We are going to explore two sides of an argument. The issue is whether professional baseball players who have been alleged or proven to have cheated in any form should be voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame®. On one hand, we have the purists who want to keep to the game’s traditions and to allow for only those who played the game the right way. On the other hand, we have those who believe in a process that is open and tells the history and context of a player cheating, the asterisk crowd, but still allows them into the Hall.

In this article, we are going to present the arguments for you to decide, the American voter. We are going to present the best three arguments from each side and this author will stand in their shoes to present the best facts to back up those arguments. It should be an educational experience nonetheless.

To Not Be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame®

1. No Excuses: Clean is Clean

Much like Clayton Kershaw’s “All Me” League that promotes eating right and playing fair, the message is clear; a player is either clean or dirty. If the player is dirty or suspected of such, he has no place in the Hall of Fame with the likes of Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Hank Aaron, whom did not have access to performance-enhancing drugs to prolong or help their playing careers. Hot dogs and beer or kale with a spinach drink, no more, no less.

2. Character Matters

“Shoeless” Joe Jackson received a lifetime ban for his involvement with the 1919 Black Sox Scandal that rocked baseball. He should have never been tied to the payouts and much like the steroid-users that followed in a later generation, the decision to cheat is fatal and unforgivable. The Hall of Fame is about the whole package: the player must play exceptionally well on and off the field.

3. The Hall of Fame Should Set an Example for Generations to Come

Baseball players are heroes to many and they should lead by example. A slippery slope occurs once Pandora ’s Box is opened and the line in the sand is crossed. Those baseball players who did not cheat set the right example, and they should be rewarded for their efforts by being elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame®.

To Be in the National Baseball Hall of Fame®

1. It Happened: History is History

A history professor at a junior college once assigned a paper topic: what would have happened if President Abraham Lincoln served his second term? An interesting thought, but also an attempt at revisionist history because President Lincoln was assassinated at the beginning of his second term. We cannot forget history simply because it is inconvenient, we must recognize it, learn from it, and give thought to our failures, and our accomplishments.

2. Context Matters

First, despite being alleged to have received a bribe to throw the 1919 World Series with seven other teammates against the Cincinnati Reds, “Shoeless” Joe Jackson collected twelve base hits (a World Series record that was not broken until 1964), led both teams with a .375 batting average, committed no errors, and threw out a runner at the plate. Second, Barry Bonds, “in the 14 seasons between 1986 and 1999 Bonds established himself, without question, as a Hall of Fame player – an eight-time All-Star who led the National League in walks five times, OBP four times, and slugging three times[;] He was a three-time MVP before he hooked up with Balco.” Third, Roger Clemens, before his alleged steroid use (he never admitted steroid use or failed a drug test), “Clemens was one of only five three-time Cy Young winners — along with Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver. Of those, only Koufax [and now Clayton Kershaw] could match Clemens with one MVP Award to go along with his three Cy Youngs.”

3. The Hall of Fame Should Set an Example: People and Times Change

Forgiveness and second chances are at the foundation of the American legal system, culture, and social well-being. We have fought many wars and many have sacrificed their lives to establish and reestablish a country that was founded on the concepts of innocent until proven guilty, rehabilitation, and belief in the ability to do well. He who is without sin should throw the first stone and vote to keep history out of the National Baseball Hall of Fame®.

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Those on each side of the issue have compelling arguments. Then again, much like our national presidential elections, it is those in the middle of the country, both politically and geographically, that decide these issues. As of 2017, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens jumped from the mid-to-low thirties in percentage votes to the low-to-mid fifties in percentage votes. As Bob Dylan once sang, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

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About The Author

Editorial Writer
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Jeremy M. Evans is the Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing sports, entertainment, and business professionals in their contract, negotiation, and intellectual property matters. Evans is an Outreach Captain for the Sports Lawyers Association and is an award-winning attorney and community leader. He can be reached at [email protected] or via his website: www.CSLlegal.com.

8 Responses

  1. Kurt

    1st off the question is mute you have already set the example that not following the rules or laws is okay. I bring to your attention, Orlando Cepeda convicted of drug trafficking and even served time for the crime, is in the Hall of Fame. What kind of message does this send to our children, even the great Willie Mays was threatened with being removed from the Hall of Fame because he was working as a greeter at a casino in Vegas. People that are accused and never proven to have used enhancements or of taken money to throw games should be allowed in the hall, we are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty!

