The Hall of Fame ballot for 2011 was announced the other day. But it wasn't announced with the usual press release. The opening line of the piece reads: "Suspected steroid users Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez are on baseball's Hall of Fame ballot for the first time... " The Fan's first thought upon reading that sentence was, "Oh, for crying out loud." What a negligent way of putting a news story out there. Here's why.
First, starting the article with such a negative connotation takes away from the honest (perhaps) contributions of those on the ballot who did not do anything wrong. Instead of celebrating their careers and talking about their Hall of Fame contributions, we are immediately slapped across the forehead with that opening line. What a disservice to all the players on the ballot by featuring a couple of tainted players.
And secondly, PED users have become the new sex offenders of baseball. There must be a database somewhere that automatically spits out these people's names every time they are mentioned in public. "Rafael Palmeiro"... EEEEHHHHHTTTT....BEEP BEEP...[[siren goes off]]. There must be some Internet code created to put that information along side each of their names whenever they are mentioned.
We have always done this in America, haven't we? That's why the Scarlett Letter is one of our most famous works of literature. We love nothing better than putting labels on people. Mention a director of motion pictures and immediately comes: "Blacklisted in the 1950s." Pamela Anderson...former Baywatch star." "Halderman - part of the Watergate scandal." "Joe Jackson - Member of the 1919 Black Sox team." How long do people have to carry these letters on their foreheads?
Do you think Mark McGwire's name will ever be mentioned in print again without some sort of disclaimer? And at least get the fact straight when you do bring it up. Palmeiro wasn't a suspected user. He tested positive and admitted using. Same for McGwire and several others. "Suspected" paints a picture of tension hanging over the person's head. Palmeiro is already "outed" and is either wallowing in guilt or is laughing with all his millions. Who cares!?
As for Juan Gonzalez, this Fan can't remember if he was in the Mitchell Report or not. If he is, he's not "suspected." If he isn't, then he IS suspected, but unless we have proof, we should just shut up about it. How many posts will be written between now and the announcement of the Hall vote about whether or not Bagwell was a user.
Lord knows, the Fan knows he is spitting into the wind here. This stuff is going to happen from now until who knows when. Probably when McGwire passes away fifty years from now, the story will mention it. Probably what set the Fan off so much on this particular day was that the story led off so blatantly with that theme when it really should have been about Burt Blyleven and Robbie Alomar and some other worthy contenders. It should have celebrated their careers instead of putting them all on the same floor with the dregs of baseball's reputations. It was a shameful excuse for reporting.