Eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America are receiving their Hall of Fame ballots this week and must decide if steroid taint outweighs the overwhelming stats put up by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
As the writers vote, they should examine their motives.
Getting into the Hall of Fame is not like winning a batting title, something objective and unassailable. Rather, it mimics gymnastics or figure skating, where judges subjectively assess athletes' performances, sometimes a patently unfair exercise. Remember the Olympics during the Cold War?
Are voters looking to punish the players, both of whom repeatedly earned those same writers' support in winning record numbers of MVP and Cy Young awards, many during the height of the steroid era? Or now that Bonds is no longer mercilessly pounding the ball and Clemens is far removed from being a beastly eminence atop the mound, have they found those players are easy targets for a good moral scrubbing?
The voters have tried to teach lessons before, rejecting Giants pitcher Juan Marichal until three years after he was eligible. They made him wait, despite his worthiness, because he had an ugly fight with another player, ignoring his gaudy, dominating stats.
Even Willie Mays and Hank Aaron didn't receive unanimous acclaim, both being omitted from some addled writers' ballots.
If that isn't anything from self-righteous silliness to arrogant venality, it's close.
So, put Bonds and Clemens in or leave them out. It's the voters' prerogative. We simply hope the reasons rise above teaching a lesson in moral rectitude.
That's the province of people other than sportswriters.
Which player should be voted into baseball's Hall of Fame?
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Do you feel bad for 49ers quarterback Alex Smith?
Yes, he's paid his dues and should start: 52%
No, he gets paid even if he doesn't play: 48%
Total votes: 485