Roger Clemens had a great statistical career from 1984 to 2007, compiling a 354-184 record and a career 3.12 ERA. Obviously, these numbers are Hall of Fame worthy, but as baseball has shown in its long history, cheaters do not come out ahead.
Since when is (alleged) cheating rewarded? In the 138 years of baseball, it sure hasn’t been. Two prominent examples come to mind. The first was a team-wide scandal in 1919. You may know them as the Black Sox. Eight players from the heavily favored Chicago White Sox were accused of throwing the World Series, shaming the game and taking money from gamblers. They had their reasons, but that is beside the point. Even though the players were acquitted in court, they are all still banned from baseball, all these years later.
The other case is Pete Rose. Rose, while playing baseball earned the nickname “Charlie Hustle”. He was the epitome of how the game was supposed to be played. The hard-nosed Rose is the all-time leader in hits with 4,256, which is 67 more than Ty Cobb (played from 1905-1928) and 485 more than the third person on the list, Hank Aaron, whom many still consider to be the all-time home run leader. But that’s a different article entirely.
More from Climbing Tal's Hill
- Just how much better is the Houston Astros playoff rotation than the rest?
- Houston Astros: A Lineup Change to Spark Offense
- Astros prospect Hunter Brown throws 6 shutout innings in debut
- Always faithful Astros World Series champion Josh Reddick defends the title
- Michael Conforto declines Astros’ 2-year, $30 million offer
The point with Pete Rose is that he has also been banned from baseball for life, due to his alleged gambling on teams that he managed, after his playing career was over. Does Pete Rose the player have every right to be in the Hall of Fame? Absolutely. Yet, it was his actions, and their affect on the game, that have led to his lifetime ban.
A contemporary of Clemens’, Greg Maddux, finished with one more win (in one less season), and a slightly higher 3.16 career ERA. Maddux was inducted into the Hall this past summer. While the two are comparable statistically, Maddux, to my recollection, never threw a bat at Mike Piazza (or anyone else for that matter) and has never been linked in any way to steroids. Statistically, Clemens belongs in the Hall, but it is his superfluous actions that may lead to his exclusion.
David wrote a piece (linked below) about why Clemens SHOULD be in the Hall yesterday. In it, he mentions Pud Galvin, who took the steroids of his day and pitched a shutout the game after the enhancement. In 1889, Galvin took a serum of animal testicles that supposedly fueled this shutout performance. It could be that the serum simply acted as a placebo, which gave Galvin the confidence he needed to perform well on that fateful day. Baseball is half mental, after all.
Galvin also finished that season with a 4.17 ERA. Tim Lincecum has pitched no-hitters each of the last two seasons. He has finished those seasons with ERAs of 4.37 and 4.74 respectively. A pitcher can “show up” for one game and enter the history books. In Lincecum’s case, he pitched better (than Galvin) on one momentous day, but also had a worse season overall than Pud–twice. For Galvin, his momentous day just happened to be the start after his steroid-of-the-day foray. David points out that Galvin is a PED user (of the time) that made it into the Hall. While technically true, the steroids of today are much more potent than animal testicles.
Some will argue that Roger Clemens has never been convicted of taking steroids, or any other PEDs, and that he’s passed every test. That may be true, but even Craig Biggio, a player who has never been connected with steroids, was kept out of the Hall of Fame last go around because he played in the same era as those that did. While Biggio will almost certainly get in when the next vote occurs, there is a strong precedent for players like Clemens to be kept out of the halls because of the company they keep. Shoeless Joe Jackson was banned from baseball in 1919, even though it could be argued that he wasn’t in on the fix. At the moment, it appears as if the only way Clemens and others of the era get in is if they are in a special wing dedicated to that time in baseball history. The greats of the Steroid Era could truly be remembered for the company they have kept.