As baseball tries to make sense of players from the steroid era who put up big numbers that may or may not have been aided by performance enhancers, we are left to see how things play out on something of a case by case basis in terms of enshrinement in the Hall of Fame.
Mounting evidence of PED use is one thing. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are still hanging around the ballot because enough writers are willing to separate out their greatness from what they are alleged to have done. It also seems like people are more comfortable assuming those two would have been great anyway (even if that shouldn’t necessarily matter).
A failed test, though, is a sure ticket to irrelevance and shame. Rafael Palmeiro became proof of that fact on Wednesday when he fell below the 5% minimum for Hall of Fame votes to remain on the ballot.
Palmeiro’s plummet shows that there are instances when the BBWAA, a group that obsesses over certain “magic” numbers, will throw those out the window. Palmeiro is one of only four players in MLB history to be a member of the 3,000 hit and the 500 home run club. That resume surely would have earned Palmeiro a plaque in Cooperstown and likely would have been good for a first ballot election under normal circumstances.
All of the numbers were undone when Palmeiro was suspended for a failed test in 2005. He will now have to wait until 2026 to be considered by the veterans committee. But hey, who knows? Maybe that will enough time for the committee to forget about this.