Hall of Fame: Thin line between Bagwell, Clemens

Hall of Fame: Thin line between Bagwell, Clemens
January 4, 2013, 12:30 pm
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Voting for Baseball’s Hall of Fame is hard.  So hard in fact, that one prominent voter literally threw his hands up and quit. (T.J. Quinn explained his groundbreaking decision last month).

Deciding who belongs in Cooperstown in the aftermath of Major League Baseball’s steroid era has made an already difficult process impossibly complex.  This year, the confusion figures to impact a pair of former Astros in their bid for immortality.

Roger Clemens’ saga began in 2007, when he was named over eighty times in the famed Mitchell Report.  This summer, a jury acquitted Clemens on all charges that he lied to Congress about using steroids.  Despite the acquittal, Clemens’ legacy is left in tatters.

Then there’s Jeff Bagwell.  The lifelong Astro was never successfully linked to steroid use, but – as with most 1990’s baseball players – rumors swirled.  Bagwell addressed the whispers head on – strongly denying any PED use - first in an interview with the Houston Chronicle in 2004, and again in 2010

During a recent appearance on SportsNet Central, Mark Zuckerman – a Hall of Fame voter and member of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America since 2001 – discussed the difference between Bagwell’s candidacy and that of Clemens.

“I know that there are some people who have not voted for him to this point because of suspicion of steroids,” Zuckerman said of Bagwell, a player he voted for on each of the last three ballots.  “But if you look at it, there just isn’t any actual concrete evidence of anything - and given the lack of that, I can’t hold a guy out based purely on suspicions.   So until somebody shows me otherwise, I’m going to keep voting for him.”

Clemens on the other hand, did not make Zuckerman’s cut.

“I know he was exonerated by the federal government for not lying to congress but for me there is still too much evidence there,” Zuckerman added.  “When it comes to Clemens, [Mark] McGuire, [Sammy] Sosa, [Barry] Bonds and [Rafael] Palmeiro, I’m just not going to vote for them yet and I think a majority of the baseball writing world is not ready to admit these guys yet.”

The Hall of Fame’s class of 2013 will be announced on Jan. 9.

What do you think… Should Clemens, Bagwell or both be enshrined in Cooperstown?