Baseball Hall of Fame comes up empty

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - Shame on the baseball writers.

On Tuesday, it was announced that not a single player was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this year.

It's not that this hasn't happened before. In fact, it's actually happened eight times, the last time coming in 1996.

This time, however, there were plenty of players worthy. It's just that the writers played judge and jury in not electing two of the greatest players to ever play the game: Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Both were obviously denied first-ballot entry because of the steroid controversy that swirls over both of them.

Neither Bonds, who won seven MVPs, or Clemens, who won seven Cy Youngs, ever tested positive steroids. But popular opinion remains that both knowingly used  the performance enhancing drug. Hence, Clemens got just 37.6% of the vote and Bonds got 36.2% of the vote.

For  Tigers' fans, there was disappointment as Jack Morris (67.7%), up just 1.0% from a year ago, and Alan Trammel (33.6%) both didn't make it. Morris will be off the ballot forever if he doesn't make it in the 15th and final year of eligibility. Tram has three years left

Major League Baseball, which has nothing to do with the voting process for the Hall of Fame, issued the following statement:

``Major League Baseball recognizes that election to the Hall of Fame is our game's extraordinary individual honor. Achieving enshrinement in Cooperstown is difficult, as it should be, there have been seven other years when no one was elected by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. While this year did not produce an electee, there are many worthy candidates who will merit consideration in the future. We respect both the longstanding process that the Hall of Fame has in place and the role of the BBWAA, whose members have voted in the Hall of Fame's election since 1936.'' 

I am a Hall of Famer voter and was definitely in the minority when it came to the writers' voting. I voted for Bonds, Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Craig Biggio and Lee Smith.

All should have made the Hall. They all have the credentials. In the old days, Biggio would have been shoo-in with over 3,000 hits. Apparently, the writers aren't impressed by that magic number. He was the closest, though, with 68.2%, 39 votes short in his first year on the ballot.

For sure, the cry will be that the writers should have the honor of voting for the Hall taken away. Nope. That's not the answer.

The writers have taken a lot of pride in voting and have made the standards very high for getting in. It's why the Baseball Hall of Fame is head and shoulders above the other major sports. The other Halls aren't taken nearly as seriously.

It's just that writers have to have the right mindset when it comes to voting. They can't guess or assume anything, no matter what it looks like and that's the problem with the steroid era in baseball.

Many believe they should punish players suspected of PED use, even without evidence. It's just plain wrong.

The idea is to simply judge the player's performance. No one knows how much steroids really made players better because many who used the stuff didn't come close to being Hall of Famers.

It's not a magical juice that turns a scrub into a Hall of Fame, not even close.

The problem I have with the steroid era is that if you're going to count the attendance, keep the money from those games, keep the stats, keep the wins and the championships, you can't deny the players who excelled during that era.

It just doesn't make sense. It's either all or nothing.

That's where baseball writers get it mixed up, twisted.

If you're going to count the Yankees' championships during that era, you have to recognize Clemens as well.

Same goes for Bonds and the records he broke. They count and are in the record books. It's silly for sports writer to ignore it.

The writers really missed the boat on Bonds and Clemens. They were great player with or without steroids. Both deserved to get elected their first time on the ballot.

Shame, shame.



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