Perhaps you have seen several HOF voting ballots on Facebook on Twitter lately. Several baseball writers and journalists, who are organized in the Baseball Writers Association of America, have put their ballot on the world wide web. For the first time, you can see a heavy shift towards voting for several PED users.
Voting for PED users was a no-no in the recent past but the enshrinement of former MLB commissioner Bud Selig appears to have opened Pandora’s Box.
You can wonder why Selig has been voted into the Hall of Fame. What did he do to deserve this? Sure he was the man who brought MLB back to Milwaukee after the Braves had left for Atlanta. Selig bought the Seattle Pilots and moved them to Milwaukee and donned the name Brewers. But what were his merits during his time as commissioner?
As acting commissioner, after the MLB owners had ousted Fay Vincent as commissioner on an 18-9 no confidence vote, installed the Wild Card and divisional play off play, which caused controversy with the fans. Selig was also in office when the players went on strike in 1994. He canceled the 1994 World Series as MLB got without a World Series for the first time since in ninety years.
In 2002 Selig introduced interleague play and called the All Star Game of that year a game at a 7-7 tie after the 11th inning. Selig also decided that the league that won the All Star Game, would have home advantage in the World Series.
Selig was also one of the responsible persons for the demise of the Montreal Expos as he orchestrated a move in which John Henry bought sold the Florida Marlins to Jeffrey Loria and Loria sold the Expos to the other 29 owners MLB. Eventually, this resulted in the move of the Expos to Washington DC.
But Selig will be best remembered for his fight against PED use, even though this was rather hypocrite. After the 1994 player strike, MLB suffered deteriorating attendance numbers as fans turned their back to baseball. Baseball needed something to get out of this dip. In 1998 the homerun race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was heaven sent. In a homerun race that will aways be tainted due to the use of PED, McGwire broke the seasonal record of Roger Maris (61*) and finished the season with seventy dingers.
This race helped baseball to regain its status and Selig was willing to turn a blind eye. Also during the days when Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron’s record of 755 career homeruns, Selig looked the other way.
Eventually, under his leadership, MLB started to fight PED use and suspended several players.
And that is exactly why MLB writers are in limbo.
Even though there are plenty unwilling to vote for PED users like McGwire and Bonds, there is a trend of voting for them. Those who have voted for McGwire, Bonds, Clemens and Pudge Rodriguez claim that they are not scrupulous because a commissioner who turned a blind eye on PEDs has been voted into the Hall of Fame. And why should you not vote for PED users if that commissioner has been voted in.
A few days ago, I had a discussion on Twitter with a baseball writer who published his ballot. He had voted for Bonds, McGwire and Clemens as well. On my comment that I did not understand his choice, he commented that there are several PED users in the HOF already. Players like Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. I knew that those players used greenies, an amphetamine that helped them to stay concentrated longer.
But IMO that is different. Those greenies did not improve your power. But on the other hand, greenies were widely used in baseball as Jim Bouton stated in his book “Ball Four”, and they helped players to improve their performance in the long run.
To be honest I was silenced by his comment. How can you blame writers to vote for PED users if a commissioner who turned a blind eye has been voted into the HOF?
Luckily there are still writers who oppose to voting for PED users. But the BBWAA has taken a turn that may lead to voting PED users into the HOF in the (near) future.
I hope that those writers who are opposed to voting for PED users will prevail.