The Class That Could Change Everything

national baseball hall of fame and museum logoThe Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the most difficult Halls to get into as it is one of the few halls that have let in one player in a year. Last year was one of those years as the BBWAA would only elect Barry Larkin to the hall with the addition of Ron Santo from the veteran’s committee. It is one of the most respected halls in the world as only the best of the best can make it in. Now the Baseball Hall of Fame is in a unique spot in sports that baseball in general has found itself before. With baseball being the oldest professional sport in North America it holds a special spot in the larger sports world. When the MLB finally integrated with Jackie Robinson leading the way the entire sports world watched and began talking about integration in other sports. This has been the way for years as baseball is consistently at the front of sports and the hall of fame will have the same role this year. The hall of fame will have the role of determining the future of PEDs in North American sports. The Baseball Hall of Fame will have some very difficult decisions to make this year when they announce the newest members of the hall. The decisions will all centre around the steroid era in baseball. It was one of the most exciting eras in baseball as everything seemed to be going well with home runs races and a lot of offence. Then it all came crashing down when the Mitchell Report came out listing numerous players as users of Performance enhancing drugs. Every hitting record of the era would come under scrutiny with the top offensive players in the game all being accused of using steroids. Some would admit to the use of steroids and would be punished accordingly. Others though would make a public display of fighting the accusations and many would be proven innocent, usually on technicalities, although their reputations would never recover. Now two of the biggest names in the steroid era are up for induction and the decision could change the way PEDs are thought of in sports. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were two of the focal points of the steroid era as two great players named in the Mitchell Report would be inducted into the hall. Both would deserve a spot if they had not been fingered in the Mitchell Report but as they were the debate has started. Will steroid users be considered among the best of the best or will they be sacrificial lambs for an era tainted forever. This year will be one of the most important for baseball as they will send a message one way or another about PED use in sports.

 

Barry Bonds

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Barry Bonds is one of the most polarizing people in baseball as he is both an enemy and a saviour of baseball. The MLB was just coming out of the dead ball era where pitching ruled and offence was hard to come by. Bonds would be one of the offensive standouts that would lead a new era of offensive baseball. He would continue to hit HRs and became one of the most feared hitters of the 1990s leading the league in walks as well. In 2003 Bonds would be linked to the BALCO Scandal with his trainer, Greg Anderson, accused of distributing steroids to his clients including a number of baseball players. The rumours surrounded Bonds but the scandal was just breaking and the steroid issue had not been as prevalent so many would not pay too close attention to it as Bonds would remain an offensive powerhouse. In 2007 he would make a run at the all-time home run record held by Hank Aaron at 733 home runs. He would beat the record in August hitting his 756th home run of his career. The race towards the home runs record would be one of the biggest stories in baseball the entire year and for the MLB it would mean a resurgence back into the major sports world. That was until he was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice as the grand jury had claimed that Bonds had lied under oath about his involvement in the BALCO Scandal. Bonds was convicted of obstruction of justice in 2011 and would quickly become the face of the steroid era. If the hall of fame elects him it is sending a clear message that accomplishments are greater than following the rules. If Bonds would have been a clean athlete and done what he did on the field he was a shoe-in for the hall but the steroid use will be the big debate over whether he deserves a spot or not in the hall.

 

Roger Clemens

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Known as “Rocket” Clemens was the definition of a power pitcher with a devastating fastball that almost nobody could catch up to. Clemens would become the most dominant pitchers of the era and that would be only a few years into his career. He would become the first pitcher since 1971 to win the AL MVP and in 1986 would become the first pitcher to strike out 20 batters in one game, he would do it again in 1996. Clemens would continue to be the dominant pitcher of the MLB long into the end of his career when he would finally begin to start breaking down as injuries would end his career in 2007. In 2005 Jose Conseco released his book naming number of players including Clemens as steroid users. A report on steroid use by Senator George Mitchell would also name Clemens as a part of the widespread use of steroids in the MLB. Clemens would deny that he used steroids maintaining his stance through his trial for perjury. In 2012 he was cleared of all charges of lying to Congress as some would take it as proof of his innocence while others would still consider Clemens a cheater. The biggest issue with Clemens is that he was a great pitcher and would have been a hall of famer if he had not reportedly started using steroids. Clemens would likely not have been a pitcher into the 2000s without his alleged steroid use although he may have still been a hall of famer even only pitching into the 1990s. He is yet another person on the ballot this year that could send a message to the rest of the MLB as he has been acquitted of lying to Congress but is still considered a cheater. If Clemens makes it in there will be many people who will now see use of steroids as a simple part of the game rather than cheating.

