Yankees legends Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Gary Sheffield all missed induction into the Hall of Fame in FanSided’s survey.
Something tells me that you, the general public, likely had the same reaction as FanSided’s panel of experts to the 2021 Baseball Hall of Fame ballot: lots of arguing, very few results.
The Hall ballot has become the most controversial slog imaginable for those who’ve had the honor bestowed upon them by the institution…which certainly makes you wonder why anyone who has not been given such an honor would ever dive into these weeds voluntarily.
Totally get it!
But, as a fan of both baseball and discourse, I joined a panel this year to get to the bottom of the whole thing and at the end of the day, we elected all your favorite stars, like…no one!
Admittedly, I’m more liberal than your average baseball writer when it comes to inclusion in these hallowed halls. The “character clause,” often used as a bastardized argument to exclude steroid users, was originally intended by (racist) Commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis to import high-character guys instead of exclude anyone and grant baseball writers the power of morality judgment.
In fact, Landis desperately wanted the Hall to honor Eddie Grant, an average ballplayer who was killed in combat during the first World War — it never happened.
With that in mind, I’m hawkish on Steroid Era faces like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and I don’t even need much convincing.
"The Steroid Era happened! It happened. And based on the way the Hall’s voted in recent years, they’re tacitly acknowledging that by admitting accused users like Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez while ignoring more skilled accused users like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens."
The most cloying part of the Hall’s sudden burst of morality, to me, is that players like Bagwell and Rodriguez almost certainly used performance-enhancers, and weathered those accusations throughout their careers. But they never went to court to argue their case, so apparently, they’re clear? Or perhaps they were simply…worse than Bonds and Clemens at baseball, and didn’t embarrass the writers quite so much? Their localized careers didn’t create as much of a crater? Baffling.
And look out, because here comes David Ortiz next year, who showed up on a positive test in 2003! He’ll be ushered in with open arms because it…only happened once? Because you all like him? It’ll be unjustifiable, based on the tangled ball of twine the writers have gotten themselves into so far.
Of course, we’ve also been blessed with the other side of the morality coin, which involves writers trying to juggle C*** Sch****** fueling a Nazi insurrection with the occasional solid ALCS start. Hmm, which one weighs more heavily?! Tough to judge! Omar Vizquel was a bad baseball player, but he was also a bad guy! Huh! What ever shall I do?!
So, thus far, it’s a no on Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Gary Sheffield, all of whom can stake legitimate claims to election, but none of whom seem likely to pass the threshold anytime soon, and will all probably be reliant on Veterans’ Committees in the decades to come.
Perhaps the players who actually knew these men will be kinder than the writers.