On Tuesday evening, David Ortiz was the lone player elected to the Baseball of Hall of Fame. Still, for baseball’s home run, king Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, who were shut out on their last attempt, begs whether a change needs to be made as to how players are elected.
It is no surprise that players elected into the Hall of Fame are voted in by writers of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The writers base their vote on the following: player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
The character clause has been the topic of conversation for many writers. The character clause is considered when voting, so writers vote for only a few players, while some do not even submit a ballot based on this clause. This clause is why Bonds and Clemens are not in the Hall.
In 2017, Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan sent a letter to all BBWAA voters saying, “We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here.” Morgan was such an icon in the game of baseball, but to be fair, PED use has been around long before MLB started cracking down in the early 2000s.
What Ortiz did throughout his career, especially in the postseason, was spectacular—bringing the Boston Red Sox back from a 3-0 deficit in the 2004 ALCS against the New York Yankees and then leading the Red Sox to their first World Series championship since 1918 is one of the reasons why Ortiz was elected to the Hall on his first year on the ballot.
In 2003, Ortiz was a part of an anonymous group of about 100 players who registered to be tested for PED use. Although it was never made public, Oritz did test positive. The BBWAA voters feel that even though Ortiz tested positive and it was never made public, it does not count as a valid link to PED use. So, if Ortiz can get into the Hall based on this information, why are Bond and Clemens being snubbed when they should be in the Hall?
The only reason that Bond and Clemens are not in the Hall is that they were linked to PED use, even though they never tested positive. The BBWAA writers used this information to exclude the two players who deserve to be in the Hall based on the character clause.
A Hall without MLB home run king and the most dominant pitcher that most would compare to Nolan Ryan is not a Hall that should be worthy of them. The purpose of the Hall is to acknowledge a player’s accomplishments during their career. Both Bonds and Clemens will still have an opportunity to get in when the Era committee votes in December. Until both are in the Hall, the BBWAA needs to revisit the character clause because if they don’t, the integrity of the Hall will always be questioned.
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