A couple of years ago, a story dropped in the FWST about how Rafael Palmeiro, the once-celebrated slugger turned pariah, the fan favorite whose legacy -- in the court of public opinion, at least -- was blown to smithereens by his positive 2005 test for stanozolol, had basically vanished from the public grid. He was living out a fairly quiet existence in Colleyville, dabbling in real estate (albeit with mixed success), and, I suppose, had arrived at a state of peace with the fact that he had been ostracized by baseball.
Not too terribly long thereafter, we discovered that a whole hell of a lot of people used PEDs, including some others from Palmeiro's era who were considered to be first-ballot HOFers. Time has passed, the prevalence of PEDs in baseball for many years before the "steroid era" has become better known (as well as the number of guys who were users, but were simply never ID'd and outed publicly), public scorn over the matter has subsided ... and, at this point, I think you could walk up a lot of baseball fans on the street and ask them about whether they would allow PED-tainted guys into the Hall, and they'd say "yeah, sure." Or "I don't care." Something like that.
I get that there are people who still care about wanting to keep the HOF 'clean,' but let's not pretend like this is a purely black-and-white issue and that guys who came through the game during the 60s-80s (or even before) were paragons of virtue who didn't attempt to improve their games through artificial means, because ... uh, yeah, they kind of did.
All of which brings us to today, as Raffy has gone public with his support for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens being inducted into the Hall:
"You're talking about, in my opinion, probably the best pitcher of all-time and the greatest player of all time," Palmeiro said. "Keep them out and then the Hall of Fame has no credibility."
[...] Palmeiro said his career numbers -- 569 home runs and 3,020 hits in a 20-year career spent mainly with the Orioles and Rangers -- don't even stack up to Clemens and Bonds, two others who played during the game's steroid era.
"We're talking a different level of player," Palmeiro said. "Clemens and Bonds, 10 years before they retired they were the best players in the game. These guys dominated the game before anything was ever mentioned about anything.
"So, it's going to be interesting. I don't know if they're going to get in or not. But I'm sure they'd say the same thing. They didn't play the game for the Hall of Fame. They played the game because they loved to play the game as kids growing up and it was their career, it was the way they made a living for their families and that's what's important."
So, there's that. I expect a healthy amount of "look at that cheater supporting other cheaters!"-type comments to crop up in response to this story, and maybe another round of morally indignant columns from the gatekeepers of the HOF (never mind that many of these same BBWAA writers once turned a blind eye to the very issue that they now hammer), but I don't exactly disagree with Raffy's overarching point. I also expect that, at some point, the old guard is going to move out, the new guard is going to move in, attitudes are going to change, and guys with no-doubt credentials like Bonds/Clemens will get their induction. It may not happen any time soon, but I'm willing to bet that it'll happen someday.
Now, I'm not sure where that leaves Raffy, given the perception that he was more of a compiler than a truly dominant player ... but, at some point, his HOF case is going to be judged more on his merits as a ballplayer than on his positive steroid test and what Jose Canseco wrote in his book.