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Bonds and Sosa, for sure. Probably Mike Piazza, too, because his career blossomed in the steroid era and his numbers fell off precipitously after the first round of testing began.

Coincidental? Maybe. Unfair? Possibly. Unfortunately, everyone who played the last 25 years and posted big numbers has to be judged under the same cloud.

That includes Clemens, who correctly predicted in his 2008 testimony before Congress: “No matter what we discuss here today, I am never going to have my name restored.” The trial may have given him some vindication, but he won’t find many believers among fans who have listened to player after player deny using steroids, even when they’re caught by testing.

If nothing else, the wounds inflicted on baseball by steroids are just too raw to induct anyone even remotely suspicious right now. We didn’t rush to judgment on their steroid use, and there’s no need to rush to induct any of this year’s class. Why not allow a few years to go by to properly digest their role in it and see if any new evidence turns up to make the decision more clear cut?

Indeed, there may come a time in the not-so-distant future when Clemens is welcomed into the Hall of Fame, no strings attached.

That time is not now.


Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at) or