I'm including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on my ballot since there should be room in Cooperstown for baseball's best player and best pitcher over the past 20 years, despite their association with PEDs. To me, Bonds was Hall of Fame worthy in the mid-1990s, around the time Clemens also earned his Hall pass.
And I'm officially conflicted on Sosa. Despite his Hall-worthy numbers, it feels especially slimy to put a check mark next to his name -- which I'll probably do. He did wonders for the game, and for its fans, at a time when it was desperately needed. In the end, that may be what trumps his precipitous fall from grace.
I don't like to use my Hall of Fame vote as a means for punishment. I'll leave it to MLB, advertising companies and the federal government to impose their forms of sanctions on players suspected of PED usage. After all, if baseball approves of the numbers compiled by these guys, why shouldn't I? By voting for them, I'm not condoning their actions. I'm just saying they belong among baseball's all-time elite. And isn't that what the Hall of Fame is about?
Sure, along with assessing a player's statistics, Hall voters have always been told to consider criteria such as "integrity,' "sportsmanship" and "character." And yet, Ty Cobb's plaque is in Cooperstown. As it should be.
We know of Cobb's transgressions, because they were so public. But how much do we really know about any of these guys? To that point, I was an MLB batboy 30 years ago and personally saw two guys who are now in the Hall of Fame stretch the boundaries of character and integrity. Without giving away names, one guy traveled with a corked bat and the other, a guy seemingly above reproach, engaged in incidents in the locker room during games that had no business in the game. And neither of these guys ever faced questions about it.