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Should 'roiders be kicked out of the Hall of Fame?

Jan 13, 2010, 12:55 PM EDT

UPDATE: I just interviewed Goose Gossage about this. He was pretty damn cool about. Here’s the story.

As is pretty clear by now, I have no problem putting players associated with steroids into the Hall of Fame. Adjust downward for era, use your horse sense and as much statistical evidence you can to figure out if they would have cut the mustard regardless, but by no means should someone be banned or blackballed simply because they did steroids.

I appreciate that that’s a minority position of course. Much more in the mainstream seems to be Goose Gossage’s view of things:

“I definitely think that they cheated.  And what does the Hall
of Fame consist of? Integrity. Cheating is not part of integrity. The integrity of the Hall of Fame and the numbers and the history are
all in jeopardy. I don’t think
they should be recognized.”

I respect that view even if I don’t agree with it.  But I wonder how far that view goes.

I ask because yesterday Jose Canseco made his obligatory appearance in the steroids circus. And I’m reminded of something he said last summer:

“And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big,
big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer
who’s used . . . Just remember, I have never lied about this subject.”

One has to assume that Canseco — if indeed he is telling the truth — is referring to a former teammate. Otherwise how would he know for sure? For the record, Canseco played with seven players who went on to be inducted to the Hall of Fame: Nolan Ryan, Rickey Henderson, Wade Boggs, Reggie Jackson, Don Sutton, Dennis Eckersley and, um, Goose Gossage.

Question: if it is one day determined that one of those gentlemen — or any other Hall of Famer — did steroids like Canseco says, what then?

I say nothing. Who cares.  But would the people who think like Rich Gossage say the same thing?  Would they be fine with a double standard that allows already-inducted ‘roiders to stay in the Hall of Fame and keeps out those not yet inducted? Or — and this would really get things buzzing — would they spearhead an unprecedented campaign to oust the guilty party?

Anyone have Gossage’s cell so I can ask?

  1. david nystuen - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:29 PM

    Throw them out and ban them from involvement with active baseball.

  2. Chris M. - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    As far as I can tell the Hall of Fame is to honor those who distinguished themselves, in baseball, through natural talent. The accomplishments of the “‘Juicers” were not made on natural talent alone. They had to use a substance to boost themselves beyond their natural talent because their natural talent wasn’t enough, at least not enough to break records.
    Also Pete Rose was banned from the HoF for damaging the integrity of the game through his gambling. While the two are apples and oranges they are both fruit, meaning both have damaged the integrity of the game. To have punished one but not the other shows that honesty and fairness is nothing to be concerned with in the MBL especially when it comes to breaking records to increase fan attendance i.e bring in more money.

  3. DC - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:31 PM

    they say that these guys are cheating, my question is, was it illegal when guys like mcgwire or sosa used. If I am not mistaken it was not against the rules until somewhere around 2004 or so. Now was it fair, most definently not but lets be honest, if you are making millions of dollars and are in this sport and you find something that is not banned by your profession and it makes you much better, who wouldnt take it. If you say you wouldnt then either your lying or incredibly dumb.

  4. Waynesworld - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    What does this to children whose heroes are cheats and liars. Remove them from the Hall. Or, you are telling kids, hey, do roids and cheat, it will get you into the Hall. How very sad !

  5. Kevin - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    The problem is the players created their own veil of suspicion on an entire era (~1985-2003) by fighting against a meaningful testing policy. To cry that they should be punished now when they couldn’t have been punished under the rules of the game when they played is a little hypocritical.
    Did McGwire hit all his home runs off 100% natural pitchers? If all of the pearl clutching, vapor fanning “guardians of the game” can prove that, fine, he’s out.
    It’s just my opinion, but if you can’t prove everyone was clean then everyone was dirty and it was a level playing field. That’s the bed the players union made for the public. Vote them in based on what they did on the field.

  6. Price - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Where do you draw the line? Is there a line? Can anyone cheat at any length and as long as they succeed its OK? If there is no sense of “fair play” then sure, let them all in. But why should someone who doesn’t go by the rules get to be honored when they perform better by cheating than the guy that didn’t cheat? Seems simple to me. You cheat you loose. Only a politician could begin to try and spin that.

