Ultimately, to extent that baseball had a steroid problem, it was a collective failure. Players didn’t say anything, managers looked the other way, ownership and the front office definitely didn’t care, reporters were silent about it, and the fans, oh the fans, well we certainly didn’t care. The more home runs Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and Ken Griffery Jr. and Barry Bonds hit the more tickets me bought at higher and higher prices. We loved the offense, we loved the towering, majestic, bordering on unbelievable bombs we were seeing hit. People crowded into Wrigleyville and McCovey Cove in droves to catch the near murdered baseballs that were being sent there by the dozens, and revenue boomed all across baseball. If you think, in retrospect, that this was all a disgusting display of moral failure, then it’s one we are all responsible for, and seeking to punish individual players for being a part of it is akin to demanding Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig be taken out of the Hall because baseball was segregated during their careers.
But hey, I’m a practical guy, and I realize that I’m in the extreme minority here. Very few people share my level of tolerance for steroid users. And because of that, a lot of them are spending a lot of time trying to figure out what to do with Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa and so on, to say nothing of the Jeff Bagwells who are the unfortunate victims of suspicion and ignorance. Should we err on the side of keeping ‘roiders out, even if it means punishing some innocent players, or should we just vote for anyone we don’t have evidence against, even if it means some juicers inevitably get in? Personally, I see a rather obvious solution to this problem; create some sort of process for removing a player from the Hall of Fame, at least for disciplinary reasons. Jeff Bagwell goes into the Hall and 3 years later it’s proven he used steroids? Put it to some sort of vote to determine whether or the entrusted electorate thinks he should be kicked out of the Hall. This presents some logistical problems, but my guess is it will be relatively rare to see someone kicked out, and it should make the initial voting process easier, as voters won’t necessarily feel like they have to weigh their suspicion against baseball history if they really don’t want steroid users to be enshrined.
And then people like me can concentrate on going to work on the real morons in the media.