Here is how baseball’s Hall of Fame PED controversies has affected me, my family and, perhaps, a generation of baseball fans:
The raucous, unfair and unprofessional behavior of around 500-plus voting media members has rendered the process as complete buffoonery. It’s a cartoon of mass proportions. While the media continues to swing and miss in all its political coverages – whether you lean politically left or right – its Hall of Fame contributions may be among the most shameful display of professional conduct.
It’s almost as if the Hall-selecting committee exhibits no code of conduct.
It’s deep and personal when the likes of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are kept out of the Hall. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, plus Rafael Palmeiro and Manny Ramirez. Jose Canseco could’ve had a shot. And Gary Sheffield, plus Alex Rodriguez.
On Jan. 22, 2018, four more players were elected by the Baseball Writers Association of America. None of the afore-mentioned claimed a spot, though A-Rod is not yet eligible.
My son, Danny, collected all their baseball cards in the early 1990s. Born in 1984, the kid followed my lead into following a sport in which many fathers and sons enjoyed together. Danny bought, traded and craved baseball cards.
That little guy, age eight on up, adored those cards.
He memorized their stats.
We went to games, seeking autographs afterwards.
When it was time for the World Series, or the playoffs, or a huge pennant race game, we had the TV on full bore.
My youngest son, Chet, had pictures. Cards. Autographs. Autographed balls. He stared relentlessly at TV screens whenever Bonds came to bat. On those trips to the ball park, there were no trips to the rest room or snack bar when the Giants’ lineup was only a couple players away from Bonds’ spot in the batter’s box.
As the PED drama played out, dozens of players were spotlighted for using performance enhancing drugs. In the cases of the afore-mentioned players, it’s possible they’ll never be inducted into the sport’s greatest showcase.
I remember Danny saying to me, “Dad, I don’t know who to believe any more. It’s like they’re taking my childhood heroes away.”
Eight years younger than Danny, Chet completely bought in – BIG TIME – to the San Francisco Giants. At a time when Bonds was asserting himself into baseball’s home run chase, Chet was like millions of others.
Watching. Admiring. Enjoying those magical moments.
Milestone moments like 500 home runs. 600. 660, tying Willie Mays. 700. Then 715, cracking the Babe. Finally, 756, working his way past Hank Aaron.
He was almost at the game against Washington when Bonds slugged No. 756. I wouldn’t let him, nor his sister, Kelli, go to a night game by themselves. They went up to the Bay Area to stay with my mom and grandparents. Kelli was just 18. Chet wasn’t yet 14. Imagine letting two kids at that age loose on the subway train – alone in The City. With all those vagabonds? Not at night. It was hard enough letting them go in daylight hours.
Meanwhile, I was on the road with Danny, heading for Tallahassee, so I could drop him off at Florida State.
I’d picked the game after – a day game – in trying to predict when Bonds would go deep for No. 756. Got them game tickets. Airline tickets. They missed seeing the record-breaker by a day. By the way, Bonds wasn’t in the Giants’ lineup in that game.
To this day, I’m kidded and reviled for being such a bad father.
A few years earlier, Chet had been at World Series Game Six. October 2002. Angels and Giants. In Anaheim. Leading 3-2 in games, anticipating the Giants’ first World Series championship since 1954, he watched Bonds strike a massive HR off Frankie “K-Rod” Rodriguez. It was a Hall of Fame moment.
It wasn’t so pretty to watch a 9-year-old boy crying after the game. The Giants had blown a 5-0 lead. They lost. One day later, the Angels claimed the World Series trophy.
Chet, like millions of others, was in total awe of Bonds. His swing. His power. His complete dominance of pitchers, some of whom may have been using PEDs.
Hall of Fame selectors missed their chance to cover the story when it was taking place. They cannot now re-enact their mistakes by voting to keep the top candidates from their chance at glory.