The Shadow League's Rob Parker, a baseball big dawg who's also a daily contributor on FS1's Undefeated, is a MLB Hall of Fame voter who has consistently voted for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens because "they were Hall of Famers before the juice."
And he agrees that the entire voting process is mired in subjectivity and hypocrisy, and too many players juiced to signal out a few.
Other BBWA writers who previously shunned Bonds and Clemens are now joining Parker in voting for them.
Why the sudden change in philosophy among voters?
When Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens each debuted on the writers’ ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2013, drawing roughly 35 percent of the vote apiece, some took that as a sign that the two greats would never see Cooperstown. With just 10 years to reach the necessary percentage for induction and the BBWAA voters rock solid in dissing all suspected PED legends, a decade would fly by quickly unless something drastic occurred.
The pivotal shift occurred in early December, when 15 members of the 16-man Today’s Game Era committee voted former MLB Commissioner Selig into the Hall of Fame.
“When Bud was put in two weeks ago, my mindset changed,” Kevin Cooney, a longtime Philadelphia-area writer, said in an email. “If the commissioner of the steroid era was put into the HOF by a secret committee, then I couldn’t in good faith keep those two out any longer.”
According to yahoosports.com, "(Cooney) said he saw a tweet from Susan Slusser, the esteemed San Francisco Chronicle writer, pointing out the hypocrisy of Selig and Tony La Russa – who won championships with juiced players – being in the Hall but the players themselves seemingly blackballed."
"The light bulb went off," Cooney said.
If Cooney read me here at The Shadow League, the light bulb might have gone off a few years earlier. I've rallied against inducting and exonerating the managers of the players who have been kept out of the HOF.
Many of the baseball public and writers have taken this inflexible and lofty moral position on a complicated PED issue. With that in mind, we can't now praise the cheaters who enabled and lied for the cheaters can we? I've been a consistent opponent of inducting and exonerating the managers of the players who have been kept out of the HOF.
Signs of Change
Through 66 known ballots on Ryan Thibodaux’s tracker of BBWAA members who announced their votes publicly, Bonds and Clemens each hold about 70 percent of the vote through Monday evening, just shy of the 75 percent they need to get in from the writers.
This is a significant jump from last season when Clemens got 45.2 % and Bonds received 44.3 % of the votes, as their historic achievements were still marred by writers who refuse to put baseball’s most celebrated, maligned and spectacular suspected PED cheats in the Hall of Fame, but are showing a shift in philosophy and flexibility concerning these castigated superstars.
After some internal changes in the process and eliminating some dead weight from their legion of baseball writers and voters, we are finally getting a more honest and less-orchestrated opinion of Clemens and Bonds’ obvious worthiness for induction.
“And in the minds of some writers," said Yahoo Sports columnist Jeff Passan, " who had excluded Bonds and Clemens – each inarguably among the five best hitters and pitchers, respectively, ever to play baseball – the ability to turn them away amid the enshrinement of the man who oversaw the sport felt wrong.”
And there you have it.
The BBWAA is finally discovering what The Shadow League has been saying all along, that the entire PED Era and the subsequent witch hunt orchestrated by Selig and George Mitchell’s biased Senate Committee circus was one big dog and pony show rife with conflicts of interest, betrayal of player trust and framing.
The fact that the situation was encouraged and the evacuation of immortal stars from baseball’s visible consciousness was orchestrated by Selig never sat well with me. He turned the other cheek while the dynamic hitting feats of MLB legends and accused PED cheats such as Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez and Mark McGwire helped rescue baseball from its depression following the 1994 players strike and set baseball on the path to become the billion dollar monster marketing conglomerate that it is today. Then he turned around and daggered those same superstars that he so passionately celebrated as they were breaking records and making baseball hot again.
It was only a matter of time before the BBWAA saw the light. Their refusal to budge on players such as Bonds and Clemens over the last half decade has been noble and contrary to what has been said in the past, served baseball well. The hesitance of these player’s inductions despite the mythical fortitude of their statistics was a professional and necessary stance against the entire Era. The players were the sacrificial lambs that forced the change that gave birth to the much more clean and fair game we see today.
Once Craig Biggio, John Smoltz, Randy Johnson and Mike Piazza were elected to the HOF (prominent superstars of the PED Era) in 2015 and ‘16, it was only a matter of time before the Kings of that dark and glorious golden moment in baseball history were finally given their due. And with the baseball world already inducting Big Papi into Cooperstown, despite being implicated with teammate Manny Ramirez as PED users back in 2003 as well as rumored PED cheat Jeff Bagwell receiving 91 percent of Thibodaux's early voting roundup, a power move had to be made concerning the legendary fall guys.
With the support swelling as it has for these immortals, if not this season, they will taste that Cooperstown American Pie very soon, finally and officially closing the chapter on the Era that changed baseball forever.