Ken Griffey Jr. and Mike Piazza were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Wednesday, albeit under slightly different circumstances. Griffey, in his first year on the ballot, set a record by garnering 99.3 percent of the vote. Piazza, on the other hand, received 83.0 percent of the vote in his fourth Cooperstown go-around.
The biggest reason for Piazza’s lower vote and longer wait? Speculation that he used steroids.
“Nobody feared a catcher more than any pitcher who was facing Mike Piazza, and certainly his numbers do speak for themselves,” 2015 Hall of Fame inductee John Smoltz said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “All the speculations about who did what, how and where is an interesting one. It’ll be a discussion that we continue to have. I know it has surrounded Mike, and time will tell in how he is able to enjoy the moment but at the same time either displace those rumors or just go on with his incredible career – because that is going to be the things that people talk about in the coming years when you talk about the guys that have increased in votes that are suspected for the use of PEDs. That’s still a hot topic for a lot of guys, and obviously the change in votes and the writers have spoken different in some cases.”
Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds received 45.2 and 44.3 percent of the vote, respectively. That’s nowhere near the necessary 75 percent for induction, but it’s also their highest totals to date. Last year, Clemens and Bonds received 37.5 and 36.8 percent, respectively.
“To me, there’s a line of truth that I’m not willing to water down,” Smoltz said. “My standard is this: Let’s just pick golf. Imagine if you’re in the tournament and one of the guys has vaseline on their club head and you can’t see it and it allows them to hit the ball straight. It takes the spin off the ball. It’s not right. It’s an unfair advantage. It’s cheating. But imagine if you take a guy who’s never played the game of golf, put vaseline on his club – that doesn’t make him a golfer. So it’s not taking away from the golf ability; it’s just giving you an unfair advantage.
“It’s the same thing, I feel, about PEDs,” Smoltz continued. “You had an unfair advantage, you competed artificially to where your numbers are going to be a little authentically not proven and the longevity of your career gave you an edge over most. So you got the financial gain for that. You got the notoriety of what you did. I just think by making that choice, you forgo your opportunity to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. That’s my opinion because having competed the way I did and fighting like my teammates did legitimately throughout the game, the problem is we don’t have definitive answers on a lot of people. All we have is rumors.”
Smoltz has a remedy for those rumors.
“If that ever happened to me and that was one of the things that people thought about me,” Smoltz said, “I would go on national TV, put a lie-detector test right in front of me and you can ask me any question you want. That ends it. If I don’t get in, it’s because it has nothing to do with rumors and innuendos.
“That’s where I kind of stand full circle on how people make choices. When they make choices, there should be retributions or sacrifices to their choices. We’re going to find out if that holds true over time.”