On August 7, 2007, Barry Bonds socked his 756th career home run. This long-ball put him atop the all-time home run leaderboard, passing the great Hank Aaron. However, despite this amazing accomplishment, Bonds has yet to be enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Additionally, many other great players have been kept out of Cooperstown because of one embarrassing scandal.
In 2003, Bonds became the center of BALCO steroid scandal. In the following years, many well-accomplished players were named in The Mitchell Report for their alleged usage of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs).
However, while these players may have cheated to improve their playing abilities, their accomplishments should not be overlooked.
PEDs Don’t Just Magically Make You Better
When looking at the players mentioned in both the The Mitchell Report and the Biogenesis scandal, some of these players never even made the big leagues. A lot of them didn’t come to close to the accomplishments of Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, or Sammy Sosa. The most successful players got the most notoriety because they were the best at while using PEDs to their advantage. They didn’t just get better because they took PEDs and then sat around doing nothing for hours each day.
These Players Were Great Before They Took PEDs Too
Barry Bonds was a three-time National League MVP before he showed up to Spring Training in 1999 looking larger than usual. Roger Clemens was a three-time Cy Young Award winner and a former MVP before his resurgence in his mid-30s. Mark McGwire was six-time All-Star and 1987 AL Rookie of the Year before injuries started taking a toll on him. The list of accomplishments for these players go on forever. In fact, these accomplishments show that these players had Hall of Fame talent. They elevated their games from great, to outstanding after they started taking PEDs.
Bud Selig Turned a Blind Eye To All This, Yet He’s In The Hall
Bud Selig was commissioner of Major League Baseball from 1998 to 2015. He took over right before the peak of the steroid era. Additionally, Selig was inducted into Cooperstown in 2017 by the Today’s Game Committee, receiving 93.7-percent of the vote. While some people praise Selig for cracking down on steroid usage, he is also remembered as the man who let it all happen. If Selig had started regular drug-testing back in the late 90s or early 2000s, it would have discouraged players from using them. Instead, he didn’t take action until 2006. By that point, Bonds had won four more MVPs, Rodriguez had won three, and Clemens had won three more Cy Young Awards. Additionally, Sosa and McGwire had their remarkable home run chase, and Eric Gagne miraculously transformed from a failed starter to a Cy Young winning reliever.
America Loved Baseball During The Steroid Era
When McGwire and Sosa had their thrilling home run chase in 1998, baseball was on national television almost every night. Through 2007, baseball was the most watched sport in the United States. However, after The Mitchell Report, baseball viewership plummeted. Additionally, attendance in 2007 was a record-high 79.4-million, and has dropped each year since, according to Baseball Reference. In 2019, attendance dropped to a disappointing 68.4-million, the league’s lowest number since 2003. Overall, baseball during the steroid era excited America, and the sport has struggled to regain the spotlight since.
To conclude, players who took PEDs should be allowed into Cooperstown. These players achieved feats that few ever came close to, before and after their usage. Additionally, if the man who let steroids be used is in the Hall of Fame, then the players who used them should be in too.