I love Joe Morgan. He was a superstar player and a fantastic commentator. However I draw the line with my love at sanctimonious letter-writing concerning so-called steroid-users entering the Hall of Fame. Joe Morgan recently penned a screed claiming most Hall of Famers are adamantly opposed to the induction of known steroid-users into the Hall of Fame.
His letter is interesting in that it explicitly states three criteria he believes should be the standard:
- Players identified in the Mitchell Report
- Players who failed drug tests
- Players who admitted using steroids
While I agree with Joltin’ Joe that enshrinement in the Hall of Fame is sacrosanct and I respect his notion of what is sacred within the context of Baseball, he is simply wrong here. Interestingly, his letter claims to speak on behalf of many current Hall of Famers:
“I have been approached by many Hall of Fame members telling me we needed to do something to speak out about the possibility of steroid users entering the Hall of Fame.”
He does concede however: “I don’t know how everyone feels…”
and then makes the claim that “It’s gotten to the point where Hall of Famers are saying that if steroid users get in, they’ll no longer come to Cooperstown for induction ceremonies or other events.”
Willie McCovey recently responded in his own dignified and tactful way by saying: ““I just think it’s a sin he’s not in there. “If anybody deserved to be in the Hall of Fame, it’s Barry.”
Somebody had to stick up for Barry Lamar and I am glad it was Stretch.
The issue has been debated ad infinitum: players have used and consumed substances for decades to enhance their performances. Steroids only heightened the stakes, upped the ante and created a moral conundrum for Major League Baseball. There are moral clauses within the election rules to be considered for enshrinement in the Hall but seriously folks, if you integrate questions of morality you might as well empty out half of the inductees for a variety of offenses ranging from public drunkenness to adultery and lewd and lascivious behavior. The line gets pretty fuzzy pretty quickly once the word “morality” comes into play.
I believe the only way this issue is resolved is if players are analyzed individually for each career and within reasonable standards. The steroid history of Baseball is not going away and the Hall will likely have to induct some players implicated in that era. The tide will be more accepting in the future and I think it is only a matter of time before Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are in.
Happy New Year!