The results are in...

By OWEN O'BRIEN
On January 17, 2013

  • Chris Renschler, associate professor of geography, was appointed to NYS Respond, a commission New York Governor Andrew Cuomo created in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Courtesy of University at Buffalo

Here we are. The Major League Baseball (MLB) Hall of Fame Class of 2013 has been announced. And if you are having trouble recalling the newest inductees, that is natural. There are none.

For the first time since 1996, Cooperstown will not be inducting any players to its exclusive club this July. The most anticipated hall of fame results in the 77 years of voting have come and gone and it's time for the debates to begin.

It is hard to find a player in this class who isn't cluttered with controversy.

It was the first year of eligibility for Sammy Sosa, who received below 13 percent of the vote. His pal Mark McGwire returned to the ballot for a seventh time and received under 17 percent of the vote. It was these two men whose 1998 homerun race arguably saved baseball. Unfortunately, their connections to steroids are indisputable.

It was also the first year on the ballot for one of the greatest hitters of all-time, Barry Bonds, and one of the greatest pitchers, Roger Clemens. However, these two are also poster children of the Steroid Era.

The 11-time all-star, seven-time Cy Young winner, two-time World Series champion and Most Valuable Player, Roger Clemens, received the highest total with 37.6 percent of the votes.

These four athletes have clear connections to steroids and don't deserve to be part of baseball's elite. Not yet, at least.

What is the worst part about the Steroid Era? It has tainted even the clean players, or the idea of a clean player.

Jeff Bagwell, who was a career .297 hitter over 15 seasons with 449 home runs, has now been denied his rightly earned plaque for the third time. He received just shy of 60 percent of the vote, leaving him short of the necessary 75 percent for baseball immortality. Bagwell lacks connections to steroids, but somehow, he has been roped in with these players because of the years he played and the fact that "he's big."

Craig Biggio, one of only 28 players to record over 3,000 hits in his career, also came up short of Cooperstown. Biggio also has no connections to steroids. If you look at him, you will know why. Biggio was a hard-nosed player who played the game the right way. Over his 25-year career, Biggio recorded 16 seasons in which he played at least 140 games. His reward? A rejection letter in his first year of eligibility.

Mike Piazza, the greatest offensive catcher of all-time, will have to wait at least another summer to give his hall of fame acceptance speech. Piazza ranks first in homeruns (427), fourth in runs batted in (1,335), fifth in batting average (.308) and first in slugging percentage (.545) among catchers in MLB history. No other catcher is in the top five in more than three of these four categories.

Piazza, however, only received 57.8 percent of the vote. Piazza also has a spotless record, but thanks to his peers, 42 percent of the writers were afraid to vote him in as a first ballot hall-of-fame player.

Players like Bonds, Sosa, McGwire and Clemens were the definition of long shots to be enshrined in their first year of eligibility. However, the question on the minds of sports fans was:  how would the "clean" players be affected?

Clearly, there are no "clean" players. Or at least that's what the Baseball Writers Association of America thinks.

What happened to innocent until proven guilty? The voters have made it clear this is not their state of mind.

And if you think I'm furious about there being no Class of 2013, just talk to a business owner in Cooperstown who just saw the craziest week of the year gone thanks to needles and lies.

           

Email: owenobri@buffalo.edu


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