The backlash against PED users was in full force when Rafael Palmeiro was on the Hall of Fame ballot. Now that the stance has softened against those players, Palmeiro deserves another look.
Based on his career totals, Rafael Palmeiro was a Hall of Fame caliber player. He finished with 3020 hits and 569 home runs, numbers that typically result in enshrinement in Cooperstown. A four time All Star, Palmeiro was more than just a hitter, winning three Gold Glove awards at first as well. Although he was more of a compiler than a dominant player, Palmeiro still finished his career having reached those marks that all but ensure immortality.
Instead, Palmeiro became the poster boy for the backlash against PED users. He certainly did not help his cause when, after being so adamant about never using PEDs and wagging his finger in front of Congress, he failed a drug test. Palmeiro never received more than 12.6% of the vote, and in 2014, was dropped from the ballot after falling under the 5% threshold.
However, just three years later, we are in a new era. PED usage, at least during that time, is not as much of a stigma as it had been. Bud Selig and Tony LaRussa, both of whom benefited from PED usage in the game, were inducted into the Hall of Fame. We have seen Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of who saw their candidacies struggling, finally surge above the 50% mark. Manny Ramirez, who failed not one, but two, drug tests, 23.8% of the vote. The times, they are a changin’.
Unfortunately, this comes a little late for Palmeiro. His only chance of induction will be through the Veteran’s Committee, who may not be as forgiving as the BBWAA has become since he was dropped from the ballot. And yet, with that being said, it may be a blessing in disguise.
At this point, it appears as though Bonds, Clemens, and other suspected PED users will be inducted. Ramirez has decent support, and received a higher percentage of the vote than Tim Raines did in his second year on the ballot. Add in the inductions of people like LaRussa and Selig, and it is quite hypocritical to leave the players they profited from on the outside looking in as they reap those rewards.
Once one of the the top alleged PED users is inducted into the Hall, it will likely open the floodgates for others to be inducted. That sentiment could find its way to the Veteran’s Committee as well, as they would be voting upon their peers. Chances are, even if it remains unknown, several of those members could have PED ties as well. It could be a perfect storm for Palmeiro to get his due, and be enshrined in Cooperstown.