- We all understand that the Hall of Fame voters, as a group, have little sympathy or respect for steroid users. McGwire’s historic home run pace registers less than 25% approval rating among voters. Rafael Palmeiro put up obscene career numbers — 3,000 hits, 550 homers, more than 1,800 RBIs — but his Hall of Fame case seems dead on arrival. There will be many people who will not vote for Barry Bonds, despite his 762 career home runs and five-year span as the greatest hitter the game ever saw. We all know that.
So what about Frank Thomas? If you assume he was clean -- and it seems a pretty good assumption -- then how can you possibly NOT vote for him? Here is somebody who represented the highest level of integrity at a time when there was no drug testing, no stigma attached to steroid use and almost no chance of getting caught. Here is somebody who not only did not use steroids but spoke out against them … AND he still hit like crazy.
There are so many inconsistencies in how we as the general public seem to feel about PEDs in baseball. But one thing that should be consistent -- it seems to me that if we are going to savage the players who did use, we should certainly seek out and celebrate the players who did not.
One of the things I love in journalism are headlines with questions in them … especially questions that can easily be answered. So when I see the headline: “Is Frank Thomas a Hall of Famer?” I hope that the story does not have 2,096 words like this one. It only needs one word: Yes.
The other day I asked my Twitter followers who they would vote for, if they could vote for only one: Tom Glavine or Frank Thomas. The result was a landslide: Thomas 70, Glavine 28. Nevertheless, I suspect that when the actual Hall of Fame balloting comes out in four years, Glavine will outpoint Thomas and I'm not even sure that Thomas will be elected on his first try. After all, that ballot will also include first-timers Greg Maddux, Mike Mussina, and Jeff Kent, and the list of holdovers might include Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa and Mike Piazza. Will the voters separate Thomas from all the other guys who piled up big numbers during the Steroid Era? I don't know. I do believe that Thomas will eventually be elected. I just don't know if it will happen as quickly as those 70 Twitterers -- plus Joe Posnanski and Rob Neyer -- think it should.