David Murphy of the Philadelphia Daily News pens a nice column about the silliness and self-importance of Hall of Fame voters who seek to use their vote as though it were being cast in some referendum about the Steroid Era. His key point:
The reality of the situation is that baseball has already decided what voters should do, and any writer who attempts to argue otherwise is simply attempting to add a level of power to his vote that does not exist (and, frankly, that should not exist for anybody who considers themselves a journalist). The fact that baseball has deemed players like Bonds, Palmeiro, Sosa and Mark McGwire eligible of being on the Hall of Fame ballot means that they have deemed said players eligible for the Hall of Fame. It’s that simple.
And Murphy hits the nail on the head when it comes to the hand-wringers, who he says “have a little bit of drama queen inside of them”:
Writers who view this election as some sort of existential dilemma, many of whom I respect greatly, do so only because they want to experience such a dilemma.
I roll my eyes every time I see a Hall of Fame column in which the author talks about how difficult it is to vote. About how dreadful the task has become. How he or she has had to wrestle with their conscience and how they feel the weight of blahdiblahdiblah, barf, barf, barf. In light of Murphy’s comments about writers-as-drama-queens, I’m less inclined to see these as legitimate complaints than I am to see them as baseball writers’ version of a humblebrag. “Hey, everyone, I have a Hall of Fame ballot. Now watch me grapple with the history I necessarily make!”
Pick the players you think should be in. Do what you want, but note that baseball thinks these folks are just fine, eligibility-wise. If that’s not enough for you and you think the character clause merits their exclusion, fine, exclude them. But don’t pretend that’s too hard for you. If you’re inclined to vote with your morals on this matter, do so with the conviction you would have about any moral stand and stop pretending it’s so damn agonizing.