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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. Sandy - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:55 PM

    When Babe Ruth was drinking – alcohol was illegal.
    When Hank Aaron (and Maris) were hitting HRs, greenies were illegal, (but freely available in MLB clubhouses).
    Adultery IS illegal in some jurisdictions. (Just a law that is not normally enforced outside of the military).
    MLB’s only “punishment” for illegal drug use (of any kind), prior to 2004 was — mandatory drug rehab.
    I just wonder how many of those pounding desks with their shoes in righteous indignation about steroid use also have had a beer, gotten into a car, driven 5+ mph over the speed limit, and their own children have seen them do these things. Maybe if parents today were spending more attention to what examples THEY are setting for their children, and not expecting MLB to do it for them, the next generation of athletes might not be so ready and willing to cheat “because everyone else is, anyway.”

  2. razorback - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:56 PM

    If the roiders are in – so is everybody especially Shoeless Joe. That includes Rose, etc. One known cheater in – all in.

  3. Dave - Jan 13, 2010 at 2:59 PM

    My friend, you play down the significance of the matter far too much. All involved parties should be held accountable, but let us not shy away from the choices that the players made. It’s like, in the world of narcotics, who do you accuse: the dealer or the user? Both! They both made the choice to participate in this little symphony. I’m not talking about some after-school message of just say no. I’m talking about accountability. But your point is well received.

  4. MN Mike - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    I totally agree with Gossage. You have to have some sort of punishment for these players. At this point the gain of using steroids far out grows the risks. Look at A-Rod. he got nailed for steroids, but what happended? He still has the huge contract that he got becasue of his past steroid performances. Taking steroids is worth it as long as you don’t get caught until after your first big contract.
    If a player really wants to make it to the hall of fame, then they should know that they cannot take steroids.

  5. Phil - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    Were the moral standards ever as high as you think they were? The 1890s were rife with on-field cheating, yet players from that era are in the Hall. Ty Cobb nearly beat a man to death – a disabled man no less – for heckling him during a game and his racist views were well known. Numerous inductees who played between 1919 and 1933 repeatedly broke Federal law and violated the Volstead Act. Sure, it was a stupid law but it was the law and those who broke are criminals.
    Drugs of all types have been used through out the game’s history – amphetamines, LSD, cocaine, marijuana – and all were illegal at the time. Players have been arrested and convicted for assault – domestic and otherwise.
    Phil, the integrity that I speak of is that of a man on the field and how he engages in his profession.
    How can you invoke a moral and ethical code and restrict it by the foul lines? And even if you restrict it to on-field behavior, you are still left with those who doctor the baseball, cork their bats, play under the influence of amphetamines, LSD and other drugs, play under the influence of alcohol. All of these transgressions predate the so-called Steroid Era. Where are you drawing the line?
    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.
    I’m not trying to be obstreperous, but how do you know what the moral and ethical codes of the world of baseball fans are? Why would you assume that they are the same for all of us? You can’t even assume you and I share the same standards. Your goal is noble. But – and please don’t take offense for I mean none – it is also naïve.
    Finally, what about those who do not confess? You’re statement was a blanket one – all those who cheat must be expunged whether caught in the act or not. If they don’t get caught and elect not to confess, how will you know? And if you are only going to expel those who either get caught or confess, won’t you still wind up electing a user to the Hall eventually?

  6. J - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Easy decision, really. Any hall of famer that used ANY performance enhancer that was banned during THEIR playing career should be kicked out. If it wasn’t banned at the time they played, footnote the usage of performance enhancers in their record.

  7. aj - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Absolutely, ban them for life. The Olympics don’t allow them and neither should the pros.

  8. ROID - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    Would that be like someone caught cheating on a test, but just penalized for the answers they didn’t know. Or would that be like someone playing cards, pulling aces from up their sleeves, and allowed to continue if they get rid of the aces. I don’t understand this thinking. Generally speaking, when people get caught cheating they have to pay the price. Students get kicked out of school for cheating, gamblers get shot for cheating, boxers get their licenses pulled for cheating, embezelers go to jail for cheating. These ballplayers didn’t cheat once or twice or many times. They cheated hundreds of times, some from High School through the end of their careers. And they didn’t just use steroids and human growth hormones, they used every drug known to man to improve their performance, legal or not.

  9. Bobby Vela - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    If we are not allowing roiders (cheaters) into the Hall of Fame, this means we need to remove the cheaters that are in the Hall of Fame already.

  10. RVela - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:11 PM

    If we are not allowing roiders (cheaters) into the Hall of Fame, this means we need to remove the cheaters that are in the Hall of Fame already.

  11. jed - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:12 PM

    If pete rose can be held out of baseball for betting ,then you damm right kick out the roids and users…………….

  12. jimbo719 - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    Yeah but the babe’s collection of corked bats did!

  13. bill - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:14 PM

    One of the tell tale signs of steroid use is the increase of body size. Has anyone seen pictures of young skinny Cal Ripken? Just a thought. He sure remained healthy until he broke the record. I recall that it wasn’t too long after he went on the dl.

