Today is the day that Major League Baseball announces whether the Baseball Writers Association of America has voted any new members to that sport's hallowed Hall of Fame. Normally, at least one player, and often two, cross the 75% voting threshold required for entry. And this year the ballot newly features some of baseball's all-time greats: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, and Mike Piazza, among others (including failed crony capitalist Curt Schilling).
But since many of those names, plus others languishing on the ballot (like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro) are associated with steroid use (even, as in the case of Piazza, purely on the speculative rumor level), it's turning out that this historically great collection of talent may paradoxically be the first ballot since 1996 to be shut out of the Hall.
Why should non-baseball fans care? For one, because the subject of "performance-enhancing drugs" is rich with weird societal phobias that inevitably lead to government abuses of power (against high school students in addition to famous athletes). For an example of the contortions these prejudices put insanely competitive humans through, well, just watch Lance Armstrong today on Oprah.
And secondly, it helps rip the mask off professional baseball nostalgiacs like legendary PBS documentarian Ken Burns, who in a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter gave this charming reason for opposing the election of Bonds, Clemens, and Piazza: "Those motherfuckers should suffer for a while."
Ironically, Burns was doing promo for his latest documentary about the Central Park Five, who were unjustly treated by a system that assumed their guilt.
Two relevant Reason.tv vids: First up, Kennedy asks, "Lance Armstrong cheated to win. Is that wrong?"
And watch Nick Gillespie interview Ken Burns about Prohibition below:
Jacob Sullum wrote about steroids and the Hall of Fame in 2009.