Pete Rose will never be in the Hall of Fame. Why? He was banned for life because he broke Major League Baseball rules by betting on the game. Whether or not he should be is a different story but breaking the rules has consequences. Not only did Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens break the rules, but they did it in a way that was cheating.
There are many different characters in the Hall of Fame, ranging from people who showed tremendous courage, such as Jackie Robinson, to people who tried to stand in the way of unity and inclusion, like Tom Yawkey. While we cannot forget the checkered history of baseball’s past, we can strive to improve it in the future, by not rewarding players who used steroids.
Bonds and Clemens are inching closer and closer to being elected into the Hall of Fame and while most signs point that they will not be elected when the votes are announced tonight, it could happen in the future. You can’t separate the player from their actions. How can you examine stats of player’s career without taking into account that they are false or that the numbers have been padded with steroids. Barry Bond’s homerun record has no meaning when many of them were hit while he was on steroids. Roger Clemens ability to through strikeouts has the same connotation. To me, it’s not possible to differentiate between the players they were before and they players they were during steroids. In order for baseball to move on from the steroid error, it must show that what was going on was unacceptable.
Right now the United States is having the same identify crisis as baseball. How do you not glorify the monstrosities and mistakes of the past while at the same time not erasing them? While I can’t say I know what to do with every statue the represents the Civil War, I do know what baseball should do. At Cooperstown there are two different parts to the Hall of Fame. There is the museum that walks you through history of baseball from the time of the Knickerbockers to today. Then there is the plaque room, where those who have made it into the Hall are shown.
Going forward baseball should not honor people who have hurt the integrity of the game. Include the steroid error in the museum with Bonds and Clemens, as they have done with Rose but leave the Hall for those who have done the game proud. And for those people already elected into the Hall who do not meet the standards baseball should hold itself up to today, but a disclaimer next to their plaque describing the ways they have been dishonest to the integrity of baseball (I’m looking at you Tom Yawkey).
And as for Curt Schilling, he may not have used steroids but his character certainly doesn’t deserve to be along side Jackie Robinson.