Opinion Editor Ben Cosman said he wouldn't cast a ballot for known and alleged performance-enhancing drugs users, such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa if he could vote in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Creative Ads Manager Joe Schwartz and Assistant Sports Editors David Schantz and Victor Wang join in on the discussion.
Schwartz: The sport traditionalist in me wants to say no, but I appreciate the stats far too much to turn them down.
Schantz: I would. These players have played an important role in our national pastime and deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. That being said, I do not think that they belong in the same class as others. Perhaps a special section could be put up or a note in their plaque stating they used.
Schwartz: To go along with what Schantz is saying, it is important to keep in mind that while Bonds is linked with steroids, so is Clemens, a pitcher who faced Bonds. Thus these guys, both hitters and pitchers, were going against other guys who were juicing, leaving the field. There were dozens and dozens of players using PEDs and only Bonds emerged as the all-time homerun king.
Schantz: If a steroid-using pitcher faces a steroid-using batter, I would say the playing field has been leveled.
Wang: I agree with Schantz. These players have revolutionized some aspect of the game. While steroids improve strength, it still takes skill to swing a bat. To connect on a 90-mile-per-hour ball thrown at you is a testament to skill, not strength, and these players had skills that would get them to the Hall of Fame.
Cosman: It's about setting a precedent. Keeping Bonds, Clemens, etc. out of the Hall of Fame is a message to current players that steroid use will not be tolerated. If they're allowed in, what incentive is there for players now to do it without performance enhancers?
Schantz: But admittance to the Hall of Fame is not the only goal for a major league player. These players have been shunned by players and fans alike, and admitting them to the Hall of Fame under special circumstances could provide a teachable moment for young players today.
Wang: Let's say that there will be a section for steroid users, why would any player want to be known for that? Kind of like a wall of shame.
Schwartz: But you have to acknowledge their unparalleled accomplishments, regardless of PED use. As has already been mentioned, the playing field was relatively leveled. Plus, like Wang said, having a steroid section would give them their recognition in a backhanded way. You must acknowledge these accomplishments, while still somewhat condemning their means of obtaining them.
Cosman: Allowing known steroid-users into the Hall is passively condoning steroid use. It's saying that MLB is going to turn the other cheek when looking back on a player's career.
Wang: But what if their accomplishment was asterisked or put in a separate section? The player's Hall of Fame reputation won't be one of fame but one in infamy.
Cosman: The voters should be voting [for] whether or not a player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, not whether or not they believe the player used PED, or the accomplishments are great enough for admittance in spite of PED use. The matter, for clarity, needs to be kept black and white.
Schwartz: So you are saying proven users have no place in the Hall of Fame and alleged users should be up to the voters?
Wang: I'm just wondering what the description under the name would be? “Mike Piazza: Alleged PED user” still bears a stigma to it.
Schantz: I would not agree with the Hall if they did that. If there is no real evidence, then it would be unjust to put such a distinction on the player's plaque.
Schantz: Bonds, Sosa and Clemens are all Hall of Fame-caliber players. Their known steroid use should be noted in some way, whether with an asterisk or some other distinction.