11/28 Hall of Fame decisions
The Hall of Fame releases the 2013 ballot at 11 a.m. CT today, and it should prompt some interesting discussions. Sammy Sosa is one of the players on the ballot for the first time. In 18 seasons, Sosa hit more than 600 home runs. He’s the only player with three 60-homer seasons, hitting 66 in 1998, 64 in 2001, and 63 in 1999. He’s one of two National League players to reach 160 RBIs in a single season, which he did in 2001. The other was another Cubs player, Hack Wilson, who holds the single-season mark of 191 set in 1930. He was a seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger winner. He won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1998 and the Hank Aaron Award in 1999. He hit more home runs (479) than anyone for any 10-year period. He’s the only player in NL history to have six consecutive seasons of 40 home runs. He is the Cubs’ all-time home run leader (545), passing Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.
But Sosa’s career also has other elements for Hall of Fame voters to consider. According to a NY Times story in June 2009, he was allegedly among 104 Major League players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. Sosa was never found guilty by an official MLB party. In 2005, he joined McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco at a hearing before Congress regarding drug use in baseball. Sosa’s attorney testified on his behalf, saying the slugger had never taken illegal performance enhancing drugs.
The Hall of Fame ballot states: “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.” That’s it. Do the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who vote for the HOF, exclude players who did not test positive but are perceived to have taken drugs? We can all agree that taking steroids or other performance enhancing drugs is cheating. But the Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving baseball history.
“I think you have to judge people for the era they were in,” said former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in 2005. “Unless all the facts are in, speculation is a waste of time. You’ll never be able to go back and figure out who did what for sure. I’m not condoning it at all. As long as there is competitive athletics and people can get away with things, they’ll try to get a competitive edge.”
Where do you stand? Should Sammy Sosa be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame?
– Carrie Muskat