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The Rigor of the Steroid Witch-Hunters

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This exhaustive explanation of why Jeff Bagwell — an obvious Hall of Famer on the merits — wasn’t even named on half the ballots last time does indeed contain every “reason” not to vote for him:

Jeff Bagwell played from 1991 to 2005, and he was muscular.

That’s it. We don’t don’t even have an unusual aging patterns from which a witch-hunter might infer causation; he was an excellent prospect, was steadily good, peaked at age 27, and had his last good year at age 35. There’s no reason to keep him out of the Hall of Fame, not even the really terrible reason that he used steroids.

And, yet, this collective guilt illogic on the part of the drug warriors makes perfect sense. Obviously, the idea that great players should be kept out of the Hall of Fame for violating non-enforced non-rules is going to be unsustainable in the long run. But nothing is going to end the silliness faster than someone who’s already in Cooperstown admitting that they used PEDs. (Well, there are already people in Cooperstown who used PEDs, but I mean the PEDs that are associated with a higher-offense context in which players could break records that boomers believe should permanently belong to their childhood icons.) So the fewer sluggers inducted from that era the longer sportswriters will be able to keep up the witch hunt. Players against whom there is no evidence whatsoever of steroid use are going to have to be at least temporary collateral damage in this particular front of the War on (Some Classes of People Who Use Some) Drugs.

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