On Wednesday January 9th, the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) did not elect a player into the Hall of Fame, the first time this has happened since 1996. It is not hard to figure out why no one will be giving an acceptance speech in Cooperstown in July. The ongoing cloud of steroid abuse kept many voters from putting in new candidates Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Roger Clemens and subsequently kept out Craig Biggio whose 3,060 career hits should have been a slam-dunk enshrinement. Now that this was the first referendum on the steroid issue, it is time to look at a group of people who have not been scrutinized in their role in the great performance-enhancing drug (PED) con. The group that should now have some explaining to do are the people who cover baseball for a living including those in print, in broadcasting and on the Internet.
Think about it, beat writers cover their respective teams from mid-February through October. They are with these guys practically every day for almost 75% of the calendar year and the two sides probably know each other better than their own families. Then there are the national columnists, including the members of the BBWA as well as television and Internet personalities, powerful individuals of the baseball media. They all spend extensive time on the road talking with beat writers as well as players and management. Are we supposed to believe that all of these members of the media, like the rest of us had an idea PED’s were running rampant but did not want to know the truth? Given the amount of time spent around players, these people had to have known who was taking steroids but did not report anything for fear of being cut off from the game they cover. That makes them just as guilty as everyone else involved in this scandal that has plagued baseball for years.
I have purposely not read or listened to reactions from the media until I was able to write this piece. I wanted my opinions to be my own and not accused of taking them from someone else. I can only imagine that those who did not vote for players based on PED suspicion or confirmed as fact are being ridiculed by their fellow press members who either did vote for or would have voted for those proven to be or suspected of steroid use. My opinion is if they have Hall of Fame numbers, then they should be voted in. If players that are clean have a problem with that, why did they not voice their displeasure to their union back when they were playing? I would have voted for Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro simply because their careers are good enough to get in. Besides, players such as Gaylord Perry and Whitey Ford had no trouble being selected even though they scuffed baseballs which can be argued is just as bad if not worse than PED use. However, those writers who are calling out other BBWA writers for supposedly taking a high moral ground on the steroid issue shouldn’t talk. After all, they had their own suspicions and also had to have known who was juicing. The excuse, “we had our heads buried in the sand” just doesn’t cut it. Why can’t these guys tell us who was guilty so we can put this mess behind us once and for all? If they were given information off the record, then they could write or say something like this:
“I knew there was a high level of steroid abuse in Major League Baseball. I know which players at the time were using, either by their own words or through confidential sources. I can’t reveal these names because they were given to me off the record. I would estimate that I know X amount of players who were on PED’s”.
While the Mitchell Report names 89 players, you can bet the list doesn’t end there. The real answers could have been provided by the people who actually cover the game. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that they let us down then with shoddy non-reporting and let us down now by not putting anyone into the Hall of Fame. Should we trust these guys with any kind of information from now on? The baseball media struck out with their non-coverage of this issue and their attempts to rectify the past are too little, too late.
Follow me on Twitter @ltj41 and covering the Arizona Diamondbacks at http://venomstrikes.com