Bill James, after maintaining silence (well, mostly) on the subject for some years, is now ready to offer his thoughts on baseball players and performance-enhancing drugs and the Hall of Fame. Money quote:
- It seems to me that, with the passage of time, more people will come to understand that the commissioner's periodic spasms of self-righteousness do not constitute baseball law. It seems to me that the argument that it is cheating must ultimately collapse under the weight of carrying this great contradiction-that 80% of the players are cheating against the other 20% by violating some "rule” to which they never consented, which was never included in the rule books, and which for which there was no enforcement procedure. History is simply not going to see it that way.
The end of the day here is about the year 2040, perhaps 2050. It will come upon us in a flash. And, at the end of the day, Mark McGwire is going to be in the Hall of Fame, and Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa, and Rafael Palmeiro, and probably even Barry Bonds. I am not especially advocating this; I simply think that is the way it is. I only hope that, when all of these players are enshrined, they will extend a hand up to a few players from the Will Clark division of the game.
I misspoke, earlier. That's the end of Bill's essay, but it's not really the money quote. The money quote is the entire essay, which you should read, and in which Bill presents not one or two or even four, but five arguments for the eventual Hall of Fame induction of all those (currently) tainted players. While I am not wholly convinced by any particular argument, I am almost completely convinced by the sum of those arguments.
My only real quibble with Bill -- aside from his certainty that Dick Allen will make it, plus he seems to have missed Andy Pettitte's acknowledged PED use -- is that I think his timetable's off by a decade or so. I think "the end of the day" will actually come well before 2040. I think that Bonds and Clemens and probably some of the others will be elected to the Hall of Fame in the 2020s. If not earlier.