    Reply
  2. William Schultz

    I’m 75 years old and have loved baseball since I saw my first game ( White Sox-
    Yankees) at 9 Born raised in Chicago My heroes were baseball players Maybe some day the likes of Bonds and Clemens will get in the Hall, but, I don’t feel they have any right to be include with the likes of Aaron, Mays, Clemente, Koufax, Carlton and so many others. Should we give scholastic awards to people who cheat on exams ? Cheaters are cheaters Many of them had the skills to be top performers, yet, cheated to achieve their goals. Not a good lesson for our children or grand children In my opinion they tarnished the game I love.

    Reply
  3. Michael Norris

    Well Bonds should not be in the hall of fame period. Great as he was before he started using the Cream, he felt he needed to be like McGuire and Sosa. He did things at an age when 99 % of players are slowing way down. He cheated pure and simple.

    Reply
  4. russ olson

    try to keep short what they did playing dirty is a slap in the face of those who didn’t. how can they face Aaron and Mays and say they were better; or want to be in hall with them as there equal? give them a separate hall that’s what they deserve at best! sadly bonds and Clemens at least for 2 had hall of fame careers without so why waste what they had? lastly you let them in and keep rose out ? rose bet on his team but I have hard time believing he ever bet on them to loose.

    Reply
  5. Phil Liddell

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. In response to “To Be in the Hall of Fame” Item 1: Right now, today, we are living in a revisionist society. Take for example, the rewriting of American history by the removal of the Confederate flag and many monuments/statues of past civil war personalities. Do we really want to ignore a part of our history because a small number of PC people today are “offended” by what they deem inappropriate behavior? History is who we are, be it good or be it bad. This is how we rewrite history by eliminating what we choose, nevermind what the vast majority of Americans want.
    2. In response to “To Be in the Hall of Fame” Item 3: If we want to give everyone a second or third or fourth chance, we’ll need to go back in the MLB history books and decide who needs to be reconsidered for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose for example? Talk about opening Pandora’s box…good grief. And since none of us are “without sin” it reasons that everybody should be included in the Hall of Fame. After all, today everyone gets a trophy simply for participating in any activity or event.

    These are all pathetic arguments for allowing cheaters, less than honest players, and the like into the coveted MLB Hall of Fame…but heck, water it down if you want, we’re a society of inclusion of any and all regardless of ethics, conduct, corruption, cheating, etc.

    And finally, here’s something to consider: since just about every player past and present, has “stolen” a base, by the very definition of “stolen”, no one should be allowed in the Hall of Fame…unless of course we’re going to give everyone a second or third chance. Do you see how muddy it all gets when we open Pandora’s box?

    Reply
  6. Tom Wallis

    Cheaters should be kept out period. Guys like Bonds, who had so much body armour, he crowded the plate, thus exstending the “heart” of the plate and was not afraid to get hit by the inside pitch and he was roided to boot. Keep them all out!

    Reply
  7. Phil Liddell

    A couple of thoughts:
    1. In response to “To Be in the Hall of Fame” Item 1: Right now, today, we are living in a revisionist society. Take for example, the rewriting of American history by the removal of the Confederate flag and many monuments/statues of past civil war personalities. Do we really want to ignore a part of our history because a small number of PC people today are “offended” by what they deem inappropriate behavior? History is who we are, be it good or be it bad. This is how we rewrite history by eliminating what we choose, nevermind what the vast majority of Americans want.
    2. In response to “To Be in the Hall of Fame” Item 3: If we want to give everyone a second or third or fourth chance, we’ll need to go back in the MLB history books and decide who needs to be reconsidered for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Pete Rose for example? Talk about opening Pandora’s box…good grief. And since none of us are “without sin” it reasons that everybody should be included in the Hall of Fame. After all, today everyone gets a trophy simply for participating in any activity or event.

    These are all pathetic arguments for allowing cheaters, less than honest players, and the like into the coveted MLB Hall of Fame…but heck, water it down if you want, we’re a society of inclusion of any and all regardless of ethics, conduct, corruption, cheating, etc.

    And finally, here’s something to consider: since just about every player past and present, has “stolen” a base, by the very definition of “stolen”, no one should be allowed in the Hall of Fame…unless of course we’re going to give everyone a second or third chance. Do you see how muddy it all gets when we open Pandora’s box?

    Reply

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