Former Cincinnati Reds star Barry Larkin arrives on stage for his induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Sunday, July 22 in Cooperstown, N.Y. (Associated Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, July 29, 2012 9:06 PM
Last week, the baseball world celebrated as a select few were added to the hallowed walls of the Hall of Fame.
Barry Larkin was hailed as the biggest name to get in, a champion who was celebrated for playing clean during the tainted years of the steroid era.
Or so it is believed.
There is no proof Larkin ever took steroids. But also, there is little proof he didn’t.
While his reputation should remain squeaky clean, you do at least have to wonder who did and who didn’t take what to enhance their numbers and bank accounts during that period..
Every player, whether you like him or not, is at least poisoned by the question. One bad apple may not spoil the whole bunch, but a batch of bad apples can stink up the joint for everybody.
As for the answer to the question of who was and wasn’t clean. We will never know.
Players like Rafael Palmeiro can one day be wagging his finger at Congress and telling members he never took steroids and the next be testing positive.
So here we are, a few years after the steroid era, and we still have no idea who did and who did not play better baseball with the help of science.
At least in the case of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds, we know. Both have admitted to taking something, though what and how much we are still not sure. In Bonds’ case, it was some type of cream.
For now, it is unlikely either Bonds or McGwire will one day be honored like Larkin. The baseball writers who make this decision are against such a reward for “cheating” the game.
Wonder just how many of them would be able to stand up to a formal review of their vices.
Fact is, it’s likely the writers have already put in a player or two who has at least dabbled in the chemical side of the game. I don’t believe the Hall is made up of the greatest moral men in history. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is not.
Truth is, we will never know who took what and when. We are only guessing unless the players admit to it.
So, we should reward those players who accomplished great things in the game. The republic will not crumble if McGwire, Sosa and Bonds were to one day have their busts in Cooperstown. We just need to mention in their bio that they are believed to have taken part in the steroid games.
McGwire and Sosa especially should be thanked for helping to save the game back during their home run race of 1998. Nobody was worried back then what they were taking, we were all just caught up in the excitement.
And so what if a few numbers are elevated. Give more credit to those players who you believe are clean. That way, if we find out later a player already in the Hall was a user, all we have to do is move his name over to the hit list. No big deal. In 50 years, maybe even five, nobody is going to care.
Shoeless Joe Jackson isn’t in the Hall of Fame because of gambling, but yet twice long after his death he has become a major part of movies. That’s a pretty good legacy for a guy not moral enough for baseball’s precious Hall.
Football seems to get this right. O.J. Simpson is still in its Hall of Fame and I believe his record is a little more tainted than that of McGwire, Sosa and Bonds. Maybe even Roger Clemens.
They just added a portion to his bio on his post-football woes.
And while we are at it, can somebody put Pete Rose in the Hall? There is no proof he ever gambled while playing so you can’t just wipe out his hit record.
Oh wait, maybe you can. The NCAA did it to Joe Paterno when it comes to coaching victories. So, I guess you can rewrite history.
Here’s hoping the baseball writers change their history and start looking at the numbers.
Journalists, even the sports guys, should tell the entire story and let the people decide.
Jim Gazzolo is American Press managing sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org