  14. Packer_SanDiego - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:15 PM

    Was it even cheating? If baseball inherently knew there was a problem but refused to do anything about it by testing and/or punishing those who were using steroids, how is it cheating? Yes, it was illegal, but that’s not the same as cheating.
    Also, for the voters to act all high and mighty about the “integrity” of the Hall of Fame and to act as if they didn’t know something funny was going on when heads were growing 3 cap sizes is the ultimate in hypocrisy. They were more than happy to cover the absurd home run races but now they’re trying to cover their own azzes.
    Either they don’t want to admit to knowing what was going on or they want to cover up the fact that they were played for fools. Fools who didn’t do their job by digging deeper to discover why all of a sudden balls were flying out of the park in unprecedented fashion…anyone remember how they covered ball construction (the ball is wound tighter, the cover is harder, blah blah) to figure out why home runs were being hit?
    Does anything seem MORE absurd than how the writers either (a) let it happen or (b) didn’t do their jobs by uncovering the problem (you can’t tell me that players weren’t leaking the steroid issue to reporters)? And now the voters and baseball “purists” want to keep these guys out of the Hall even though all involved were equally responsible for this travesty.

  15. Larry - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:17 PM

    To me baseball is nothing more than a bunch of over paid dope addicts!!!! I do not waste my time watching baseball any more. It’s a shame but there is no one to look up to anymore.

  16. DavidP - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:19 PM

    This is one of the dumbest arguments. Too many people are trying to rationalize cheating.
    Cheating is cheating.
    If you have to cheat to get somewhere, you don’t deserve to be there. McGuire doesn’t deserve his records or to be in the hall of fame.
    Furthermore, Bud Selig should be banned from baseball. He’s worse for baseball than steroids.

  17. jwb - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:22 PM

    Babe Ruth is known to have injected himself with sheep testosterone. If you want to remove steroid users from the Hall of Fame, the line starts there.

  18. Packer_SanDiego - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    I agree that cheating is cheating. But, unless you ban the entire era from records and/or entry into the Hall, the fact is that baseball itself made it’s bed and should have to lie in it. To say on one hand we looked the other way while it was bringing interest back to the game, but on the other hand we’re going to punish SOME of those involved simply doesn’t make sense.
    But, like others have said, I stopped watching baseball years ago. When Big Head Bonds is breaking the most cherished record in sports because of cheating and only 5 or 6 teams are realistic contenders each year, what’s the point?

  19. Tom S - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    I dont think any player known to have used performace enhancers should be elected to the Fall of Fame while theyr’e alive! Take Roger Clemens before he left Boston ( and wasnt using), he was an overweight, washed up .500 pitcher the previous 4 years. His later accomplishments while using steroids we as a result of that! 3-4 more Cy Youngs , MANY more wins. Those latter numbers were bogus. The shame is that Clemens was a sure fire HOFer before he used!
    That’s just how I feel!!

  20. ken - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:30 PM

    Reply to all who claim to care about baseball:
    Where were all you holy-rollers when baseball was almost dead and when Sammy and Mark saved the game by filling the parks and hitting the cover off the baseballs? Were the lines so clear as to right and wrong that everyone who transgressed were automatically excluded from the hall? I personally do not agree with these now suddenly righteous sportswriters who keep the attack perked on anti-steroids, and I personally do not agree with their use. But, I do know that without Sammy and Mark going head to head in that fantastic 70-Home-Run season, that baseball as we know it would be dead. So get a life, and allow the lines to be blurred and acknowlege the facts as they are and put these fellas where they belong in the hall alongside the other greats.

  21. onepatriot - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:32 PM


  22. Franklin Cain - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:33 PM

    Every generation has had an advantage over the previous one. Better equipment, better training methods, technological advances, better nutrition, rules changes, smaller more uniform ballparks, larger stronger players, etc, etc. That being said, you have to have superior eye-hand coordination and god given talents to do what the truly great hitters do. For Barry Bonds to see only 3-4 truly good pitches per game, all coming in at 90 mph and faster from 1-4 different pitchers and still be able to do what he did, is phenomenal. If steroids were the magic panacea most people think, everybody from 1995 to 2003 would have been hitting over .300 and hitting 50+homeruns, because most used something, trust me. Steroids and Gh and all the other enhancement drugs helped the truly great to train harder and recover quicker adding muscle, but muscle and size cannot help you to hit a 95mph fastball consistently!

  23. Paul in KY - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM

    Jesus, they CHEATED (blatently) & you’re OK with putting them in the Hall. Being in HOF is a privilige, not a right.

  24. crabby - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    One, word – ABSOLUTELY

  25. dean-wormer - Jan 13, 2010 at 3:39 PM

    and where does this leave guys who had strong careers in that era but were “punished” by the inflated comparisons of the roid users?
    guy like Jack Morris, winningest pitcher in his decade, but overall, inflated ERA. Completed a third of the games he started. Got World Series Championships, too, but no serious consideration cause of that ERA. but if the guys hitting were cheating and that made them better, then Morris is clearly harmed…..
    seems to me unless they used when it was clearly against the rules, you kinda’ gotta’ let them stand for consideration, and compare them against the others in their era.
    and what about guys like Fergie Jenkins? Arrested with coke and hash – do those enhance performance? He went in the hall his 3rd year eligible.

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