Look, I'm not a big baseball fan, but something just doesn't seem right.Last week, the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame refused to let anyone from this year's class of candidates join Cooperstown. Each eligible player must receive 75 percent of the vote to become a Hall of Famer; nobody did.
This isn't because this year's list is devoid of talent. No, this year's list included the all-time greatest home run hitter, baseball's only seven-time Cy Young Award winner and a few other household names with their own places in record books.
On stats alone, these baseball greats would've been a sure bet for the Hall of Fame.
Here's the curveball; some of this class did steroids. That's right, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa (allegedly) took performance enhancing drugs. Because the voting process criteria includes terms like "integrity," "sportsmanship" and "character" these guys did not make the cut. ESPN talked about it in between shots of Tim Tebow (on the bench) and the Lakers (another loss!), and the news faded. The sports world moved on.
Well, I say wait a minute. The Hall of Fame is right in withholding membership from those who knowingly broke MLB rules. But considering a whole generation of players broke the rules, and the terms of their rule breaking elevated the game, then maybe it's the rules that are broken. Baseball is a sport, but Major League Baseball is a business dependent on an audience. That audience exists if and only if the baseball is exciting (for proof on that claim, go to a Royals game) so the entertainment ability of its players drives the profit. What do steroids offer? More entertainment value. We want our athletes to perform at their highest possible standard — steroids raise the bar.
And please, don't whine that steroids aren't fair because not everyone has access to them. In a league with no salary cap, any complaining based on uneven economic abilities is rather hypocritical. If steroids are evil because only those with money can get them, then the Yankees should be abolished for their free agency practices. Though I'm sure pumping chemicals into your blood is dangerous, so is playing baseball. Any pretense of "protecting the players from themselves" was dropped long ago, when pitchers began blowing out their elbows and shoulders and outfielders first leapt without reservation into outfield walls.
The people pay to see them play. For 20 years, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa provided that service more than adequately. A rule that prohibits the greatest players from recognition as the greatest players is unjust. They broke that rule, and though they lacked the idealism of the Founding Fathers or the humanism of Martin Luther King Jr., they echoed a tradition that's been around for centuries. As St. Thomas Aquinas said, "An unjust law is no law at all."
So with Cooperstown, I agree. Barry broke the rules, so Barry can't come in. But any rule that keeps the greatest home run hitter out of the Hall of Fame is a rule that needs a closer look.
Let 'em play.
— R.J. Vogt is a sophomore in College Scholars. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.