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Chicago Sun-Times' Rick Telander on BBWAA Stance on Steroid Era Players

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Rick Telander wrote an interesting piece in Sunday's Chicago Sun-Times on the position on the Baseball Writers' Association Of America's who agreed not to even talk about the possibility of coming up with a way to consider the eligibility of the steroid-era players.

"And it seems to me -- despite years of dealing with gamblers, drunks, coke fiends and speed freaks -- we have met our match with candidates from the performance-enhancing-drug era.

If we voters keep all the steroid users and suspected steroid users out, we will have a bizarrely misshapen Hall, as well as one that might have punished the innocent and rewarded the guilty.

If we put them in, what have we done?

Mark McGwire, who retired after the 2001 season, was a 12-time All-Star who finished among the top 10 in MVP balloting five times, as well as ranking eighth all-time in home runs (583), ninth all-time in slugging percentage (.588) and first in at-bats per home run (13.1). He got 22 percent of the votes last year.

He never will get in. He's the crash-test dummy.

Yet McGwire never flunked a drug test, never admitted to anything, never had his name on any revealed doper list."

Telander goes on to consider his vote last year for Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice, both of whom made it. Telander says he is haunted by the fact that he no longer will know who was clean and who wasn't.

Bud Selig, Donald Fehr and say-nothing players, managers and general managers from the last 20 years have laid this conundrum in the laps of the writers.

Hence, I thought proposing that a group of BBWAA voters getting together with Hall of Fame representatives to discuss solutions or guidelines would be worthwhile.

Nothing binding. Nobody taking the vote from us. No legislation. No new rules. Just chatting. Just acknowledging the elephant in the room. And if anything came of the process, the results could be presented to the BBWAA as a whole, and there could be more talk. Maybe another vote. Maybe not.

But my idea was shot down in a meeting with about 20 attending local members in a conference room at U.S. Cellular Field in June.

Then it was shot down in a 30-25 vote Tuesday at the national meeting before the All-Star Game in St. Louis.

OK. Democratic process. I surrender.

As Telander sees it-

Here's the problem in a nutshell: Can you imagine a Hall of Fame without perhaps the greatest offensive player -- Bonds -- and greatest pitcher -- Clemens -- in it?

Can you imagine a Hall with them in it?

You can feel Telander's frustration at the BBWAA's decision not to even discuss what to do in the future as these players become eligible? Will all these other players meet the same fate as McGwire, who seems to have already been found guilty in the court of public opinion? What explains the writer's refusal to even debate the issue amongst themselves? What has to happen for this debate to be renewed?

For more of Telander's article, go to The Chicago Sun-Times.