The latest group of inductees into the National Baseball Hall of Fame have been named. They are former Chicago White Sox star Jim Thome, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman, and all of them deserve the distinction.
Nevertheless, it's become more apparent Hall voters should give closer consideration to some former players who, in many ways, seem more deserving. Yes, the reputations of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Pete Rose and Joe Jackson will be forever tarnished because of links to either steroid use or illegal gambling, but their on-field performances are hard to match.
In a recent edition of this newspaper, Associated Press Sports Columnist Paul Newberry said it was time for the Hall to accept both Clemens and Bonds. Bonds holds both the single season and career record for home runs, and Clemens won seven Cy Young Awards for his pitching excellence. While they are the two biggest names associated with the game's steroids scandal, few, if any, former players can boast of such accomplishments.
When it comes to gambling, the two biggest names attached to it are Rose and Jackson. Rose is the game's all-time leader in hits with 4,256. Jackson was driven from the game prematurely after being caught up in the World Series scandal involving the 1919 Chicago "Black'' Sox, but he still batted a phenomenal .356 during a 13-year career.
While scandal will forever hang over these men's heads, there also is the view the Hall of Fame ought to be a measure of excellence on the field, and devoid of any moral judgment. There already are a lot of Hall members who would not qualify as Eagle Scouts.
Arguing there are different kinds of cheaters seems at least a bit futile. Perhaps it is time to forgive.