Perhaps we should not have been surprised by the letter, but Joe Morgan's unprecedented plea was still quite jarring Tuesday morning when the Baseball Hall of Famer urged Hall voters to deny entry to players linked to performance-enhancement drugs.
"By cheating, they put up huge numbers, and they made great players who didn't cheat look smaller by comparison, taking away from their achievements and consideration for the Hall of Fame". Even players who never tested positive and were never implicated in the Mitchell Report-like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell-faced opposition from voters that delayed their induction.
"These are the three criteria that numerous players and I think are right", Morgan said.
But then past year Rodriguez breezed in and Bonds and Clemens, for the first time, went over 50%, seemingly giving them a fighting a chance to achieve the necessary 75% before their eligibility is up in 2022.
Because the former major-league great's letter was sent from a Hall of Fame email address through the Hall's voter email distribution list, it marks the first time the Hall of Fame itself has been linked to an on-the-record stand on the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.
"The more we Hall-of-Famers talk about this - and we talk about it a lot - we realize we can no longer sit silent", Morgan wrote. Bonds and Clemens defenders have pointed out there are loads of cheaters in Cooperstown, from Pud Galvin and his 19th century elixir to Gaylord Perry and his spitball, and that steroids are different in degree but not kind from the amphetamines that were popular in the 1960s.
I, along with other Hall of Fame Baseball players, have the deepest respect for you and all the writers who vote to decide who enters Baseball's most hallowed shrine, the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Many of us have come to think that silence will be considered complicity. Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro both lasted only four years on the ballot, with highs of 12.6% in their second. In many ways, Selig embodied the way Major League Baseball looked the other way as Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing the single-season home run record in 1998 with - at least in McGwire's case - some help from steroids.
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Morgan was elected to the Hall in 1990, and it's clear he doesn't want to share it with any science projects, writing anopen letter on behalf of all clean members of the hall.
Morgan praised BBWAA voters and acknowledged they are facing a "tricky issue", but he also warned some Hall of Famers might not make the trip to Cooperstown if steroid users are elected.
"The cheating that tainted an era now risks tainting the Hall of Fame too".
I think the Hall of Fame is special. You didn't need a written rule. Then there are other players in the Hall of Fame who have been immortalized knowing they used steroids in their careers. "I was violating the principles that were laid down within the rules".
"Times change and society improves", he said.
As Morgan said: "Taking steroids is a decision". I hope it will always remain that way.