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Who Should Be Elected to Baseball’s Hall of Fame? — Sports Survey of the Day

Bonds, Clemens, Piazza, Biggio, Sosa, Schilling
Dino Vournas, Otto Greule Jr. (2), Ezra Shaw, Vincent Laforet, Al Bello / Getty Images

On Wednesday, baseball’s Hall of Fame will announce the players who comprise the 2013 class of inductees—or they will announce that no one has surpassed the 75 percent voting mark required for induction. Which would be remarkable, given that some of the greatest players ever to step on a baseball diamond are on the ballot this year. So why the uncertainty? Steroids, of course.

This year’s ballot of candidates features some extraordinary players appearing for the first time—extraordinary both in their talents and the controversy their careers generated. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, two of the very best ever to play the game, headline this year’s class of first-time nominees, followed closely by Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Curt Schilling and Craig Biggio.

Bonds, Clemens and Sosa all figure prominently in any discussion of baseball’s so-called steroid era of the mid- to late 1990s and early 2000s. Bonds is baseball’s all-time home run king, owning both the single-season record (73) and the career record (762). But if you ask some people, they’ll tell you those “records” are illegitimate and should be marked with an asterisk or, better yet, stricken from the history books entirely due to Bonds’ steroid usage.

Roger Clemens was the most prominent name to appear the Mitchell Report, which investigated the use of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs in Major League Baseball. The seven-time Cy Young-award winner fought the PED accusations vigorously, and was even accused of perjuring himself before Congress, when he swore he had never used PEDs. He was found not guilty on all counts, but that hasn’t persuaded some voters.

Sosa, whose career never reached the heights of Bonds’ and Clemens’, is even less likely to reach Cooperstown. The only player ever to hit 60 home runs three different times, Sosa will also be remembered for somewhat hilariously pretending not to understand English when he was brought before Congress in 2005. His lawyer testified on his behalf, saying that he had never taken steroids.

Piazza, regarded by many as the greatest hitting catcher of all time, never tested positive for PED usage, but the occasional rumor still swirled about him. Schilling and Biggio are generally considered “clean” players, and each has a solid, but not slam-dunk case for Hall of Fame induction. Schilling had 3,118 career strikeouts; every eligible pitcher who reached the 3,000 mark is in the Hall. Biggio was an all-star at multiple positions and passed the 3,000-hit milestone.

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