12/14/07 11:39 AM ET
Writers unsure about Clemens and Hall
Mitchell Report casts doubt on future Cooperstown candidates
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
Said Jack Magruder, who covers the Diamondbacks for the East Valley (Ari z.) Tribune: "Yes, off the top of my head. [The] answer is that yes, [the Mitchell Report] will impact my vote, just as every other piece of information about Hall of Fame candidates does, but I am not sure to what degree. As time goes on, we will learn more about the so-called 'steroid era' and will be better able to gain perspective on the issue. I am very reluctant to jump to a conclusion this soon after the Report was delivered."There are three players mentioned in the Mitchell Report who are listed on the Hall of Fame ballot that was distributed to members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America at the beginning of December. Mark McGwire is one. He was eligible for the Hall of Fame last year, and that's when BBWAA voters gave their first indication of how they felt about alleged steroids users. Once considered a lock for the Hall of Fame, McGwire received just 23.5 percent of the votes. "I did not vote for Mark McGwire last year, and won't this year," MSNBC's Tony DeMarco said. "The same will hold true for Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and others, and now you can add Roger Clemens to the list. Just because we are finding out that more and more players were indeed users, that doesn't make it any more justifiable in my mind. The argument that 'so many other players were doing it, too,' just doesn't carry any weight with me. It still was wrong." Chuck Knoblauch and David Justice are up for the Hall of Fame for the first time this year, but they're also in the Mitchell Report. Others have time on their side. A player must wait at least five years after his career is over before he can be included on the Hall of Fame ballot. If Bonds and Clemens never play again, they won't go on the ballot until after the 2012 season for induction in summer 2013. Some voters, as ESPN's Peter Gammons and Tim Kurkjian said on "SportsCenter" on Friday morning, prefer to wait. "I think I've been pretty consistent in saying that there's no real point in making decisions before you have to," said Paul Hagen of the Philadelphia Daily News. "Especially five or more years before you have to. I will say that if anybody still had any doubts, the Mitchell Report makes it clear how widespread the use of steroids was. So instead of judging players on whether or not they used performance-enhancing substances, I think the focus now shifts to measuring their performance within the context of the steroid era." There is also the suspicion that the Mitchell Report still didn't give the full picture on just who was using steroids and who wasn't. "If you didn't buy your steroids from Kirk Radomski or BALCO, then there's a good chance you didn't get caught," said Danny Knobler, who covers the Tigers for Booth Newspapers. "Obviously, there are a lot ways to buy steroids. Is it fair to eliminate the guys who bought steroids from the guy that the feds caught and George Mitchell had access to and you can't eliminate other players who bought steroids from other players?"
There are many different points of view among the voters but the bottom line is this: Getting 75 percent of the vote is a difficult thing to do under normal circumstances, and it's not good to have any taint or suspicion if you desire permanent residence in Cooperstown.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.