwire and Sammy Sosa, by themselves, brought baseball back from the grave the MLB dug after the 1994 strike. They should be first-ballot Hall of Famers, no questions about it.

Now, you may say they are cheaters. Really? Because before 2002, Major League Baseball had no official rules against the use of steroids or other performance enhancers. Again, this is the era in which everyone was getting bigger and hitting more home runs, not just McGwire, Sosa and that guy named Bonds.

Hitters are and were not the only ones to use steroids and other performance enhancers. Twenty-one of the 47 players who tested positive for steroids and subsequently suspended in 2005 were pitchers. Steroids are known to help pitchers’ arms recover quicker. Yet, we hardly ever hear that Roger Clemens or Pedro Martinez should be suspected of steroids.

Also, performance enhancers have a much longer history in baseball than the past few decades. “Greenies,” also known as amphetamines or speed, are known to have been widely used by players in the 1970s to overcome fatigue, but players who used them are likely still in Cooperstown.

So why then do we shut out the best players from the past decade we once embraced and praised not too long ago?

McGwire, Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro are all on the top 10 career home run list but will likely be kept from entering Cooperstown because of suspicion of using performance enhancers. Those are just three players, but three of the best players in the past two decades.

What happens when sluggers Manny Ramirez, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome and Gary Sheffield appear on the Hall-of-Fame ballot? Will they be denied just because they played in an era in which use of performance enhancers was the norm?

Bonds is probably the most hated man in baseball, maybe in all of sports.

He’s a jerk and most likely legally took some performance enhancers during his career. He’s only hit more than 50 home runs in his career once with his record-setting mark of 73 in 2001.

Even if you take away all the home runs he hit in 2001, Bonds would be nearing 700 home runs. Bonds is the greatest hitter of the past 30 years and could arguably be the best hitter of all time, so it will be a sad day in baseball history when baseball writers will unite and deny Bonds entry into the place he simply deserves to be: Cooperstown.

Jeremy Werner is a junior in Communications. He can be reached at [email protected].