MLB Hall of Fame Q&A with some of the OTN Guys

  • What is your opinion on electing players who have tested positive for steroids into the Hall of Fame (HOF) ?
    • Joe Lange – Honestly, after all the debating I have heard over the years on radio shows and TV I am sick and tired of hearing who has taken steroids and who hasn’t. There are many players who have taken steroids and either weren’t caught or they were suspected of taking steroids (even if they didn’t) and they will never lose that stigma.  We will never know exactly who was guilty of taking them or not so I say just elect whoever seems deserving of being in the Hall regardless of their level or steroid abuse.
    • Drew Walker – I find that I’m torn by this issue. I hate that athletes use steroids and it clearly gives an unfair advantage, but it only helps so much.  A player like Barry Bonds would not have broken the home run record without his use of steroids, but his ability to hit the ball well was already there.  So how do you balance out the steroid affect with the ability they already had?  I think, in general, I am against steroid users being elected into the Hall of Fame but a case can be made that any individual deserves it regardless.
    • John Candler – I have gone back and forth on this one. I am in a different position than most baseball fans as I am new to the sport (about 5 years of serious fan interest) so no one being denied is “my guy”. So I can and have been swayed from side-to-side. I guess it comes down to what the Hall of Fame is and is not. Is it simply a place to honor the best players of the game or are we going to take a moral stance and say only “good” people who play by the rules get in? That may be answered further down. I just don’t want those who have tested positive to be completely forgotten as many fans believe that if steroid use was so prevalent the ones who rose above would have used them.
  • What about electing players who have never tested positive, but either you believe, or it is public opinion, that they were steroid users?
    • Joe – A lot of writers will tell you that if they suspect that a player took steroids during their time in the MLB but were never proven to do so, then they would not vote for them. I think it is far worse to never elect a player into the HOF who was suspected of steroid use, than to elect someone in who was never proven to have taken steroids even though they did. Due to the fact that we will never be able to prove who did and who did not take steroids during their time in the MLB, I think anybody who played well enough to get elected in, regardless of guilt, should be elected.
    • Drew – If they never tested positive and never admitted to it, I don’t think you can prevent them from entering the Hall of Fame. We can’t just ignore a whole era of baseball players because they might have been using PEDs.
    • John – I say elect them in. If people want to be strict about rule-breakers AND suspected rule-breakers then I think there will be far fewer people in the HOF.
  • Is it fair to the players who never used steroids, but played in the steroid era, if players who have tested positive for steroid use are elected into the HOF?
    • Joe – Not really but what else do we have to go on? There is no simulator to run a player’s numbers though to see what they may have been like had the player been on steroids. I think anyone who had access to steroids that didn’t take them on principle should be applauded for their moral fiber. That being said, if someone cared more about their health than they did about getting better stats, then not making the HOF shouldn’t be something they truly care about anyway. They know they didn’t cheat and that should be good enough for them.
    • Drew – I don’t think it’s fair. There are players who had exceptional careers that, as far as we know, never used steroids.  The good news is it seems that the voters still take that into account and make sure the clean players get their fair chance.
    • John – Is it fair? No. But life isn’t fair. It is impossible to know if the steroid users would have been significantly worse. Which is why this is such a debate.
  • Do you think voters should take into account how good a candidate may have been if they had taken steroids?
    • Joe – No, like I said above there is no way to determine how good someone might have been had they or had they not been on steroids. If a player did well in the steroid era without taking steroids and is good enough to make it in anyway (eh hem, Greg Maddux), then that is all the more reason why they deserve to be in the Hall in the first place.  If they did not then I applaud them for not sacrificing their long-term health for an improvement in their performance for a few short years.
    • Drew – Absolutely not. Voters should look at the body of work of the candidate and judge solely on their accomplishments and impact. Perhaps the opposite should be done for players who have tested positive; voters should think about how good they would have been without steroid use.
    • John – No, because it is impossible to forecast. Vote on what you know, not what you don’t.
  • Do you think the HOF should be reserved for players who simply had great numbers on the field or should voters take into consideration off-the-field information regarding the player as well?
    • Joe – Definitely take off-field things into consideration. I think HOF voting should be similar to the Heisman. Nobody wins the Heisman with mediocre talent and statistics simply because they are charitable.  Plenty of players have won the Heisman and later had it taken away when it was shown that they are not good people off the field. I think HOF status should be able to be taken away as well if someone was a horrible person off the field. Now, one mistake does not make a horrible person make, but I definitely think it should be considered how they are off the field as well.
    • Drew – I think off-the-field information has to be included. A player’s impact on the game goes beyond just their statistics.
    • John – I don’t think off-the-field should be considered, but their records should definitely not be scrubbed and maybe their “bad” behavior should be on their plaque. It’s the “Hall of Fame” not the “Hall of Heroes”.
  • If you said yes to the question above regarding off-the-field information, what information should be included or ignored in making that decision?
