Controversy in Cooperstown: What to do with the Baseball Hall of Fame

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Photo courtesy of the Baseball Hall of Fame

Throughout the history of baseball, debates have risen concerning players who used performance-enhancing drugs. Specifically, what to do with the players who broke records but were also suspected of or admitted to using steroids.

Earlier this month, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America cast their ballots for the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductees. In his first year of eligibility, Ivan Rodriguez received 76 percent of the votes cast, passing the 75 percent threshold required for election. The controversy around the vote is that Rodriguez has been linked to steroids. A book written by Jose Canseco, a former “juicer” himself, alleged that he personally injected Rodriguez with steroids while they were teammates in Texas. When pressed later in his career on steroid use Rodriguez said that only God knew that answer.

Another familiar name heavily accused of using steroids appears to be knocking on the door of the Hall of Fame. Roger Clemens received 54 percent of the vote this time, up nine percent from the previous year. In a government-run investigation, Clemens’ personal trainer admitted to injecting him with Steroids in 1998, 2000 and 2001. If he keeps up his current rise, Clemens will be inducted by 2020.

The use of performance-enhancing drugs is just one of the many fascinating storylines surrounding Cooperstown. Major League Baseball’s all-time hits leader, Pete Rose, was banned from the sport in 1989 for gambling on games during his tenure as a player-manager with the Cincinnati Reds from 1984-1986. What he did was wrong and he was punished accordingly. However, if voters are going to induct those who knowingly cheated by enhancing their play on the field, why are they leaving out the league’s best hitter who played the game clean?

Another mysterious movement in the balloting process is the situation surrounding Curt Schilling. A few of his accomplishments include: six-time All-Star, three-time World Series champion and the 2001 World Series MVP. From 2015 to 2016, Schilling’s votes jumped from 39 percent to 53 percent. However, this year he received just 45 percent of the vote. He is a controversial and outspoken conservative, and was let go by ESPN in 2016 for scrutinized social media posts. I was able to reach out to Schilling on his weekly radio show, “Whatever It Takes,” to ask him if he believes his political ideologies are partly to blame for his snub.

“If I was a CNN news guy, then that’d mean I was a liberal and I would say I’d probably be closer than I am now,” said Schilling. “That’s neither here nor there though and I don’t care either way.”

In sports, the Hall of Fame has never been about persona or character despite a character clause in the voting criteria. O.J. Simpson is still a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Schilling received the Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team,” as the league defines it. My plea to the writers who cast ballots is to be consistent in voting and focus on each player’s abilities on the field.