Hall of Shame: Stop Ignoring the Steroid Era

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A picture of the National Baseball Hall of Fall logo

Owen Lapp

The Baseball Hall of Fame has a problem. They’ve tried to ignore its presence, but the Steroid Era has reared its ugly head once again, and voters have no way around it. The 1990’s and early 2000’s were filled with PED and steroid-using baseball players. But despite home run records being destroyed, and massive men roaming the field, the baseball world did not suspect a thing. Details were overlooked, and issues were ignored. And now the ghost of the steroid era has returned to haunt Hall of Fame voters.

Let’s begin with the issue of who to vote for. No, players who used steroids should not be rewarded for cheating. But, the Hall of Fame’s mission statement is to “preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball”.

It is impossible to preserve all of baseball’s history while also concealing a pivotal time in its history. Baseball cannot make the same mistake twice by overlooking the Steroid Era as if it had never happened. You also can’t honor excellence that has been inflated by cheaters. So what is the solution?

I present my plan for the Baseball Hall of Fame to educate baseball fans about the past while also not immortalizing false heroes: the Hall of Shame, featuring the Steroid Section.

Go to the Baseball Hall of Fame. But don’t go in. Go into the building right next to it, with the large title of “Hall of Shame.” Go into the lobby, take a left at the Black Sox Memorial, go around the Pete Rose Gambling Gallery, go through the Astros Trash Can Tribute, and you will find yourself in the Steroid Section.

The Steroid Section will highlight the home run chase of ‘98, Rafael Palmeiro’s Congress blunder, and more from the Steroid Era. It will not be in the same area as the great moments in baseball, but it will be available in its own corner of the complex. After your time in the Hall of Shame, feel free to buy Jose Canseco’s book in the gift shop.

Instead of covering its flaws, baseball needs to accept them. Not honor them, but remember them. Don’t put the likes of Curt Schilling, Barry Bonds, and Sammy Sosa in the Hall of Fame, but you need to put them somewhere. They are a big part of baseball’s history, and the Hall of Fame’s job is to remember history.

In the 90’s, there were clues that something was amiss. Specifically 1998, which at the time was baseball’s greatest year, but it had a dark secret. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were crushing home runs all year, both at historic paces. That was where the questions should have begun.

Sammy Sosa was a good player, but he had never hit more than 40 home runs in a season, and had only hit more than 30 three times. Sure, it was plausible that he had finally hit his stride in his age 29 season, but jumping from 36 home runs in a season to 66 is quite a stretch.

Another hint was Mark McGwire destroying the single season record for home runs hit with 71. A ridiculous number. What could have caused this? Nobody really knew, nor did they care. This was a great season for baseball, and that was that. It wasn’t until Steve Wilstein noticed that McGwire literally had PED’s IN HIS LOCKER that the baseball world started to wonder if this was too good to be true. By the time the truth was uncovered, it was too late. Baseball had been scarred forever.

I don’t know how to start a campaign like this, but we need a small building right next to the Hall of Fame called the Hall of Shame, which reflects on all of baseball’s failures. The Steroid Era was ignored once by baseball. This time, they can’t dance out of the way like Mark McGwire avoiding steroid questions. They have to face the problem head on.