I’d like to give a standing ovation and a tip of the hat to The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) for their decision to NOT elect Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or Sammy Sosa to The Baseball Hall of Fame. In barring entry to the three most overt steroid users of their generation, the writers sent a strong message to current players and, more importantly, our nation’s kids, that cheating will no longer be rewarded.
Coming on the heels of the professional cyclists cycling governing body (the International Cycling Union) stripping Lance Armstrong of his multiple Tour de France titles, we now have two instances of leaders leading by example (a rare commodity indeed in these troubled times). I believe Major League Baseball’s image and reputation will improve dramatically as a direct result of the Bonds/Clemens/Sosa snub.
And, yet, The New York Times has argued the BWAA is being disingenuous in banning the ‘roid heads. In a front page story last Wednesday, the Times cited Ty Cobb (a racist), Cap Anson (the man who originated the color barrier) and Grover Cleveland Alexander (an alcoholic) as just three examples of really bad guys who were elected to the Hall of Fame. The article also spotlights spitball specialist Gaylord Perry as another Hall of Famer who cheated for decades.
I agree the above-named players weren’t exemplary players. But, the Times is mixing apples and oranges. The old time bad boys didn’t inject artificial substances that enabled them to react more quickly to a 95 mph fastball or, as in the case of Clemens, add another mile or two to his already wickedly fast fastball. Steroid use and abuse enabled Bonds, Sosa and Clemens to post the numbers they did. And, those numbers are totally bogus. Cobb, Anson, Alexander and Perry may have done dishonorable things, but their numbers were legitimate (ditto for Pete Rose, BTW).
We need America’s pillars of society to draw a line in the sand and send a strong message to the rest of us. That’s why I argued in favor of The Biggest Loser in a recent post. We cannot rely on obese parents alone to prevent obesity in the next generation. And, we cannot rely on baseball players and cyclists to police themselves. That’s why the BWAA decision is so important. And, that’s why the National Football League has to step up to the plate (a mixed metaphor if I’ve ever heard one) and do something about the problem of player concussions, depression and suicides.
I’m glad Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were punished. Ditto for the Armstrong decision. Now, let’s see some more accountability around the horn. Batter up!