It seems to me, the Baseball Writers Association of America, the folks that cast ballots on Hall of Fame inductions, are as divided as the U.S. Congress. I’ve read the articles, I’ve watched the episodes and I’ve heard the debates on who should and should not be allowed into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Sarcasm aside I do respect the process and procedure for HOF induction and I firmly believe it should be the BBWAA doing the voting. These men and women follow the game on a daily basis and their opinion should be heard and respected.
However, one can only assume that with such influential positions comes: responsibility, opposition, peer pressure and debate. Especially during voting season. I’m of the opinion ‘the steroid era’ has come to a head. We can no longer sweep it under the rug, we can no longer wait till next year, we have come to the end of our procrastination. If we allow one or two into the HOF does that not open up the door for all? I don’t envy these writers, no sir/ma’am! I am curious however, on what newly elected President Donald Trump would have to say on the matter. Oh well, I guess I’ll wait for the Tweet.
My point. I’m hoping that the judgment of the BBWAA is not clouded by all the smoke. I’m hoping that we can set aside popular opinion. I’m hoping that we can take a look at the bigger picture and what this era means to its generation of fans.
THE BIGGER PICTURE
The ‘Steroid Era’ in baseball was between 1985-2005. I grew up in this era. In 1985 I was a freshman in high school and can testify as a witness for the defense that the ‘steroid era’ went far beyond the borders of the MLB. Looking at the facts: did you know that in the 80’s & 90’s the steroid epidemic had trickled all the way to the high school level? Did you know that it was so bad in order to control it the Anabolic Steroids Control Act was signed in 1990? This toughened the laws for the illegal sale and distribution of steroids. Did that slow things down? No, it just solidified the black market. Did you know as per a survey done by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in 2001, 4.3 of all 12th grade high school students admitted they illegally used steroids?
It seems like the culture of that day was infatuated with the concept of gaining muscle mass. Heck my high school even had a Body Building Contest where several elite upper class men had a stage to showcase their physiques! What influenced all this popularity? In my opinion the 1977 movie entitled, Pumping Iron featuring a documentary of Arnold Schwarzenegger. I remember the awestruck look on the faces of my friends when we first saw this movie. I believe it inspired a generation of young men to explore this option in an effort to emulate the persona portrayed in this documentary.
BASEBALL FANS OF THIS ERA
I have always been an avid fan of baseball. I grew up watching: McGwire, Bonds, Clemens, etc. These guys were the best of the best. I followed their entire careers and to tell me their not Hall of Fame worthy, well I feel like I’m being punished right along with them. The Generation X’ers that followed the game will tell you without a doubt, in their hearts, they are Hall of Famers. They are the All Stars, the Babe Ruth’s, the Mickey Mantle’s of our era.
To the Baby Boomers – I see your arguments and they are valid. And I respect them. But when will you take responsibility and realize that perhaps you had something to do with this too? You see you knew what was going on, the Players Union knew what was going on, the owners knew what was going on, the MLB knew what was going on. Yet nobody said or did anything and now we the Generation X’ers are left holding the bag and it doesn’t smell very good either.
To the Millennials – unfortunately the stinky bag is being handed to you. You have inherited the sins of the past. I’m hoping that you could extend some grace. Do we deserve it? No. But I’m hoping your judgement doesn’t get clouded by all the smoke. I’m hoping you can see through everyone else’s opinion and see the bigger picture; there is a generation of fans that desire to see their heroes, flaws and all, enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame. (emphasis mine)