Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio were elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame on Tuesday, marking the first time since 1955 that writers elected four players in one year.
Johnson, Martinez and Smoltz combined for nine Cy Young awards and 26 All-Star appearances, while Biggio had 3,060 hits over 20 seasons – all with the Houston Astros.
So, did the writers get it right?
“Yeah, I think so,” Yahoo! Sports MLB columnist Jeff Passan said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Look, I voted for 10 guys. I would’ve liked to have seen Barry Bonds get in. I would’ve liked to have seen Roger Clemens get in. I think Mike Piazza is going to get in next year. I voted for Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines, both of whom I think will get in a couple years down the road, and Curt Schilling as well. And I think Mike Mussina and Edgar Martinez probably have good cases too, so I could see a scenario in which all those guys eventually get into the Hall of Fame except for Bonds and Clemens. But I think for the most part, the writers did (get) it right – this time through, especially. Biggio needed to get in now, and I think the three first-ballot guys that got in deserved it.”
So wait, if Passan wants Bonds and Clemens in the Hall of Fame, does that mean he doesn’t care about steroid use?
“I don’t think it’s that I don’t care about steroid use,” Passan said. “I think it’s a couple of things. No. 1, the way that medicine is these days, what is a performance-enhancing drug versus what is a legal thing that is not vilified by politicians because it doesn’t fall under the auspices of something that they’ve been fighting for like Orrin Hatch in Utah with dietary supplements? I mean, what’s the difference between a procedure and a drug? And why are they different? Are they different because we want to be moral arbiters on it? I’m not going to sit here and be that moral arbiter and say one thing is okay while another is not.
“But more important than that to me is the fact that I don’t know who was taking them and who was not taking them,” Passan continued. “And the idea that I’m going to vote for somebody who eventually I find out was taking something when I didn’t vote for somebody who I thought or knew was taking them doesn’t seem fair to me. To me, it’s an all-or-nothing proposition, and I’m not going to scrape away and scrub away an entire era of baseball on account of some sort of moral judgment. I think that’s what guys are doing. I think the Hall of Fame is full of warts, and these are more warts that are going to be shown on account of it.”
To Doug Gottlieb, however, there’s a difference between guys who may have used steroids and guys who we know probably did – such as Bonds and Clemens. In a way, it’s like speeding; everyone speeds – even when they’re just following the flow of traffic – but someone is going to get ticketed and has to pay a fine.
“So if you get caught speeding, you are worse than the other guy out there who is speeding?” Passan asked. “You’re not worse than him, though. That’s the thing. I think it should be an all-or-nothing situation. To me, if I don’t know who was using something, how can I judge one guy on what another guy might have been doing when my lack of knowledge on a particular subject – or my admitted ignorance – is going to get in the way?”
In any event, the Hall of Fame induction ceremony will be held Sunday, July, 26, in Cooperstown.