On the heels of the Baseball Hall of Fame vote, West Newsmagazine sportswriter Warren Mayes wrote an editorial about why he chose to vote the way he did. Like so many other baseball writers, Mayes was influenced by the decisions of athletes associated with the “steroid era.” He chose to take their decisions into consideration when making his.
His editorial was posted online on Jan. 10 and is reprised below.
The Baseball Hall of Fame vote really didn’t come as a surprise; neither did Lance Armstrong’s long overdue admission that he used performance-enhancing drugs. When Armstrong sat down with Oprah Winfrey there was no shock, just sadness that so many people bought into the myth.
Neither the vote nor the admission make fans feel any better, but maybe the fault lies with us – the lovers of the games.
Maybe we set ourselves up for disappointment when we allow ourselves to believe that athletes are in it for the love of the game and the pride of a personal best. Maybe athletes should never be elevated to the status of heroes. Or maybe we simply choose to revere the wrong athletes.
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Baseball Hall of Fame vote carries a message of integrity
By WARREN MAYES
I’ve always considered it a privilege to fill out the Hall of Fame ballot as a member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
This year Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza became eligible for the first time. That alone makes this ballot contentious, divisive and somewhat bitter for voters. It brings the aptly called “steroid era” into focus.
Obviously, former Cardinal Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro have been on the ballot in recent years. They have never received my vote nor did these newcomers. I don’t like being put in the position of being judge, jury and executioner, but I take the part of the ballot instructions that lists the integrity of the game to heart. Since there is an “integrity, sportsmanship, character” element in the rules – and there is – I chose to invoke them.
For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, sending a firm signal that stars of the steroids era will be held to a different standard.
All the awards and accomplishments collected over storied careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa could not offset suspicions that those exploits were artificially boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced by the Hall and the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent needed for election. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.
McGwire, 10th on the career home run chart, received 16.9 percent of the vote on his seventh Hall try, down from 19.5 last year.
I joined the BBWAA in 1980 when I was a sportswriter for the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo., and covered the Kansas City Royals. After 10 years, I became eligible to vote. A member can fill out 10 spots and, when I was younger, I did. In recent years, I have not.
This year, I voted for just six players. My choices were Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Edgar Martinez, Tim Raines, Fred McGriff and Craig Biggio, who was on the ballot for the first time.
Here’s why I voted for them:
• Morris was one of the toughest pitchers in the 1980s and ‘90s. He was the ace on three different World Series winners (‘84 Tigers, ‘91 Twins, ‘92 Blue Jays). He also made 14 opening day starts and finished with 253 wins. I know some don’t like his 3.90 ERA, but he pitched in the American League where there is a designated hitter.
• Smith retired as the all-time saves leader in 1998 but he’s been passed. In his prime, he was as good as anyone.
• Martinez was one of the all-time great designated hitters and he is overlooked because he was considered one-dimensional. He just played by the rules in the American League and should not be penalized for that.
• Raines was the second-greatest leadoff hitter after Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson in recent times.
• McGriff ended with 493 homers and seven consecutive summers of 30 or more homers.
• Biggio had 3,060 hits and is the only player in baseball history with at least 3,000 hits, 600 doubles 400 steals and 250 homers.