The day the Hall of Fame died

The day the Hall of Fame died

January 9th, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

From left, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

Today is an important day in the history of America's national pastime. But it's not because the Baseball Writers' Association of America will announce the newest members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame (if there are any). Sadly, it's because the Baseball Hall of Fame will transform from an American treasure into a largely worthless and meaningless mess - all because of a pointless government witch-hunt.

This year, the writers who vote to elect which players are enshrined in the Hall of Fame faced a ballot filled with at least a dozen legitimate Hall-worthy players. Still, it's possible that none of them will get in.

It's almost certain that the two best - Barry Bonds, the most prolific power hitter in the history of baseball, and Roger Clemens, the greatest pitcher of all time according to a recent ESPN ranking of the best baseball players ever - won't even get close to receiving the necessary 75 percent of the votes needed to gain induction in Cooperstown.

The omission of those great players will change the very essence of the National Baseball Hall of Fame from a thorough celebration of the games' greats throughout history to a haphazard collection of players who didn't upset baseball writers' puritanical sensibilities.

And it's all because of performance-enhancing drugs - and not because of PEDs themselves as much as government's vilification of them.

By not voting for players deserving of enshrinement in Cooperstown, writers are inferring they "cheated" by taking PEDs even though Bonds and Clemens have never admitted to, or been found guilty of, taking PEDs. (But who's kidding whom? The mountain of circumstantial evidence is damning.)

But why should it matter if they took PEDs or not? Plenty of players who cheated are in the Hall of Fame.

Henry Aaron and Willie Mays - two of baseball's four greatest offensive forces of all time, along with Bonds and Babe Ruth - admitted to taking amphetamines in an attempt to improve their performance. Hall of Fame pitchers Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry notoriously gained an advantage by doctoring the ball and throwing illegal pitches. Still, writers aren't trying to yank their plaques out of Cooperstown.

Hall of Fame voters are more reluctant about enshrining suspected steroid users because they have been influenced by the federal government's nonsensical war on PEDs. They basically allowed the government to turn them into dozens of self-appointed little deputies in the goofy battle.

The federal government, hoping to bring down manufacturers of steroids, human growth hormones and other PEDs, and end the use of PEDs along the way, decided the best course of action would be to train its guns on professional athletes - particularly baseball players.

By exposing baseball heroes for using PEDs, the government figured it could turn people like Bonds, Clemens and others into cautionary tales and keep regular Americans from using PEDs. The plan couldn't have backfired worse.

Despite spending millions of tax dollars on legal proceedings related to perjury trials for both Bonds and Clemens, the federal government never got the major convictions it sought.

Even more embarrassing for the government, because of the on-the-field performance of suspected PED users highlighted by the federal government, the interest in PEDs spiked across America, meaning there are now more PED makers and users than ever.

The whole debacle raises an important question: If a player wants to use steroids, why should it be the government's responsibility to step in and stop him?

Sure, baseball writers are the ones leaving Hall of Fame caliber players like Bonds and Clemens off their ballots and preventing baseball fans from seeing them immortalized in Cooperstown. Ultimately, however, the federal government is responsible for ruining the Baseball Hall of Fame.