- Jim Bowden, ESPN Insider
The National Baseball Hall of Fame announced its 2012 class of inductees earlier today, and shortstop Barry Larkin was the only player elected. He is certainly deserving of the honor and should enjoy all the accolades that come with it, but much of the focus is on the players who didn't make it, such as Jeff Bagwell. Bagwell is a no-doubt Hall of Famer based on performance, but the fact that he put up big power numbers during the "steroid era" is what seems to be keeping him out, even though there is no evidence he ever used. It’s a shame, really, that on a day like this great players will be overshadowed somewhat by the discussion of performance-enhancing drugs and their impact on Hall of Fame voting.
Steroid use was so widespread during the 1990s that we'll never know exactly how many players used them and how much they used. I considered myself lucky because as far as I knew, my club was clean. I distinctly remember one Cincinnati Reds player telling me while I was general manager that “they didn’t use steroids, but maybe they should’ve. We would have won more games.”
Of course, MLB wasn't testing for PEDs back then, and even though the testing is stringent now, the PED discussion is still having a major impact on Hall of Fame debates. As a result, an entire generation of players will have no choice but to deal with steroid talk every year when voting comes up.