So they unveiled the Hall of Fame Class of 2015 Tuesday, and nothing has changed.
Now much of the debate is on Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and all the others associated with the performance enhancing drugs that didn’t get in, instead of celebrating Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, John Smoltz and Craig Biggio.
Baseball can’t go on like this.
The Steroid Era happened. There’s no undoing it.
Yet until members of Baseball Writers’ Association of America — who annually pass judgment on what may or may not have happened with their Hall of Fame votes — put the PED issue behind them we’re going to end up back at in this same spot every year.
The game can’t move forward until everyone comes to grips with its past.
The reasons PEDs were so prevalent was because everyone, from players and owners to fans and writers, allowed it to happen, caught up in the euphoria of record-setting home run chases and soaring popularity.
It’s all been well chronicled thanks to the Mitchell Report, anonymous leaks and congressional hearings. It was a dark time for the national pastime, and now it’s time for the voters to move on.
If a nominee’s numbers are worthy of induction, and they haven’t been convicted of using PEDs or banned by Major League Baseball, they should be considered, not shunned.
There’s no way to know for certain every player who was using PEDs. And what about Hall of Fame managers like Tony LaRussa, with players like McGwire clearly contributing to his victory total. You can’t tell me LaRussa had no inkling something was going on in his clubhouse.
It would also lift the cloud hanging over the heads of players like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, who have been linked to PEDs through speculation and innuendo.
It’s all about perspective.
Major League Baseball has had a testing program since 2004 with harsh penalties in place for violators. Before that, there was no deterrent other than the risk of long-term health issues. The union fought to prohibit testing and everyone else turned a blind eye.
What we learned on Tuesday is that anyone associated with PEDs is still persona non grata in Cooperstown.
And that ensures that baseball will continue chasing its own tail, doomed to keep reliving a past that many fans would just as soon put behind them.
Staff writer Stephen Edelson is an Asbury Park Press columnist: firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @SteveEdelsonAPP