  7. Dave - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Thank you for your critical approach to this discussion. For starters, et al refers to the whole of the baseball community. You make a good point, it’s not called the Hall of Piety, but does that mean we must lower our standards and simply allow these fowl acts to occur? No, I think that all baseball players must live up to not only the rules of the game, but also the moral and ethical codes of the world of baseball fans. Now, I know this comment is going to take on some flak, but let me clarify: I’m not religious, and the moral and ethical code that I’m speaking of was not handed down by a gaggle of politicians.
    Clearly the discussion has moved beyond simply barring players from induction based on PEDs. And no, I wasn’t being sarcastic. It seems so easy in this world to get stuck on the way things have been that we simply accept it as the norm. I go back to the Michael Jackson factor and ask once again, should a player be held accountable for their actions outside of the game that do not have a direct result on their play? Phil, the integrity that I speak of is that of a man on the field and how he engages in his profession. Keep it in the ring, okay?
    And how do we know if a player has cheated if they’re not caught? Mark, do you mind fielding this one for me?

  8. Matt - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:33 PM

    Ban them all, they cheated and do not deserve the honor of being in the hall of fame. What kind of message are we sending to our kids by letting them stay….

  9. Jeff - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:34 PM

    The ‘roider in the HoF is almost certainly Kirby Puckett. And, yes, he should be thrown out. He cheated. Whether MLB had a written rule or not is irrelevent. Steroids are ILLEGAL!!!! By deinfition, that means you are cheating if you use them.
    Puckett’s HR total:
    1st year – 0 HR in 583 AB
    2nd year – 4 HR in 691 AB
    3rd year – 31 HR
    And in nearly 1000 minor league ABs, he had a total of 13 HRs.

  10. Lance - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:35 PM

    Every since the steroid cheating started, I quit following pro sports. (All of them.) There is no standard as soon as cheaters are allowed to play the game (cork bats, etc included), and are put in the HOF. These guys get to much pay for what they do. Those people who ought to get their equivelent in pay are those who change lives for the positive and or save lives. Something wrong with society to allow any cheaters to be HOF.

  11. Divinemsm - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:36 PM

    Throw every one of them out of the Hall of Fame, strip the ones that are in the Hall of their award, and DO NOT VOTE ANY OTHER DRUG USERS INTO THE HALL OF FAME. THEY ARE NOTHING BUT CHEATERS!!!!!!!!!!!! Re-assert and Acknowledge in the Hall of Fame that Roger Maris is the Baseball King of Home Runs!

  12. Phil - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    The American League in 1961 played a 162-game season. Maris hit 59 HRs in the first 154 games (the length of Ruth’s season) and only broke the record in the 162nd game with a HR off Tracy Stallard. Mark McGwire hit 70 HRs in a 162-game season. Three years later Barry Bonds hit 73 HRs in a season of the same length.
    McGwire tied Maris on 7 September in the 144th game of the season. He broke it, as you say the next day in Game 145. That’s 18 fewer games to equal Maris’ record. Not sure where you got your math.

  13. Bruce L - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:41 PM

    It is very interesting reading the various responses. Of all of the comments no one has defined how we would determine who cheated and didn’t cheat. Every era has had some form of “cheating”, be it doctored balls, greenies, alcohol, tobacco, steroids, or other elements that we are and have not been aware of. None of the forementioned items were against baseball rules at the time except for doctored baseballs, so were they really cheating? Pete Rose bet on baseball, did he cheat?, did he ever throw a game?
    The simple truth is that baseball as a whole knew something was going on, they reveled in th excitement generated by the homerun and the races generated by the homerun hitter. They condoned the actions and the writers voting on the players did too. They pumped the players and the game up and now they want to act like their hands are not dirty.
    As foe the fans you knew something was up, but you followed blindly. If a fan is fed up with the big business of all sports the easiest thing to do is not support sports. You the fan are paying the outrageous salaries by going to the games, buying the merchandise, and supporting want is going on. There are no athletes worth the kind of money they are getting paid, so do somehing about what you can controll. As far as the palyers taking any advantage they can, it has gone on for ever and will continue to do so if it means they look better and people will swoon over them.

  14. SAM - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:41 PM


  15. Tom - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:42 PM

    Why do people talk about Pete Rose every time someone mentions the HOF? Pete signed a lifetime banishment. It’s his own fault for betting on his game and then signing the lifetime ban, so let’s move on. Nobody is to be removed from the HOF that is already in it. I do believe that people feel cheated, so people like McGwire and others will not get in because they have done PED’s. Personally, I don’t think the HOF is that big of a deal, so why get worked up about it? It’s nice to visit Cooperstown, but who really cares if your favorite player gets his face on the wall or not? Give me a break.

