Barry Bonds can go for a bike ride. Roger Clemens might want to head to the gym for one of those famous workouts that used to make him pitch like he was 22 when he was 42.
If the polls are right — and my guess is they're pretty spot on — there's no need for either to wait by the phone Wednesday when baseball writers weigh in with their first verdict on what is arguably the greatest class of Hall of Fame candidates since Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth were among the inaugural inductees 77 years ago.
Bonds and Clemens won't get in, and no one else may either. In a fitting twist, the player who is most likely the leading candidate to make it is known almost as much for getting hit by pitches as hitting them himself.
Actually, Craig Biggio had 3,060 hits to go with the 285 times he got hit, and being a member of the 3,000-hit club usually guarantees a spot in Cooperstown. But in any other time the greatest home run hitter ever and only pitcher to win seven Cy Young awards would be absolute locks, too.
This, however, is as much a referendum on the Steroids Era as it is on the numbers that are so sacrosanct in baseball. This is about what people suspect players did while they were off the field, not what they accomplished while on it.
And this may be the last chance anyone has of somehow trying to make it right.
No, denying Bonds a spot in the Hall of Fame won't wipe away the bloated numbers that will almost surely scar the record books for generations to come. But it does put a giant asterisk that Bud Selig and the rest of baseball refuse to attach next to the 73 home runs he hit in one season, or the 762 he slugged through his career.
And while Clemens will keep his Cy Young awards, keeping him out of Cooperstown at least sends a message that maybe next time we won't be so easily hoodwinked again.
It shouldn't be the job of baseball writers to make the final statement about the Steroids Era; indeed some of the voters I know are quite uncomfortable with trying to sort out who did what and when. They're not the steroid police, as they often point out, and don't know any better than the guy next to them in the locker room who did what and when.
But Selig and his minions failed time and time again to confront the epidemic that swept through the game the last few decades. They used the power surge — four of the top 10 all-time home run hitters are either admitted steroid users or associated with them — to bring fans back to the ballparks who were disillusioned with baseball after a bitter strike wiped out the playoffs and the World Series in 1994.
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