Ethics and the 75 percent

roger clemens

The 75 percent  number represents the votes needed by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for a candidate to granted entry to baseball’s Hall of Fame. There were 569 ballots cast. On Wednesday, the BWAA announced that one of the greatest hitters and one of the greatest hitters in the history of baseball were denied entry.

Barry Bonds is the all-time home run leader. Roger Clemens is a seven-time Cy Young Award winner. Each received less than 40% of the votes cast. The BWAA has unequivocally decided that the use of performance enhancing drugs is a disqualifier for induction to baseball’s Hall of Fame.

Last year was the first test when Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro fell short in the vote count.  You could make some argument that they would not have made it into the Hall of Fame even if they didn’t have the stain of performance enhancing drugs.

But Bonds and Clemens would have been first sure bets to be in the Hall of Fame, if it were not for the stain of performance enhancing drugs.  Their exclusion has to be because a large portion of the voting writers believes that taking steroids means you don’t have a bust in Cooperstown.

As early as 1991, Major League Baseball took the position that steroid use was against the rules. But it was not until 2005 that MLB adopted a formal policy, began testing, and issuing penalties.

I have to admit that I’m not a big baseball fan, but I am a Red Sox fan. You have to be if you grow up in Boston. That means my heart was broken in ’86 when the Mets beat the Sox. Roger Clemens was part of that Red Sox team. Ten year later Clemens left the team in what seemed like the twilight of his career.

But then came two incredible years in Toronto. His lights out pitching earned him two more Cy Young awards in Toronto. I look back and wonder this is where Clemens went down the dark path of performance enhancing drugs. When I look at fraud cases I always try find the triggering event for when the perpetrator stepped over the line and what caused him to do so.

Clemens was acquitted of lying about his steroid use. His legal prosecution is likely over. The court of public opinion, or at least the opinions of BWAA voters, stil consider him guilty.