The following opinion piece is a contribution from Trae Lewis. You can follow Trae on Twitter @traelewis.
Before I dive into my thoughts on the most recent snubbing of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds being elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame, I’d like to take you back to the ancient year of 1992. It was a warmer than usual day in the middle of December. Here is where we find a very much younger Trae Lewis on the verge of taking a spelling test. Prior to the test a young lad by the name of, well I can’t remember his name, 1992 was a very long three eight-year term president’s ago. Anyway, the young lad passes me a cheat sheet for all the correct spelling of all the upcoming words on the test.
I looked over the cheat sheet, and noticed I already knew how to correctly spell the words, thus not the cheat sheet. The test happened, he got a perfect score, and I think I got a B. I walked away knowing most the words, and not knowing how to spell a few others. Not perfect, but I gained a little more knowledge that day. Not sure if the young lad that warmer than usual day in December does or not. For the sake of the story, he doesn’t. For the sake of the story, he needs spell check for those twenty words.
So how does this relate to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens? Glad you might ask.
Well, in my opinion the Baseball writers refusing to enshrine into the hall of fame a seven time MVP and a seven-time Cy Young award recipient, Bonds and Clemens respectfully, is a cheat to both current and future Baseball fans. A cheat that is for a retroactive punishment to Bonds and Clemens for their usage of performance enhancing drugs. Retroactive in the sense they were never punished during their playing years, so the writers have decided to punish them by not electing them into Cooperstown.
Yes, the negative stigma of using performance enhancing drugs is real and relevant. Bonds and Clemens are both regarded as top five hitters and pitchers respectfully, however the cloud of PED’s will forever linger above them, chipping away their stature. Even if they were elected to the hall. Their stature against the Mays, Gehrig’s, Gibson’s, and Aaron’s of the world are diminished based off PED’s. The fact Bonds and Clemens personally know they’ll never be regarded in the fashion as the yesteryears greats or even in the same stature as contemporary hall of fame members Griffey and Maddux, must hurt them. Especially given both Bonds and Clemens had more astonishing careers. As far as Major League Baseball and the fan base, let’s not pretend both parties didn’t welcome and salivate over the long ball. Let’s not pretend other players didn’t think, or didn’t lightly use anything to enhance their performance or injury recovery. Remember, PED’s were primarily used for injury recovery and or resistance to the same. PED’s could never produce the batting acumen Bonds displayed or the masterful pitching knowledge of Clemens.
Back to the point of cheating fans of the game, it’s very simple. As the young lad in my class used a cheat sheet, a quick fix to overcome a potential bad grade on a test. He cheated himself in the future for not knowing how to those twenty words without assistance. A piece of knowledge, in my own personal experience has helped me. When applying for employment, I had to take spelling tests to pass the employer assessment tests. Who knew decades later a spelling test, would help aid me in getting a job.
The here and now emotions state Bonds and Clemens should be punished for their usage of PED’s. I get it, and I also get the likes of Sosa, Palmeiro, McGwire, etc. not getting a pass cause of PED’s. The question is, is it worth it? Are their sins worse than the sins of Ty Cobb and Kenesaw Mountain Landis? Landis, the commissioner who upheld the “gentlemen’s agreement” that Major League Baseball would forever be segregated. The same Landis we name the Most Valuable Player award after. And besides a good Soundgarden song named “Ty Cobb” I don’t care to speak much about the man.
We know the proper measurements, distances, and lines of fair and foul on the field of Baseball, but we still tackle with those same fair and foul lines off the field. Until we can do so with pure judgement, we should welcome players who rightfully should be in the hall based on their playing abilities. Let’s not cheat ourselves today, a cheat today that future fans will only know about the greats only by looking them up and never knowing first hand.