Hall of Fame second baseman Joe Morgan has written a letter to baseball writers, urging them not to vote for players that have been tied to performance-enhancing drugs.
Morgan didn’t mention players by name, but pitcher Roger Clemens (54.1 percent of the vote last year) and outfielder Barry Bonds (53.8 percent) have been moving up in vote percentage each year, getting closer to the 75 percent needed to be enshrined.
When Clemens and Bonds were first on the ballot in 2013, they were at 37 percent and 36 percent respectively. After the 2017 ballot, they have five years left to be considered by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Bonds and Clemens were named in the Mitchell Report, but never failed a drug test. The Mitch Report was a 20-month investigation by federal prosecutor and Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell at the request of former commissioner Bud Selig.
“Steroid users don’t belong here,” Morgan said in his letter.
Morgan says he doesn’t speak for all the Hall of Famers, but he said many of them might not attend the July induction if players that knowingly used steroids make it in.
Morgan said that Hall of Famer players in conversations believe that if they don’t speak up, voters might think they don’t mind steroids users getting into the Hall. “We can no longer be silent,” Morgan wrote.
Two Hall of Famers - Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell - had their elections slowed because of suspicion of steroid use. However, they got in.
In addition to Clemens and Bonds, two other players tied to steroids accusations on the ballot are Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield.
Voting for the Hall has gotten more difficult because of the steroids issue.
The BBWAA voters say it is almost impossible to know which players did or didn’t take steroids because they don’t have enough information.
They also think that steroids users might already be in the Hall, that guys like Clemens and Bonds already had Hall of Fame credentials before they allegedly started using, and that they don’t want to be judge and jury for such a difficult decision.
They want to be fair and keep all the steroids users out of Cooperstown. Either that, or not worry about it at all.
As a BBWAA Hall voter, I don’t agree.
I think reporters are asked to make tough decisions and I think they have to be made on a case-by-case basis. I don’t believe Clemens’ 1.87 ERA in 211 innings at age 42 is legitimate. And, obviously, Bonds’ 73 home runs in 2001 - followed by seasons of 46, 45 and 45 - are controversial, considering the allegations.
Ballots were mailed to voters this week. They are due Dec. 31 and the totals will be announced Jan. 24. We’ll see how many voters will be changed by Morgan’s letter.