The problem this year went beyond the PED users and the suspects (and I’ve already mentioned the names of one or two of those) and how any of us are supposed to police a situation that MLB refused to monitor for many years. Home runs were flying, tickets were selling, and the media was writing “Baseball is back!”
The ’90s were a wonderful time to stick your head in the sand, and we all did.
I have said I always vote for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because they were the best players of their generation and they were collecting MVP and Cy Young trophies before venturing into extracurricular activities down the stretch. I can’t say the same for Sammy Sosa, who gained 60 pounds during his career if you can believe his baseball cards and appeared to profit mightily from that growth as it went along.
Likewise for Manny Ramirez, who failed tests and was suspended, unlike Bonds or Clemens.
However, voting for Bonds and Clemens was nothing more than a symbolic act until this year. Last month I saw voter polls suggesting both men were creeping closer to appearing on 75 percent of the ballots, the threshold for induction. I don’t think they will get there, but I had to at least reckon with the notion that my vote could put one or the other into Cooperstown.
But I feel like they belong there, and the whole world knows the story of the federal government spending millions in vain to put them behind bars for PED use — one of the dumbest events of our time — so I voted for both.
Then came Curt Schilling.
The man is a borderline Hall of Famer. I have voted for him in the past and I have not voted for him in the past, depending upon the depth of the class. On this year’s ballot, I felt like he was the 10th-best player. For me, it came down to Schilling or Mike Mussina. In the regular season, Mussina pitched longer and piled up more wins. Schilling had the better ERA and the superior ERA-plus which takes in ballpark factors.