David Ortiz was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday night as the sole member of this year’s class, which is great. Fantastic. Ortiz is one of the greatest Boston Red Sox players of all time (if not arguably the greatest), the greatest DH to ever do it and an enormous part of some of the most historic World Series wins in MLB history.
However, another two of the league’s greatest players, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, are now off the ballot. They will never be in the Hall of Fame for the sport in which they hold historic achievements after being kept out for their alleged use of banned substances. And it’s a huge mistake by Major League Baseball.
When you visit the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, you want to walk the halls and see the greatest baseball players who ever lived, right? The players who were the best of your grandparents' generation, your parents' generation and bring your kids to show them the greatest players of your generation. But for people my age and a little older, some of the greatest baseball players from our childhood are absent from the sport's Hall of Fame.
I will always remember waking up the morning after Bonds broke the home run record, finding out and watching everything about it on SportsCenter with my brother. That was one of the most historic moments in MLB history and the guy responsible for it isn’t in the Baseball Hall of Fame. And as for Clemens, it's a tough look for the guy with the most Cy Young Awards in history to not be in the Hall of Fame.
Now, Pete Rose is a completely different story. He’s the all-time hits leader, but he was banned from baseball. He should not be in the Hall of Fame. Bonds and Clemens were never banned from baseball.
And Ortiz himself isn’t completely squeaky-clean. He’s Big Papi and everything but he reportedly showed up on a list of players who tested positive for a banned substance. So what are we doing?
When you talk about the history of baseball, which the Hall of Fame and Museum is supposed to represent, it’s difficult to not mention Bonds or Clemens. The HOF should tell the story of baseball in its entirety, warts and all. The steroid era is a HUGE part of the MLB timeline and leaving out players from that time is a huge mistake. Big swing and a miss, pun intended. That was an incredible time in baseball history and, in fact, I think that era should have its own wing of the museum and that’s where Bonds and Clemens should be as inducted members of the Hall of Fame.
And what about pitchers who used foreign substances before they started checking for it just recently? Where is the line for which players get in and which don’t?
There’s no reason why the Hall of Fame can’t induct Bonds and Clemens, who were at one point faces of the MLB, and put asterisks on their plaques. Or make a choice, make all players who are alleged to have used steroids ineligible for the Hall of Fame or let players in despite that. It's got to be one or the other, all or nothing. Simple as that.