Mark McGwire's admission this week that he took steroids during his historic home run binge in the 1990's and early 2000's has rekindled talk of whether any of the guys who admit to cheating deserve to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Some talking heads actually believe that McGwire coming "clean" will help his case. I think it just seals the casket on any faint hope he may have had.
Since McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds and A-Rod really did hit all those homers and did drive in all those runs, we can't pretend that it never happened--like some have suggested by "not counting" records set in the Steroid Era. So why not give these tainted stars their seperate-but-equal due? That's why I am proposing the Baseball Hall of Infamy--a place where fans can pay their respects to those who brought attention to the game for all the wrong reasons.
We can build our new Hall in Cooperstown, New York--maybe across the street across town from the current Hall. It should not be on the grounds of the current Hall--so as not to taint the accomplishments of those who played by the rules. Instead of plaques, the Hall of Infamy will feature video and film clips of the inductees denying their cheating--followed by documentation of their cheating--and their eventual admissions that they broke the rules.
And what a wonderful inaugural class we will have: McGwire--who broke Roger Maris's record for homers in a season. Sosa--who gets in not only for steroid abuse to hit many of his 500-plus homers--but also a convicted corked bat user. Bonds--baseball's current all-time and single season home run record holder--who admitted to a grand jury that he may have "unknowingly" taken steroids. There's Pete Rose--baseball's all-time hits leader--who disgraced the game by betting on games he managed for the Reds. We'll also have room for Roger Clemens--whose bloody, post-steriod-shot bandages will be on display--and Raphael Palmeiro--whose finger-shaking denials of steroid use before Congress was followed less than a year later by a positive steroid test.
The old-timers get some love in our Hall of Infamy as well. Shoeless Joe Jackson for helping to throw the 1919 World Series with the Black Sox, Ty Cobb for his race baiting and dirty style of play, Gaylord Perry for admitting to loading up the ball for most of his pitching career and Kennesaw Mountain Landis--baseball's first Commissioner--for establishing the "gentlemen's agreement" that kept blacks out of baseball for decades.
We should also make room for Marvin Miller--who helped form the Major League Baseball Players Association, leading to decades of labor strife in the game--and his protege, Donald Fehr--whose refusal to allow for steroids testing led to the tainted records of the day--and whose refusal to discuss a salary cap led to the game's current inequitable financial situation, which dooms small-market teams to having a chance to win a championship once every other decade. And let's include George Steinbrenner--whose out of control spending led to the haves and have nots.
The Hall of Infamy admission will be included in your ticket to enter the original Baseball Hall of Fame. However, you will be required to tour the new Hall first--then go to honor the "real heroes" of the game. I'm pretty sure that would leave you with a much better taste in your mouth--and some hope for the future of the game.