 

Jack Morris

Jack Morris World Series Game 7

Jack Morris is one of the many players that have been waiting years for his chance to get the call for the hall of fame. It is not for his lack of talent though as Morris was a dominant pitcher of the 1980s and the early 1990s. Morris was a large reason for the resurgence of the Detroit Tigers in the 1980s and would be one of the main parts of the 1984 World Series Championship. Morris would go to Minnesota for a year before signing with the Toronto Blue Jays where he became the ace of one of the most dominant teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s. He would win two World Series with the Blue Jays in 1992 and 1993 as the ace of the repeat champions. Many times Morris falls through the cracks when the greatest pitchers are mentioned but there is no doubt that he was a leader in a time where offence was king. Morris represents just how hard it is to get into the Hall of Fame as he has slowly climbed up the ladder since his first ballot in 2000. In his first three years of eligibility he would not receive anything more than 30% of the vote. As his campaign has moved on he has steadily increased his candidacy to earning 67% of the vote in 2012. As he has continued to be on the ballot he is someone who has taken advantage of the steroid era. He was a dominant pitcher at a time where offence was taking over. During this time Morris was never accused of taking steroid yet still was dominant and with stories of steroid use increasing those players who never used are becoming more impressive. Jack Morris deserves to be in the hall and with so many questionable players up for induction the hall could send a message to say that the use of steroids is not needed to make it and Morris is a perfect example of the type of player they want.

 

Mike Piazza

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Mike Piazza is considered one of the best offensive catchers to play in the MLB and was a fan favorite in New York. His career would start in a very odd way as his father would ask LA Dodgers manager to do him a favour and draft his son in the 1988 MLB draft. He would make an impact from the start of his career as he would break the lineup in 1993 and would win the MLB Rookie of the Year Award. From that point on Piazza would become one of the offensive stars in the National League. After six seasons with the Dodger Piazza would be traded to the Marlins and quickly traded to the New York Mets. This is where he would build his great career as he would move to New York and embody the attitude of Mets fans. A hard-working gritty catcher who had the ability to hit for average and for power, Piazza would become one of New York’s favorite athletes. In 1999 Piazza would be the leader of the Mets and would help them make the postseason and would do it again in 2000. It would be the first time in Mets history that the team would earn back to back postseason appearances. He would also lead the Mets into the 2000 World Series where they would lose in five games. Piazza was a big part of the team in their best years and is still a symbol of the days when the Mets were true contenders in the MLB. The one issue that may keep him out though is that his legend was built mainly on his offensive abilities and not his defensive abilities. The defence as a catcher is very important but Piazza cannot be counted among the best in this category. Luckily for him the offensive numbers are a lot sexier when it comes to the hall meaning that he will have a chance although they may make him wait due to his lack of defence

 

Curt Shilling

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Curt Schilling can sometimes be forgotten in the offensive age but the numbers don’t lie about one of the best clutch pitchers in the MLB. His performance when his team needed it was the one thing that separated him from the rest. As a member of the Phillies in the 1993 he was a key part of the pennant race going 16-7 to lead the team to the playoffs. Then, while in the playoffs, he would earn an NLCS MVP award when he led the Phillies past the Atlanta Braves with a 1.69 ERA and 19 strikeouts. Schilling would continue this as a member of the Boston Red Sox where he would quickly become a fan favorite as one of the key members of the streak breaking team. The last time the Red Sox would win the World Series was in 1918 and since then the “Curse of the Bambino” would see them on the outside of the championship for years. Then came Curt Schilling and a number of other players in 2004 as the Red Sox would make a run at the World Series. The Red Sox would depend on Schilling to lead them through the postseason including the infamous Game 6 of the ALDS when he pitched in a winning effort while suffering through an ankle injury that would leave his white sock bloody. The Game 6 win would force a game seven that would end the comeback from three games down as the Sox would go on to win the World Series. Schilling would be a key part of the 2007 World Series as well with the Boston Red Sox. Schilling was also an outspoken star who had issues with the media and with management but the fact remains that when teams needed a win Schilling was the man to turn to. Schilling can sometimes fall through the cracks and it will be his first chance at the hall meaning that he may need to wait. Yet again though, if he would get in to the hall it would be a message that dominating pitchers who are not involved with PED use can make the hall.

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