This year’s class of first-year ballot MLB Hall of Fame eligible players may be the most controversial in baseball history. Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds all made the cut as first timers in the newly released 2012 National Hall of Fame ballot. But do they belong in Cooperstown despite drug allegations that may have tainted their huge numbers?
We talked to John Avello, sportsbook director at the Wynn in Las Vegas, about which alleged “juicer” has the best hypothetical odds to be inducted into Cooperstown on July 28.
“The odds of any of those guys getting in on the first try are like hitting the $588-million Powerball lottery," Avello joked. “But if I absolutely had to pick a favorite, it would be Roger Clemens.”
The Rocket is an 11-time All-Star and seven-time Cy Young Award winner. The 50-year-old flamethrower even made a comeback attempt with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the independent Atlantic League this year. But as we all know, his storied career has been overshadowed by PED allegations.
“He (Clemens) was cleared in court,” notes Avello. “That would bode well for him over the others.”
Clemens was acquitted this summer in federal court on six counts that he lied and obstructed Congress when he denied using PEDs.
Sammy Sosa is the only slugger to hit 60 homers in three different seasons, making him one of the most feared home run hitters of all-time.
“His career was also overshadowed by the alleged use of the juice, but I would still put him ahead of Bonds,” Avello said.
Bonds is the all-time home run king with 762 and won a record seven MVP awards. He was found guilty in 2011 by a federal court jury on one count of obstruction of justice, ruling he gave an evasive answer in 2003 regarding the distribution of illegal steroids. Bonds is known for his outspoken tirades, which has led to his perception as public enemy No. 1.
“He (Bonds) would be the frontrunner to be elected first if he was cleared of drugs,” says Avello. “He has had the most impressive career aside from the allegations.”
These three baseball greats aren’t the first players to deal with the repercussions of drug allegations. Mark McGwire, who is 10th on the career home run list with 583 and had a 70-dinger season in 1998, has never received more than 24 percent of the vote (you need 75 percent to be elected) in his six Hall tries after admitting to using steroids and human growth hormone.
Join the debate. Who do you think deserves the call to the Hall first? Or, are any of them deserving of the honor?