Today, to the utter surprise of no one, the Baseball Writers' Association of America didn't vote a single player into the Hall Of Fame for the first time since 1996. Former Mets slugger Mike Piazza, Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Curt Schilling, Tim Raines, and Edgar Martinez were all shutout. The snubs were a commentary of the steroid-era in baseball—the only problem is, not all those players have been linked to, let alone accused of, using steroids. Which means that Piazza, Bagwell and Biggio, in particular, are suffering for the sins of their contemporaries.
"I think as a player, a group, this is one of the first times that we've been publicly called out," Schilling said. "I think it's fitting...If there was ever a ballot and a year to make a statement about what we didn't do as players—which is we didn't actively push to get the game clean—this is it." Schilling has previously spoken out about player refusing to stop the prevalence of cheating; Schilling has also wavered over the years about just how widespread it was, and how responsible individual players should have been.
But while it's easy to publicly shame Bonds, Clemens, and other suspected, accused and admitted steroids user—and lump them together with people like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro—it doesn't seem very fair to the players who have never been accused of, or proven to have done, them. And that includes Piazza, who hit .308/.377/.545 with 427 homers in 16 seasons. He got just 57.8% of the vote, coming in fourth overall (Biggio came in first with 68.2%, still below the 75% needed to make the Hall).
As this fake first person NBC piece points out: "I Googled myself and I couldn’t find a single article written which presents any facts which would reasonably lead someone to withhold their vote. I wasn’t named on any lists or outed in anyone’s book. There’s just…nothing."
Over the next two years, there will be a glut of talented players up for the Hall, including Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas, Mike Mussina, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, and John Smoltz—all of whom deserve to be voted in on their first ballot. This may cause more problems for Piazza and the rest of this year's deserving players, but there's a good chance this wrong will be righted soon enough (and hopefully people like Bonds and Clemens will continue to be shut out).
On the plus side of all this, maybe someone will finally look long and hard at the process of voting and decide that the Baseball Writers Association of America may not really know what they're doing.