- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 31, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The ballots are in for the Baseball Hall of Fame, and soon the results will be announced.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will not get in. But don’t worry about them — they’ve got the No Justice/No Peace wing of the Baseball Writers Association of America fighting for them.

In a movement that may soon have the hashtag #steroidnumbersmatter, a number of voters publicly have admitted to voting for the two greatest heroes of the Cheated Generation — perhaps more than in past ballots.

In some cases, those voters changed their positions from previous years — as if Barry Bonds admitting using “the cream” and “the clear” in grand jury testimony has somehow changed, or the report presented by a former U.S. Senator who brokered peace in Northern Ireland that named Roger Clemens as its star cheater has somehow become less credible.

Me? Neither of them get my vote — just like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and anyone else who is either an admitted performance-enhancing drug user or has been named in court documents or other credible sources don’t get my vote.

There are six criteria for election to Cooperstown, under the rules of the Hall of Fame. Three of them are sportsmanship, integrity and character. I chose to take those seriously. You can say there are all kinds of cheaters, reprobates and weasels in Cooperstown — which had nothing to do with my vote. I didn’t vote for any of them, and I am not bound by every vote that has taken place before me.

It is up to the voter how much they want to weigh each of the criteria. I chose to take them seriously.

The Cheated Generation voters will cry, “How can you make judgments about candidates like Bonds and Clemens if you don’t know about everyone?”

Think about that for a second. Imagine how the wheels of justice would grind to a halt if it operated under that system — you can’t pass judgment on those who you know committed a crime unless you know about the rest of the population in question.

I made my ballot public weeks ago on social media — Jeff Bagwell, Ken Griffey Jr., Trevor Hoffman, Edgar Martinez, Fred McGriff, Mike Mussina, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Alan Trammell — nine, and you are allowed to vote for 10.

For the No Justice/No Peace wing of the BBWAA, limiting your ballot to 10 has suddenly become a challenge of sorts. The issue, of course, is that as new players get added to the ballot each year when they become eligible — Griffey this year, Chipper Jones next year — the opportunities for Bonds, Clemens and others to get the required 75 percent of the vote for induction in Cooperstown lessen.

The first year they were eligible in 2013, Clemens received 37.6 percent of the vote, while Bonds garnered 36.2 percent. Last year, they dropped — Clemens to 35.4 percent and Bonds to 34.7 percent. But those results are expected to rise, however slightly, as the #steroidnumbersmatter movement gains supporters and the Cheated Generation becomes more vocal.

When I released my ballot, I received the typical amount of hate reaction from Cheated Generation fans, as has become the case for voting for the Hall of Fame — baseball’s version of sitting on the O.J. jury — for leaving Bonds and Clemens off the ballot. Somehow, I managed to not break down from the attacks.

And, if somehow, Bonds and Clemens wind up elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, I won’t break down either. I won’t cry about the unfair process or balloting. After all, what are we talking about here? A plaque — and an uncomfortable place on the stage during induction weekend along with Hall of Famers that have made it clear they don’t want either of them up there with them.

Ryne Sandberg spoke for many in Cooperstown in his 2005 induction speech when he talked about playing the game “the right way” and reiterated that in a 2013 interview with MLB.com, when he said, “baseball is based on numbers, and I believe that any tainted numbers do not belong in the Hall of Fame.”

A plaque — and a seat on the stage once a year where they are not wanted.

But at least a terrible injustice will have been corrected. Steroid numbers will finally matter.

⦁ Thom Loverro is co-host of “The Sports Fix,” noon to 2 p.m. daily on ESPN 980 and espn980.com.

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