After the strike in 1994 that cancelled the World Series, baseball was saved on the backs of superstars. Players like Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa were the best players in the league. These were the guys that even the casual fan knew about, especially after the great home run race between Sosa and McGwire in 1998 that saw Roger Maris’s single-season home run record of 61 broken (McGwire 70, Sosa 66).
After Jose Canseco exposed the steroid problem in baseball with his book “Juiced”, the popularity of these players quickly diminished.
Now five years after Clemens and Bonds retired, they’re up for induction to the prestigious National Baseball Hall Of Fame in Cooperstown. Just looking at their numbers they deserve to be in. But with the steroid allegations, some voters are hesitant to vote for them on the ballot.
Other players, like Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio, who have never been caught using steroids or any other PED, have some people suspicious just because of the era in which they played.
What the writers who vote on the Hall of Fame have to understand, is that it wasn’t only the good players were on PEDs. Players like Jeremy Giambi and Gregg Zaun who never had great careers, were named by the Mitchell Report. Many other subpar players were caught as well. This shows that not only good players took steroids, almost everyone did and if you didn’t take them, you truly were behind the competition.
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In both cases, the assumption was that they started using steroids in 1998. But before, they’d both had great numbers. Bonds had 314 home runs before and hit .288 with a .551 slugging percentage. Clemens had a career ERA of 2.97 with 213 wins. You also have to assume they would have aged normally and had decent numbers through the final years of their careers. Either way both had already had great careers and you could make the argument that they could be borderline Hall of Famers even before steroids.
If it were up to me both players would go into the Hall of Fame. They both had great careers with or without steroids and there are also a few others in the Hall, like Bill Mazeroski, who in my opinion don’t deserve to be there no matter how you look at the numbers.
However, on the plaques of all players who go in from the “steroid era” I would make note that they were suspected to be on steroids or have a separate “steroid wing” of the Hall of Fame, completely separate from the rest and put Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa in that part. This would be a fair way of showing that although these players had Hall of Fame worthy careers they might have had help from PEDs along the way.