Major League Baseball Weighs Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens Cheating
This year’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot includes 3 of the more controversial potential candidates – Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Roger Clemens. All three put up spectacular, HOF type numbers, yet all three are likely benefactors of steroid-inflated numbers as well. Should players who cheated be eligible for the Hall of Fame? And as far as cheating goes, what about other athletes who cheated by using illegal equipment (corked bats), gambled (Pete Rose), or played using illegal techniques (Gaylord Perry’s spitball)? Making things even more complicated is the nebulous variable of “character,” and the degree integrity and likability impact a players chances for the Hall of Fame? Does being a sports role model matter anymore??
Since it is murky when it comes to the “human” criteria voters use beyond on-field success when selecting MLB players into the Hall of Fame, I tried to break down some of the sport psychology criteria that also factor in to final results.
- Likeability. It seems that if a player has borderline HOF numbers but is likeable and media-friendly, his chances increase. Looking at Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens, Sammy Sosa was the most beloved of the three, with Bonds probably being the most disliked. Clemens, while not as disliked as Bonds, lost a lot of credibility (and probably votes) in the aftermath of his legal battles pertaining to steroids/HGH.
- Perceived seriousness of the crime. How will voters look at players who used steroids and HGH? Since it is now reasonably assumed that a lot of players used drugs and supplements during the ’90’s and 2000’s, will it matter much? Have we become desensitized to these crimes, or will the current players be made examples and pay a serious price?
- Ownership of wrongdoings. To me this might be the single biggest factor when it comes to fans forgiving and forgetting a player’s previous crimes. It’s pretty clear that when players take ownership of their actions and are remorseful, the general public seems to forget and move on pretty quickly. For example, when Andy Pettitte admitted to using, it wasn’t long after that people forgot that he previously cheated. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have never admitted to using steroids, even though it’s become almost comical at this point to think neither man used when we have never before nor since seen power numbers dramatically improve as players aged into their late 30’s and early 40’s.
Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens are this year’s controversial HOF candidates, but there will be more players eligible in the years ahead. To what degree and extent the variables discussed above impact each player’s potential for induction remains to be seen. However the results, this year’s class will set the bar and precedent for future players to measure.
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