For only the 8th time in history, no veteran ballplayer got elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Not the one with the home run record for both a single season and for a career. (That would be Barry Bonds.) Not the pitcher with the third-highest strikeout total in history. (That would be Roger Clemens.) Not a slew of other players with better records than some of those already enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Why not? This is the steroid generation. From sportswriter Tim Brown:
On a day when 569 voting members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America could not agree on a single worthy candidate, Barry Bonds, the greatest hitter in the game, fell short by 221 votes. Roger Clemens, the best pitcher of his generation, missed by 213.
The outcome will be viewed as overdue justice or an outrageous injustice, depending on your heart and timeline. The system worked or it is irretrievably broken. The ballot was a statement. Or an exercise in mass confusion, coupled with dereliction of duty.
Near the end, Hall president Jeff Idelson, a good man in a difficult spot, withdrew a white piece of paper from a serious-looking envelope, arched his eyebrow and announced the result: bupkis. I’m paraphrasing.
We knew we’d get here. The tepid candidacies of Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro told us so. We didn’t know the degree to which it would leak into the wispier areas of innuendo, and neither Jeff Bagwell nor Mike Piazza cleared 60 percent. (Bonds and Clemens were under 40.)
Is this “overdue justice or an outrageous injustice”?