  16. Roger - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    The problem I have with letting steroid users into a hall of fame is that it gives some legitimacy to using. And what kind of message does that send to kids? If a league has a policy against using then that league must consider it a form of cheating. If you can use/cheat and not get caught then it must be ok.
    And remember what happened to Lyle Alzado. His example should not be lost.

  17. E. Fitzer - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:44 PM

    The fact that merely good (not great) players like Don Sutton and Bill Mazerowski got in and the top (by a large margin) NL 3B from the 1960s, Ron Santo, didn’t taints the Hall of Fame already, so it just becomes political, so why are people complaining about the injustice of letting in steroid users? The rule should be how did players compare to their peers? If their peers were juicing just like they were and they were better, well, connect the dots. Maybe take away their records, which are clearly suspect, but if you’re the best player in the game, you’re the best player in the game. And, with a few exceptions (e.g. Greg Maddux, Andre Dawson, Frank Thomas, Ichiro), it seems that the best players in the 1990s-early 2000s all used steroids, so do you wipe out a generation of players from Hall eligibility or do you just grin and bear it?

  18. Tom - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:46 PM

    Absolutely should be removed!!!!!!!!!
    And McGuire should be stripped of his Home Run title

  19. Charles Gates - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:49 PM

    If you’re relying on HOF voters to send proper messages to your kids, then you’re not doing a good job as a parent.

  20. Jorge - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:50 PM

    I think that if it is proven that a player was using steroids, all stats the player earned during the time period in which he was found to be using should be void. For example, since Mark McGwire just said he was using steroids during his record breaking year, all of those homeruns, hits…etc., should be removed from his stats. Now if he is qualified to be in the Hall of Fame he should be, but if stats that were obtained while using steroids are what put them there, they should not be allowed in.

  21. jim - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:51 PM

    it has been know for a long time now. that drugs whatever you call them is,hasn’t,will,won’t be used. then what is the problem? they don’t belong in the hall or anywhere that compliments there records.
    but will we, the fans kick them out! if they could be, i don’t think so. because they themselvs really don’t care. leave it up to the fans weather they stay or go and watch what happens.
    p.s. this goes for any and all sports.

  22. Jorge - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    Those types of ‘sins’ are irrelevant to the sports. Cheating on one’s wife has nothing to do with how well he plays a sport… I am not saying there are right for doing what they do, but it has no weight on how they perform on the field…

  23. Dominic - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:52 PM

    To those who say ban them all… shame on you for having such a blanket opinion of something you have no intimate knowledge of. “It’s Cheating!” quips the judgemental… “Cheating is Bad!” they continue to generalize… “They must be bad too!” Call them purist, call them old schoolers… I call them inflammatory chicken littles. Few are commenting how coaches, team owners, MLB officials and PED manufacturers themselves have created this issue on their own. Just as in other sports, what is considered a PED/steroid changes annually (monthly in some cases). 20 years ago, few if any of the substances being taken en masse today, would have disqualified a player from a game. When I was in school, we were taught that steroids were hormonal chemicals that altered a body’s metabolism, caused “roid rage” and built abnormal levels of muscle quickly, also they were primarily injected… now on that list are moisture retention meds, electrolyte modifiers… and come in forms ranging form pills and sports drinks to drink-mix powders. I will not say I approve of PED’s in sports, for, as their name implies… they enhance performance… however, to chastise past players for drinking something that in many cases, was introduced by the organization now punishing them, is nothing short of hypocritical nonsense. This is supposed to be a game: Play it, Watch it, Enjoy it

  24. Dave - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:53 PM

    Alright, I concede. Allow the cheaters. I just have two words for you: the asterisk. A nice big asterisk at the end of all past, present, and future HoF inductee’s names found to be guilty of cheating in a way that had a direct effect on their abilities in the game. Now everybody wins! Who wants a beer?

  25. Gerrald - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Athletes and their antics have always gotten a pass from our society. You have to do something really horrible to turn people against you, along the lines of murder or violently torturing animals. As long as we have this mentality, the right or wrong of cheating is a non-issue, as there’s little to no integrity to be found in professional sports.
    I always find it fun to think that there’s some poor kid who could have cured cancer working at a McDonald’s somewhere because some misanthrope like Michael Vick wasted scholarship and government aid money to play a GAME.

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