    • Joe – Pretty much how they are off the field in general, getting into trouble with the law mostly. Just because someone isn’t a generally nice person in public doesn’t make them bad. A writer’s personal opinion of players shouldn’t be an influence, but someone with a domestic abuse charge or two should not be in the HOF.
    • Drew – The type of issues that come to mind are how they changed or shaped the public opinion of the MLB. Many of the worst steroid users tainted baseball for some time and had a huge impact on the way the sport was perceived.  On the other hand, their amazing feats attracted a new audience and sparked interest in the game again.  Those should be taken into account.  I believe that other issues should be included as well; look at the NFL right now, specifically the issues they are having with domestic violence.  Should a phenomenal player on the field really be included in the Hall of Fame if he has a criminal history like that?
    • John – I would like to add a post-script, unless that person has been convicted of murder or a crime similar.
  • What do you think about 1st ballot Hall of Famers vs. other Hall of Fame inductees?
    • Joe – It’s total crap. If someone is worthy of being in the HOF then they should be in, bottom line. If you are in the Hall then you are in the Hall, there shouldn’t be tiers within the HOF. There should be one year of voting on each player and if they don’t get in then they can appeal the process and be on another ballot one more time if it is approved.  The other thing stupid voters do is only vote for X amount of people each year and won’t vote for a certain candidate because “they had already voted for other players”.  The HOF shouldn’t be a competition; it should be a reward for a great career in the MLB.
    • Drew – I’m not sure how I feel about this. I think with any sport there are athletes who are just so good that it makes sense that they immediately go into the Hall of Fame. For other sports, there are just too many athletes for it to be immediately clear who is or isn’t Hall of Fame caliber.  Sometimes it takes some comparison to other guys to decide that someone deserves to be enshrined.
    • John – No difference. No gold stars should be awarded to first ballot. People will remember their favorites in their own way.
  • After this HOF election, voters ballots will become public knowledge, do you think this is a good or a bad thing? Why?
    • Joe – If another player comes along like Ken Griffey Jr. then we will be able to know who that one idiot was that didn’t vote for him and he will be publicly shamed forever, exactly what that person would deserve. It can be bad if people use public knowledge of their vote for public gain. This is about the players, not the voters, people.
    • Drew – I think like anything else it will be a mixture of good and bad. On one hand, voters will be more likely to give in to public opinion rather than their true opinion and professional knowledge. On the other hand, it will keep voters from hiding behind anonymity if they try to sell their vote or conspire with someone to manipulate the vote.
    • John – I can see why people would like this, but I am a big fan of the Australian (secret) ballot. I am just concerned that pressure may be put on people who don’t vote for a fan’s favorite player or from other writers. Fan is short for fanatic after all.
  • Voters have used their votes (whether it be for or against a certain player, or not even voting at all) to gain publicity in the past, do you think this will change now that their ballots will become public?
    • Joe – Yes, like I said above this should be about the players and not the voters but plenty of voters will use this to market themselves. From what I heard the votes will be announced after they are tallied but the ballots casted won’t become public for up to a week after the election status.  This will give the public and the internet time to fume over someone casting a stupid vote and will only explode after the news of who submitted the vote comes out.
    • Drew – I think there will be some change there. Voters can still use platforms to promote their votes and gain publicity, especially with controversial votes. The biggest change will be the randomness of who gains attention because internet popularity is so unpredictable.
    • John – That aspect will change and the limited amount of publicity may lessen. People will still broadcast beforehand though.
  • Current voters for the baseball HOF include writers for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) who have been active writers for 10 years. Do you think they should be the ones voting on who makes it to the HOF?  If not, who else should do this?
    • Joe – Yes, these guys are in the locker rooms, interviewing players, and watching many games; however, most of them have never played professional baseball. Additionally, I think players currently in the HOF, people in ownership roles for the various organizations, and/or current managers of the game should be voting for HOF inductees. You could argue that there may be biased by ownership to elect someone in their own organization in but that is only one of many possible votes, not likely to make a big difference. Most owners haven’t played baseball, but a lot of other people in important roles within the organization have and owners have to make the biggest impact decisions for the franchise as a whole.
    • Drew – I definitely think overall these guys should be voting on the HOF. They cover baseball every day and know more about the sport than most people. I just wonder if other HOFers or past players should be included in the voting process.
    • John – I like that rule and there may be no perfect system.
  • Is there anyone not currently in the HOF that you think should be? If so, who and why?
    • Joe – Besides anyone that isn’t in because they played during the steroid era? Nobody really comes to mind.
    • Drew – I think Roger Clemens is a player who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. There are some questions about his potential steroid use but all of the accusations say that he started them after his 12 years with the Boston Red Sox.  His career up to that point was already worthy of Hall of Fame consideration and his ability as a pitcher is unquestionable. Players like this show why the question of steroid use and admittance to the Hall of Fame is not a simple black and white issue.  His numbers before any thoughts of steroid use were already great.
    • John­ – Curt Schilling. Personal politics should not be taken into account.