Take me out to the ball game!
Baseball is “America’s pastime.” The sport has made history in many different ways and is woven into the fabric of our national history.
One of the unfortunate ways it has left its mark is with steroid use. While Major League Baseball banned steroids in 1991, the “Steroid Era” persisted into the late 1990s and early 2000s.
While the MLB steroid scandals are, for the most part, in the past, they still pose a major issue for the sport: The Hall of Fame.
MLB Hall of Fame
The Hall of Fame (HOF) is one of the most prestigious awards any baseball player can get. Members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America get the chance to vote players into the HOF based on “the ultimate ratification of the player’s impact on the game.”
In 2013, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America did not allow any players into the HOF who were suspected of steroids. However, there seems to be a recent shift where players with steroid allegations are being voted in.
Why the Shift?
One potential reason for the shift is the change in writers. Many older members who covered sports during the Steroid Era are no longer writing, and new, younger writers are taking over. Many of these younger writers do not believe that steroid accusations should totally eliminate a HOF prospect.
Should Players Suspected of Steroid Use be Considered for the Hall of Fame?
Opinions vary when it comes to HOF criteria and potential doping. Some people doubt the impact of steroids on baseball and think some players were too incredible to leave out. Peter Gammons of the MLB network said “I finally just decided, you know what, they’re so great that they should be in the Hall of Fame because it’s a museum of baseball history.”
Some call for a case-by-case examination, specifically when considering players who broke the rules before 2004 and those who did after the testing and policing procedures in 2005. Using this model, players would be examined more specifically and assessed individually.
Others believe that steroid use, or use of any other banned substance, is intended to improve your game and is a form of cheating that should not be tolerated in the HOF. According to Joe Morgan, the official position of players already in the HOF is, “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here.”
Unfortunately, there is no clear way to navigate this issue due to the longstanding connection between steroid use and baseball. It is impossible to know how many of baseball’s greats were even taking steroids, and if they would have been the same amazing players without them.
Did true talent get overshadowed by drug use? If we accept these players into the HOF, what message are we sending to young players?