Philip Maddocks: Rampant use of steroids may force Hall of Fame to shut down
The Baseball Hall of Fame announced yesterday that it may soon be forced to close its doors for good because "the integrity of its mission had been seriously compromised" by the release of the Mitchell Report, which linked more than 80 players, many of them among the game’s best, to the illegal use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
In a statement issued yesterday, the Hall said in the wake of the 409-page Mitchell report, and because of the Hall’s high standards for induction, that it may soon run out of Hall-of-Fame eligible players, perhaps "by this time next year or maybe the year after."
"You can’t just implicate seven MVPs and 31 All-Stars, including a seven-time Cy Young Award winner with 354 career victories, as the Mitchell Report did, and not expect that it would have a negative impact on the business of the Hall of Fame," said one employee at the Hall.
The Hall’s statement said the organization was facing its biggest challenge since Pete Rose tried to force his way onto the Hall of Fame ballot.
Commissioner Bud Selig called the statement from the Hall of Fame "a call to action, and I will act, although I’m not sure when or how."
In another statement, released following Selig’s statement, the Hall urged the commissioner not to take any more action, saying it feared that "another Mitchell-like report" would almost certainly result in the museum’s immediate dissolution.
In his own statement, Rose, who holds the major-league record for career hits but has been banned from induction into the Hall of Fame because he gambled on baseball games while a player and manager, said the Hall needed to relax its "unrealistic standards" if it wanted to survive and remain relevant.
"Look, I don’t have to tell you the public has lowered its standards for presidential candidates," he wrote. "Should baseball players be held to a higher standard than presidential candidates just because they make more money?"
If the Hall reversed its decision and decided to allow Rose’s name on the ballot, the former National League MVP and World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee, promised to chokeslam someone during his induction and "bet big on the outcome."
In its statement, the Hall said it was considering one suggestion made in the Mitchell Report, following the report’s lead in dubbing the period roughly from 1988 to the present the "Steroids Era."
One Hall of Fame executive said there had already been discussions about setting up a "Steroids Wing" at the Hall documenting the use and abuse of performance enhancing drugs in the sport.
Exhibits planned for the new wing were expected to include syringes marked with asterisks, bottles of Sustanon 250 and Deca-Durabolin, and a hologram of a human buttocks.
There was also talk of setting up a traveling exhibit that would be titled "The Toys of Summer" and tour 90 cities in 30 days because a "juiced up" exhibit needs less recovery time.
Some at the Hall of Fame were also lobbying for a new recognition, the Brian McNamee Award for excellence in testifying, named for the former New York Yankees major league strength and conditioning coach who featured prominently in the Mitchell Report.
"Ten years ago, I don’t think this was anything any of us imagined we would be doing," the Hall executive said. "But times change and the Hall has to change with them if it hopes to survive."
Former baseball star Jose Canseco, the author of "Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant 'Roids, Smash Hits, and How Baseball Got Big" and an admitted steroids user, said baseball commissioner could have saved the game a lot of time and millions of dollars if he had just read "Juiced" instead of hiring former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell and his law firm to reveal what was already in plain sight on the pages of the book. However, he did praise the Mitchell Report for citing ‘Juiced" and mentioning his name 105 times, more than any other player singled out in the report.
Canseco said he was planning to open his own baseball Hall of Fame in order to acknowledge the accomplishments of himself and other stars of his era who are being overlooked by the current Hall.
"I know some people are going to say that I am doing this for my own self-aggrandizement — and they would be right," Canseco said. "But what I say to them is, judge me by my work. You will not find any evidence that I am not biased or have not given myself special treatment. That’s how this game is played, and if someone wants to pay me $20 million to investigate that, I’m listening."
Philip Maddocks can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.