The 2019 MLB Hall of Fame ballot was announced recently, and, like in every previous year, the question of whether or not players who used steroids should be voted in comes with it. The two most controversial, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, have seen their percentages rise each of the last four years. Jorge Eckardt and Mike Mavredakis debate whether the likes of Bonds, Clemens, Sosa, McGwire and the rest deserve a plaque in Cooperstown.
Jorge Eckardt: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the like may have been some of the most impactful players of their generation, but the fact remains they got there by cheating. Using steroids gave them a clearly unfair advantage over players who decided to stay clean. Sure, Bonds may have hit 762 home runs and Clemens may have won 354 games, but had they not taken steroids, those numbers would have been much lower. Who knows, they might not even have been in the Hall of Fame conversation whatsoever. The bottom line is that steroids are a form of cheating, and players that did use them need to face the consequences.
Mike Mavredakis: Yes, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens cheated, but in the process, they did something for which baseball as a whole could not thank them enough: they helped bring back baseball. In 1994, the Major League Baseball Players Association went on strike. Fans were upset and a lot of them lost interest in baseball. According to MLB ballpark attendance totals, there was not one stadium which had a higher attendance total in 1995 than in 1993. The steroid era helped bring back the fans. By 1999, 17 out of the 30 MLB ballparks had a higher attendance than they did in 1993. In five short years, these players and MLB brought back the game from the brink.
Jorge Eckardt: While that may all be true, it doesn’t change the fact that taking steroids was against the rules. Sure, Bud Selig may have turned a blind eye to it, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. The Hall of Fame is a celebration of the best parts of baseball history, and the steroid era is a stain that should not be celebrated. I wouldn’t be opposed to a section of the Hall of Fame that highlights the steroid era and talks about the effects that it had on the game, but steroid users like Bonds and Clemens should not be enshrined next to greats of the same generation as Ken Griffey, Jr., and Randy Johnson. It is disrespectful to all the players who stayed clean.
Mike Mavredakis: Yes, the Hall of Fame is a celebration of the best parts of history, but it is there to tell the story of the game. You simply cannot tell the story of baseball history without its home run king and one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Barry Bonds won seven MVP awards, the most all-time, and Roger Clemens is one of 10 pitchers who have ever won one. Clemens also won seven Cy Young Awards, the most ever as well. They were both excellent players before their obvious PED usage later in their careers. Bonds was in the top-10 of the MVP vote in every season between 1990-2004 except 1995 and 1999. He was one of the most feared hitters ever, as he drew 2,558 walks throughout his career, with 688 of those being intentional. Both of these numbers reign atop the all-time rankings. They were remarkable players, and they helped reignite this great game. They should be in the Hall of Fame for their bodies of work, and for allowing future players a shot, for it is possible that the game would have never been the same without them.
Jorge Eckardt is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Mavredakis is a campus correspondent for the Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.