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January 5, 2011 at 7:20 PM

Hall of Fame president says he’s pleased with dilligence shown by voters over steroids issue

Well, this was certainly an interesting interview conducted by Joe Posnanski today with National Baseball Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson. In the interview, Idelson is asked for his views on whether he thinks baseball writers are handling their vote in the right way when it comes to screening candidates who have been caught taking or linked to performance enhancing drugs.
Today’s vote saw first-timer Rafael Palmeiro limited to just 11 percent of the ballot, while Mark McGwire slipped down to 19.8 percent and Juan Gonzalez barely stayed alive at 5.2 percent. Jeff Bagwell , whose only connection to performance enhancing drugs has been through rumors and suspicion, notched 41.7 percent.
Idelson indicated that he was more than pleased with how voters have tackled the issue and seem to be upholding the ballot directive that states:
Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.
Here’s what Idelson said: “Baseball has historically been held to a very high standard, right or wrong,” he says. “There’s a certain integrity required when it comes to baseball’s highest honor, which is being inducted into the Hall of Fame. The character clause exists as it relates to the game on the field. The character clause isn’t there to evaluate and judge players socially. It’s there to relate to the game on the field. … The voters should have the freedom to measure that however they see fit.”
In fact, the quotes from Idelson about how comfortable he is with what voters have done now lead Posnanski to believe that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens may never get into the hall of Fame. I’d have to agree with that. The message sent by voters today was pretty strong.
Photo Credit: AP

When Posnanski asked Idelson how the Hall of Fame would feel if some of the greatest players of the past 20 years were kept out, here’s what he had to say.
“There’s always going to be arguments about who’s in,” he says. “Only 1% of all players are making it to Cooperstown. Am I worried that this era will be under-represented? No. I mean, you have a set of guidelines and rules in place. … I think we are happy with the way the voting has gone, we’re happy with the diligence of the voters who have participated, and the chips will fall as they fall.”
I’ll let you read the rest on your own. But this is a pretty important interview. Maybe even an historic one. Because the president of the Hall of Fame seems to be giving voters carte blanche to continue to do what they have been doing: imposing their interpretations of on-field character issues and making some harsh judgment calls on players from the Steroids era.
We’ve heard from fans and plenty of media on this issue. But never from the top guy running the show at Cooperstown. Now we have. It’s going to be an interesting few years to come.



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