JAN. 23 OFF THE MARK COLUMN — MARK SPENSLEY, CO-PUBLISHER
Once again, steroids and performance enhancing drugs have grabbed the sporting news headlines these past couple of week.
First on the docket were the Hall of Fame snubs of baseball greats Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. All three were up for election for the first time since retiring. All three came up way short of the necessary votes needed to become Hall of Famers.
In discussing the likes of Bonds, Clemens and Sosa and if they deserve to be in the hall of Fame, since all three have been linked to PED’s, I have heard both sides of the story. Some supporting them and others rallying against them. I have found very few who seem to be stuck in the middle of the road on this issue.
Myself? I have an opinion and I am sticking to it. Here it is; all three deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Include Mark McGwire on that list as well.
Here is my reasoning. I’m basing it on the premise that all four of these ballplayers were good enough to be considered for the Hall even if they never injected an illegal substance into their bodies.
Bonds and Clemens are no-doubters. Maybe Bonds doesn’t hit as many home runs as Hank Aaron but he may be the best player of my time.
Maybe Clemens doesn’t win five MVP awards, or however many it was, but he still is the most dominant pitcher of my time.
Blindly, they both got caught up in the numbers game of the steroid era, like many other players. Bonds watched the McGwire-Sosa home run duel of 1998 and felt cheated. So instead of fighting them, he joined them. Probably the dumbest decision he ever made.
In my mind, can steroids really make a big difference for a pitcher? You still have to hit your spots and remain healthy. To me, health or longevity would be the reason for a guy like Clemens to try the juice.
Some day I think you will see both Bonds and Clemens in the Hall of Fame. Of course, I’ve been saying that about Pete Rose for the past 20 years as well.
On the flip side of the PED issue, for a long time I didn’t really care if Lance Armstrong doped or not. It wasn’t a surprise to me because it seemed to be rampant in the sport of bicycle racing.
But now stories are coming out after Armstrong’s admission that he took performance-enhancing drugs. What’s most shocking to me is the strong-arm tactics he used to force employees and teammates to adhere to his stance or face the consequences.
That bothers me way more than the fact that he cheated to win seven Tour de France races.
Performance enhancing drugs and cheating in athletics is part of our history now in the sports world. The powers that be need to keep making it harder to cheat, but we shouldn’t turn our backs to this history. Let’s get guys like Bonds and Clemens into the Hall of Fame but let their stories be part of their legacies, no matter how corrupt they may be.