Steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame

Quote of the Day: "It bothers me. A lot of Hall of Famers are very offended by this. I am starting to get affected and I am hoping that those guys that get caught don't get into the Hall of Fame.'' -- Reggie Jackson

I hate what performance enhancing drugs have done to the integrity of my favorite sport -- baseball.

But if we start saying that any and all steroid or human growth hormone use means an instant disqualification from eligibility for the Baseball Hall of Fame, we run down a slippery slope.

Before the Steroid Era, we had the Greenie Era. How many Hall of Famers used amphetamines to get an edge? Since the dawn of baseball, players have found ways to cheat. How many used spitballs, corked bats, stolen signs, etc., to get an edge?

If we argue, "If you get caught, you're out," then how many players WON'T get caught but might still make it into the Hall of Fame?

Then you can argue, which stats are valid and which should be tossed? If David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez were juicing, then are the recent Red Sox World Series victories legitimate? If Barry Bonds started juicing after 1999, should we discard his homeruns, RBI, stolen bases, etc. after that year but keep the numbers before that? Likewise with Roger Clemens -- can we count him as a Hall of Famer for his career before the steroid accusations, when he was arguably "clean," and discount his numbers in the later years of his career if it can be proven that he used performance enhancing drugs? (If that's the case, if he only used steroids late in his career, then he might still have earned the numbers to be a valid Hall of Famer.)

But if we then argue that simply using steroids ONCE should be reason to disqualify someone from the Hall of Fame, because they have hurt the integrity of the game, what about the existing Hall of Famers who were known to be far from saints? I'm talking about the unapologetic racists who are in Baseball's sacred Hall.

If Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson can't be in the Hall of Fame because of the crimes they committed against the sanctity of the game, aren't there other folks already in who might have skeletons in their closet or might not be the most upstanding of people, but, hey, they had the numbers?

It's a mess.

I just love the game. Clean it up, move on, make a note that this was a "steroid era" and let history judge them. Then go out there and play ball.