Hurray for the Baseball Writers Association of America!
Last week, the voting members of the organization pitched a "no no." The BBWAA cast 569 ballots and not one of the 37 eligible candidates received the required 75 percent on them to be elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.
While it marks the eighth time in history they did not elect a single inductee, this time it was a clear statement to those on the ballot with a career stained by the probability of performance enhancing drugs that their records may stand, but they may never receive their sport's greatest honor.
In fact, the players most closely associated with PEDs fell well short of the mark.
Roger Clemens, perhaps the era's most dominant pitcher, was voted on in only 37.6 percent of the ballots. Barry Bonds, the sport's home run king, got only 36.2 percent of the votes and Sammy Sosa saw his name on only 12.5 percent of the ballots.
I've been wondering. What would the reaction be if golf's professional tours were surrounded by the same rumors that stained major league baseball? Would we still invite those men or women into our hall of fame? What if it came out after the fact, after they had already been enshrined? Would we even catch them to begin with?
Many people feel that PEDs in sports such as golf are unnecessary and wouldn't help a golfer. While it is true that golfers don't want to be as muscular as a linebacker in football, not all PEDs are used for building muscles. Many are used for what golfers truly need: recovery.
I was shocked to hear that an informal poll of the world's greatest strength and conditioning coaches showed the sport with the biggest percentage of its athletes taking some form of PED is tennis. Yep, tennis.
Think about how a tennis player uses his or her body on every shot. Running, stopping, hitting the ball with tremendous force, then sprinting to the next spot to do it all again. The forces placed on their bodies are tremendous.
Now look at golf. While golfers don't have to sprint around the course, stopping and changing directions every second, they do use their entire bodies to hit the ball farther than ever.
Golfers need the ability to recover day to day, week after week, from tournament play, where they endure tremendous, rotational power and stress on the spinal and muscle systems of their bodies.
Add to this the constant travel and mental stress and need to train and hone their swings, and it's easy to see where the temptation comes into play.
Most PEDs do not cause you to gain size and become bigger physically. To do that you need to combine a diet intended to increase your muscle size, as well as strength. So it is quite possible to gain strength without looking like a linebacker.
Some drugs help your visual acuity. This could easily help a player judge distances on chips and finesse shots. It would also help greatly when reading the break on a putt and picking up subtle undulations.
So how is our own PGA Tour making sure that the field is even and free from players using PEDs? Truth is, they cannot really be certain and I'm not convinced that they want it to be.
For starters, the PGA Tour uses urine samples to test players. This is, by far, the easiest test to fool and pass. They may just as well ask the players if they are taking PEDs. After all, golf is a sport of honor, right?
So why would players risk being caught and called cheats? One simple word: money. Playing professional golf could very well make you a millionaire. Play on tour a few years, win a few events, pick up a few endorsement contracts and you could be set for life by the time you're in your mid-30s. Pretty tempting, especially if you are convinced that the guys you are competing against are likely using PEDs to gain an advantage.
Do you really want PED-free professional golf or would you be happy knowing only the idiots are being caught?
Sure PEDs won't make you a tour-level golfer, but they may make you a better golfer regardless. If you want a truly clean sport, you're likely not going to get it, but you better call for a better way to test for it. With the known and unknown side-effects drugs have on the human body, perhaps the real question is, "Is money really everything?"
James Stammer has been an avid golfer and golf enthusiast for nearly 40 years. He hosts the Thursday night golf show on WSTU 1450-AM. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.