Those are words that are in Rule 5 of the BBWAA Hall of Fame rules for voting. The entire rule states: “5. Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.”
Definitions of each of these terms:
“ABILITY”: competence in an activity or occupation because of one’s skill, training, or other qualification
“INTEGRITY”: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
“CHARACTER”: moral or ethical quality: a man of fine, honorable character; qualities of honesty, courage, or the like; integrity; reputation: a stain on one’s character.
Read those definitions closely. Then read the rule closely.
Many people have been using the defense that PED’s were not banned from baseball when they players in question on this year’s ballot actually played. This may be true. But with this rule, I would think that those users would automatically be crossed out as an option in the voters minds. Sure, those guys put up incredible numbers, and some, including Bonds, may have been on track for a HOF career even before their PED usage began, but once they started to put those substances in their bodies, I believe their integrity was gone. I believe the sportsmanship part of their game was false, and their character was damaged.
Baseball is such an important part of the American history. I believe the famous quote from the movie “Field of Dreams” nails it. “The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
I do believe that many of these players have their milestones or significant accomplishments already enshrined in the HOF, but it certainly does not mean that the player needs to be. Were they a big part of the game? Most certainly. However, due to the rules that the writers are supposed to abide by, these players CAN’T be inducted.
Here’s another thought…. if these guys don’t get in BECAUSE of their (suspected or proven) use of PED’s, what message will that send to current and future players? How many players didn’t get their chance to shine and earn a chance to be a part of this process because of the guys who used PED’s? If they get in, or even votes, does it lessen the weight of what the clean players character, integrity, sportsmanship, and even numbers carry?
I completely understand where the defenders are coming from. This PED era is really making things difficult. It IS a part of baseball history now, but I just cannot support the ones that go against the rule stated above. Perhaps rule changes would help? Or hurt? I really feel bad for the “good guys” on the ballot who are being overshadowed by the attention that the PED suspects are getting in this year’s vote! There are a lot of really solid names on that list. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m sure glad I am NOT one who holds a ballot in my hand right now because today’s vote could change the face of the Baseball Hall of Fame, and it may not be good changes in the near future.