McDonnell: A Hall of Fame quandary

From SABR member Wayne McDonnell Jr. at on January 4, 2013:

The steroids epidemic that had polluted the game of baseball for nearly two decades is rearing its ugly head once again. Due to Major League Baseball’s initial reluctance to expeditiously address an issue of grave importance regarding performance enhancing substances, baseball writers have unwillingly become a moral compass for the sport while also protecting the integrity of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Instead of evaluating the meritorious careers of the candidates on the ballot by thoroughly studying their statistical achievements and contributions, the Baseball Writers Association of America is now wrestling with the moral conundrum of sifting through a laundry list of confirmed, accused or rumored cheaters by using the subjective criteria of sportsmanship, integrity and character.

Of the 37 candidates on the 2013 ballot, four appear in the Mitchell Report for either possible or confirmed performance enhancing substance abuse while another four have been constantly dogged by suspicions and unproven allegations. The eight candidates in question have all accumulated prolific statistics and distinctions of honor that would have made enshrinement in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown a mere formality under normal circumstances. However, men and women who have spent their professional careers covering the game are now required to become bastions of integrity to determine whose accomplishments were either genuine or artificial. As the natural abilities versus pharmaceutical enhancements argument divide the voters, another dilemma has regrettably caused differences of opinion amongst the baseball writers as well.

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Originally published: January 5, 2013. Last Updated: January 5, 2013.