Red Sox: Is Roger Clemens headed for Baseball Hall of Fame?

Nov 14, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Roger Clemens stands on the Houston Cougars sideline during the game against the Memphis Tigers at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 14, 2015; Houston, TX, USA; Roger Clemens stands on the Houston Cougars sideline during the game against the Memphis Tigers at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Former Boston Red Sox star Roger Clemens is receiving strong ballot support for the HOF. So are others linked to PED’s. Yet Curt Schilling remains a long-shot.

Former Boston Red Sox star Roger Clemens will be in the Baseball Hall of Fame eventually.  Others of questionable character will join the “Texas Con Man” and a few have a Boston connection.

Why? Has there suddenly been a eureka moment where the writers have simply diverged onto a different path? Opinions can certainly change as the facts change, but the facts have not – the players are not suddenly “innocent.”

Baseball writers are gatekeepers for the Baseball Hall of Fame. They are the decision makers for entry and the unfortunate circumstances are that they happen to be human with all the prejudices and failings that accompany us.

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There is absolutely not a shred of doubt in my mind that Curt Schilling was denied entry into the HOF based on his quite outspoken views. A punishment for being a casualty in cultural and political wars. The phrase that applies is “I dislike him so he deserves to be treated unfairly.”

Schilling has the precious “numbers” that justify his entry. I find it amazing that someone who played with an injury that cost him many a game is being dismissed while serial abusers of PED’s are considered acceptable.

The writers are given standards which they are supposed to apply to the ballot. There is one standard which is simply a type of morality clause that allows a player to be rejected based on negative behaviors. If Bill Cosby was up for induction, he would most certainly be rejected even if he had won 600 games and slammed 1,000 home runs.

The HOF is  not filled with the Mother Theresa’s of baseball. The early days of the game were populated with outright racists. Cap Anson  provided his input into making the game a domain of white players. Others that entered were notorious alcoholics, gamblers, and miscreants of various sorts. The behaviors were – unfortunately – a product of their times. I am sure they would have dabbled in PED’s.

This all changed recently with the induction of retired commissioner Bud Selig. The Today’s Game Committee honored Selig with the prestigious entry into the HOF. Selig was “The Man” when baseball and PED’s were all the rage. Did Selig have a clue? I happen to be a believer in the benefit of doubt method, but with Selig, that is firmly dumped in the local landfill.

Selig, ownership, the player’s union, players, fans and even the media were far too compliant in the obvious pumped up players and pumped up numbers. Business was good – very good – and the money from cable, radio, merchandising, attendance and the whole shebang made life very good for all. Fans loved the long ball and baseball started to look like a backyard whiffle ball tournament.

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Good times are all too often followed by bad times. The bad times that came home to roost included some exceptional serial lying on the part of star and former star players. Eventually, they faced the stigma of being baseball outcasts. The rest? Owners still made money and the commish went merrily on his way. Being an fall guy does not justify entry.

The real question is do those exiled deserve entry based on a new mindset or the inexcusable entry of Selig into the HOF? I think not. I do so for two reasons.

The first is it is an insult to players who remained clean. They made a choice – an ethical choice to not cut corners. Those who chose differently made everyone appear guilty just by association. The most noted players are the ones that have grabbed the headlines, but there is a second level that is far more destructive – the borderline player.

Two players fighting for the last roster spot – one takes a shortcut and one does not. One has a slight edge – maybe a little more pop on a line drive? Maybe ten extra feet on a fly ball? Maybe just enough to get the job and the minimum salary, lifetime insurance, and a pension if he lasts 35 days on the roster. The other player? Back to the bushes never to see an MLB dugout.

That may represent overreach on my part but just think Manny Alexander. The lesser player that managed to hang on thanks to a bit more additives in his own personal playbook.

The second reason is the magnitude of their actions. This is serious cheating. This is Bernie Madoff baseball level cheating. Stealing signs are like swiping a candy bar compared to PED’s. The level of cheating for some players – hello, Alex Rodriguez – was a lifelong venture. Others engaged for years – maybe decades? Do you honor such a level of deceit? Sad to say, but you do – think Selig!

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If the various players who certainly statistically belong get entry, then baseball should have them led into the HOF by Pete Rose.