Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa committed similar indiscretions, and all will be sentenced, though surely not equally.
Bonds will be checked off on my ballot. He cheated and he was a difficult personality, but he was a terrific all-around player and the best hitter I've ever seen. He gets my vote because keeping him out seems naive and pointless.
Clemens will be checked off, too. There is evidence he cheated. He could be difficult. But he's the most decorated pitcher of all time. Not the best, but among the best.
Sosa, however, will not get my vote. His slugging was almost entirely a creation of chemicals. Beyond his impressive homer total, he was a poor overall player.
By Mark Purdy
I'm not voting for any of the steroid social club -- or whatever you want to call the group that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa -- until I have as complete a picture as possible of the Major League Baseball landscape during that time period.
Fortunately, the Hall of Fame voting process allows for us to be patient and wait for the full story. This isn't a one-time-only election. Candidates are eligible over a 15-year window. So just because I'm not voting for someone now, it doesn't mean I will never vote for him.
My decision not to vote for Bonds or Clemens or Sosa (or any other steroid-implicated players) has nothing to do with their personalities or the way they treated me on a professional basis. It's all about their performance for me.
Over the next 10 or 15 years, I expect to find greater clarity with my choice. But this time? I'm abstaining on all those guys, as I have in the past with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro and the rest of the steroid social club.
By Carl Steward
If baseball itself can't decide how to judge the players who dominated the steroid era, why are they dumping this heavy Hall of Fame issue in my lap? I'm not the commissioner. I'm not the president of the Hall of Fame. I'm just a baseball writer, not a Supreme Court judge.
I value my Hall of Fame vote, but this situation about which alleged steroid users are Cooperstown-worthy shouldn't be decided by me. So I'm passing the buck. I'm voting for all of the players I deem worthy candidates above and beyond their inflated statistics (which, according to Bud Selig, still count). Yes, that includes Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and others. If they get in, then the Hall of Fame can decide how to frame them for history.
The biggest mistake people make about the Hall of Fame, which I've visited many times, is that it is some sort of Valhalla. In truth, it is a museum, a repository of baseball history. And you can't have a reputable museum without telling the complete history, tainted as it may be during certain periods. This is why I believe Pete Rose also should be in the Hall of Fame.
By Bud Geracie
I will vote for Barry Bonds because he was worthy long before he and his numbers got comic-book huge. This line of reasoning has been slammed by many, and I respect that. But I'm not going to abide by it, in this case. Bonds had three MVPs before his transgressions, and his personality is the only thing that kept him from four in a row. His first season with the Giants, in 1993, was the single greatest season I've seen in the non-comic book era.
With Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens, I have the same problem I have with Mark McGwire. The numbers that made McGwire a candidate -- 70 home runs in a season and 583 for a career -- would not have happened without chemistry. I believe that to be true of Sosa as well. His best qualifications -- three 60-homer seasons and 609 overall -- don't happen without chemistry. He came into that "magical" 1998 season, a veteran of roughly eight full seasons, with 207 career homers.
Clemens is tougher. He was a star from the start. Won a Cy Young and an MVP at age 24, won another Cy the next year and then a third before he began to fade. When he left Boston, at age 34, he had 192 wins -- hardly a Hall of Fame number. Then he found the "fountain" of youth, won four more Cy Youngs, including one at 42 years old. I'm not buying it.
And I'm not voting for him. I'll have 14 years to reconsider, starting next year.
By Mike Lefkow
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens likely are the first two names I'll mark when I fill out my Hall of Fame ballot. Sammy Sosa is less of a slam dunk, but I probably will vote for him, too.
I can't judge what kind of numbers these players would have posted if they hadn't allegedly taken performance-enhancing drugs. I look at the numbers Bonds and Clemens posted early in their careers, and they were great players from the day they stepped on a major league diamond.
I'm not as sure about Sosa, but 609 lifetime homers is hard to deny. He twice led the National League in homers and RBIs, and three times he led the N.L. in runs scored. He was an MVP. I might do what I did with Rafael Palmeiro -- not vote for Sosa in his first year of eligibility but wait for the 2014 ballot.
I've always viewed the Hall of Fame as a museum, not a club for angels and saints. When I visit Cooperstown, I want to see all the best players. That includes Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, Palmeiro and Mark McGwire. Plus, these guys aren't criminals and they're not bad people. We're not even sure if they're guilty of what they have been accused.
So they will all get my votes -- McGwire and Palmeiro already have, Bonds and Clemens this year, Sosa next year if I decide to wait. And if these guys aren't eventually elected, taking a trip to Cooperstown will seem much less inviting.
By Jon Becker
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?