With the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game quickly approaching, the time to select this year’s Hall of Fame inductees is upon us. Selected by the Baseball Writers Association of America, each inductee must receive at least 75 percent of the votes to get in.
This year, big names like Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were the only players who received enough votes to make it into Cooperstown. This was each inductee’s first year on the ballot.
More interesting than who got voted in was who didn’t. One time household names such as Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa didn’t even receive half of the votes needed to make it in.
Growing up in the steroid era, I was able to witness multiple decade-old records get annihilated season after season. I remember watching TV programs in late August and having them interrupted every time Bonds, Sosa or McGwire had the chance to break the record.
First it was McGwire and Sosa battling for the home run record, and shortly after I remember watching Bonds shatter McGwire’s mark by blasting balls into the San Francisco Bay. Maybe it was my youthful naivety, but watching those at-bats were some of my fondest memories of baseball.
And then the steroid scandal rocked Major League Baseball. Rather than ESPN coverage of athletic performances, they were busy covering star athletes testifying in front of congressional committees. This forever tainted the baseball generation I grew up with.
What is truly sad is that back in the steroid days, it seemed like every stadium was packed to the brim with people dying to see future record-setters. I personally remember being at a Mariners game in the Kingdome and watching Mark McGwire blast a 538-foot upper decker off of Randy Johnson.
Now it seems like there are more empty seats than rabid crowds at games all around the country. The home runs don’t seem to go as far and there are a lot less of them.
This begs the question, was the beginning of the steroid era the end for America’s pastime? Personally, I don’t believe it was the end. I do, however, believe that it’s going to take a while before baseball gets back to what it was before the steroid crackdown.
We’re seeing it every year during Hall of Fame voting time. Every time a player associated with steroids is up for induction and they don’t get in, it’s a sign that baseball is still reeling from the impact left by performance-enhancing drugs.
I am very interested to see what happens over the next decade or so with regards to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Will a steroid-linked player ever be voted in? Will they continue to place these players on the ballot year after year, even if they never make it in? I think that once we see the results of questions like these, we will finally understand the true depth of the pain caused to America’s pastime by PEDs.