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BBWAA writers should relinquish throne as HOF's moral gatekeepers

Neither Barry Bonds nor Roger Clemens, widely considered two of MLB's all-time great players, are in the Hall of Fame. Getty Images

Thom Loverro attaches a label to the writers who have changed their minds and voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

The ballot machinations have been interesting this year. Some voters hid behind the so-called character clause for years in declining to vote for Bonds, Clemens, Mike Piazza or others linked to performance-enhancing drugs, and are now reversing course without truly acknowledging a complete flip-flop or any previous mistake they've made. Which is a cop-out.

It's OK to change your mind; we all do that. But nobody should attempt to write, at least with any credibility, that the character clause should be given weight and then switch a vote on a player from the PED group.

What that really means is that voter has never actually developed a true standard for election, which has always been the core challenge. Either the character clause matters in the process, or it doesn't; there can be no middle ground on that question.

And as has been written here for years, the character clause should hold no weight, because even with current Hall of Famers, it cannot possibly apply, given the high number of people with personal flaws -- human flaws -- among the group.

For starters, the person believed to have written the character clause, former commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, worked to keep the sport segregated, and that in itself should have been enough to appraise the depth and significance of the character clause.

For the record: I stopped voting in the Hall of Fame last year. Before that, I voted for who I believed to be the best players on the ballot, regardless of PED history, for a couple of reasons:

1. There was never a way to know exactly who did what, and when, and in what volume, and ascertain a proper context for any one player's use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Yes, we know some things about what a small handful of prominent players did, like Mark McGwire, but was he one of 500 players who did something? A thousand? Maybe he was one of 10,000 or more when you include the number of minor league players (and other various circuits) attempting to elbow their way to The Show?

This is what made the Mitchell investigation and report so disgustingly abhorrent: There was absolutely no chance of reaching anything close to a necessary understanding of the scope of drug use within the sport, and yet the folks who generated that information singled out fewer than 100 in their final rendering, while knowing they were effectively demonizing the handful they threw to the mob.

Sadly, writers have done the same with the handling of the Hall of Fame voting.