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Adam Watts: It's time to put the 'Steroid Era' ballplayers in the Hall

On Wednesday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced three new members will be forever enshrined in the hallowed halls in Cooperstown -- Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. All three great ballplayers and all three unquestionably w...

On Wednesday, the National Baseball Hall of Fame announced three new members will be forever enshrined in the hallowed halls in Cooperstown -- Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines. All three great ballplayers and all three unquestionably worthy of the honor.

But many deserving candidates were left out.

It is an absolute travesty Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were left out yet again, not to mention Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Yeah, the PED guys should be in the hall.

These players were the true greats of their era. Sure, it was the “Steroid Era” and Major League Baseball seems dead set on erasing those years from the annals of baseball, but it doesn’t change the fact that they happened. And they happened during my childhood, my greatest period of baseball fandom.

Now, it finally looks like Bonds and Clemens are on the track to getting in, as Clemens was on 54.1 percent of voters’ ballots while Bonds appeared on 53.8 percent. They are trending upward and are projected to receive enough votes to earn induction within the next couple of years.

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But the outlook is not so great for McGwire and Sosa. Sosa received only 8.6 percent of the vote this year -- enough to keep him on the ballot for next year, but not enough to make his induction likely. Meanwhile, McGwire has long since fallen off the ballot and his only hope for enshrinement is from an election by “The Today’s Game Committee” which meets twice every five years to vote on players who retired between 1988 and today, whose eligibility on the Baseball Writers Association of America ballot has lapsed.

The steroid issue These four players are the cornerstones of an entire era of baseball. They are four of the all-time greats. Each of them should have been a no-doubt first-ballot hall of famer. But they have been held out because there is a nasty little “s” word associated with them -- steroids.

The negative stigma surrounding steroids has always baffled me. Because science advanced and allowed people to add more muscle mass to their bodies than a guy like Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, the athletes who take advantage of it are labeled evil cheaters.

Exercise science and nutrition have also advanced since the early 1900s, but nobody is getting mad at, say, Mike Trout for lifting weights, eating a proper diet and using whole-food based dietary supplements such as whey protein, creatine or fish oil. Ruth didn’t have access to any of that either, but the modern players aren’t expected to adhere to the Bambino’s diet of hot dogs and beer, while never exercising.

People say that steroids are morally wrong because they are drugs, they are synthetic, and drugs are bad. But our society isn’t morally opposed to drugs. A 2013 report conducted by the Center for Disease Control found that 48 percent of Americans said they took at least one prescription medication. Half of Americans take prescription drugs. Drugs aren’t bad -- just these ones, apparently.

And then there is the argument that the guys who used steroids were cheaters and had an unfair advantage over the “clean” players who chose to “follow the rules” and not use them. But the MLB didn’t even test for them until 2003. Any of the other players could have also used them without penalty.

Sure, they’re technically illegal in the United States, so I guess you could call them criminals, but not cheaters. And there are already plenty of criminals in the hall.

The legacies We all know about the numbers with these guys. They’re great. Just put them in.

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Barry Bonds may be the greatest baseball player of all time. He is the all-time home run king, with 762 and the single-season home run king with 73 in 2001. But it’s not just his power numbers that make him hall worthy.

He won eight gold glove awards, seven MVP awards, and is one of only four players to ever hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season. He is the only player to hit 500 home runs and steal 500 bases in his career -- same goes for 400-400 -- and only one of eight players to ever hit 300 and steal 300. I could go on and on about Bonds, his stats are unparalleled and just get more impressive the deeper you dig.

McGwire and Sosa had the magical 1998 season that many say saved baseball after the strike of 1994. McGwire hit 70 home runs, while Sosa hit 66. And then they went and did it all over again in ‘99, when McGwire hit 65 and Sosa hit 63. By the end of the 1999 season, McGwire and Sosa held the four greatest home run seasons of all time.

They were undoubtedly the two most famous baseball players -- and possibly people -- in the world at that time. I was seven years old in 1998 and McGwire and Sosa were my heroes. I cherished my McGwire and Sosa baseball cards and must have read the book “Sports Illustrated for Kids” published about their 1998 season about 100 times.

And neither of them were just two-year wonders. Sosa hit 609 home runs in his career, making him only the fourth player in history to top 600 career home runs at the time. And McGwire’s 583 were good for seventh when he retired -- he currently stands at 11th.

Roger Clemens won seven Cy Young awards -- the most of all time by two over Randy Johnson’s five. He was the oldest Cy Young winner, winning it at age 42 in 2004. He is ninth all-time in wins with 354 and third all-time in strikeouts with 4,672.

He is absolutely the best pitcher of his era, and was an intimidating force on the mound who terrified hitters for 24 years.

It is time for the hall of fame to end the perceived ban on steroid era players and enshrine my childhood heroes.

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