Boston Red Sox

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10: David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox tips his cap after the Cleveland Indians defeated the Boston Red Sox 4-3 in game three of the American League Divison Series to advance to the American League Championship Series at Fenway Park on October 10, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

All is right in the baseball world. OK, so not even close to “all” but there’s at least one thing that’s right. And that is that Red Sox legend David Ortiz has been elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There’s a chance we look back on Ortiz’s enshrinement in Cooperstown as a major breakthrough for the Hall. He’s not the first designated hitter to be inducted – that would be Edgar Martinez – but he’s the firstso-called “steroid guy” to bypass the self-important gatekeeping that ultimately kept clear Hall of Famers like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out (more on them later).

And all we ever even had on Ortiz was that he once tested positive for a banned substance in 2003, and the substance in question wasn’t even confirmed in the first place. The point, here, is that Ortiz proved his greatness over and over with his transcendent October resume, and probably would’ve proven it with or without steroids. So, good on the baseball voters (most of them, anyway) for doing the right thing and granting a Hall of Fame plaque to the guy who was arguably the face of baseball throughout his Red Sox career.

It’s promising to see that they’ve let that positive test slide and put him in alongside those other, totally clean Hall of Famers who just somehow hit a ton of home runs right at the height of the steroid era. It’s remarkable when you think about it that Ken Griffey Jr., Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Mike Piazza, Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Larry Walker somehow matched all those filthy steroid guys homer-for-homer right in the ’90s and 2000s, and did it completely naturally.

Snark aside, it’s about time that people start voting in players for their talent and what they meant to the history of the game. That’s ostensibly their main goal, to “preserve baseball history.” It’s impossible to tell the story of the game of baseball without David Ortiz.

For that matter, you can’t tell the story of baseball without Bonds or Clemens, either. So it’s unfortunate that they got snubbed, while they’re waving in the “very good” like Wendell Kim (RIP). Mike Mussina, Craig Biggio, and Bert Blyleven are Hall of Famers but Bonds, Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, and maybe Ortiz are not? That’s a shame.

Anyway, end rant. Ortiz was the only one officially voted into Cooperstown on Tuesday, while several notable others missed out. Here’s more on the biggest names.

  • Barry Bonds

    28 May 2001: Barry Bonds #25 of the San Francisco Giants watches his hit during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, California. Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 2-1.Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck/Allsport

    28 May 2001: Barry Bonds #25 of the San Francisco Giants watches his hit during the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, California. Diamondbacks defeated the Giants 2-1.Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck/Allsport

    Arguably the single greatest player in the history of the game. By 1999. Not a Hall of Famer.

    It’s possible that the Eras Committee (formerly known as the Veterans Committee) does its best to correct the errors of stodgy (and now inconsistent) baseball writers and someday elect Bonds to the Hall of Fame through their process. Jack Morris is now a Hall of Famer because of the Eras Committee.

    But it’s a joke that this would need to happen in the first place. Bonds’ contributions to the history of the game reached Hall of Fame levels ostensibly before he got greedy with PEDs. You could argue that he only became the all-time home run champion because of steroids, but definitely couldn’t argue that PEDs were the only reason he was good in the first place. He was an obvious Hall of Fame talent.

  • Roger Clemens

    Roger Clemens, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox on the mound during the Major League Baseball American League West game against the Oakland Athletics on 27 August 1995 at the OaklandAlameda County Coliseumn, Oakland, California, United States. The Red Sox won the game 4 - 1 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images)

    Roger Clemens, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox on the mound during the Major League Baseball American League West game against the Oakland Athletics on 27 August 1995 at the OaklandAlameda County Coliseumn, Oakland, California, United States. The Red Sox won the game 4 – 1 (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Allsport/Getty Images)

    Bonds, but on the mound. Clemens won seven Cy Young awards, and perhaps a few of those came after he juiced up. But the guy was a horse by age 23, won an MVP award in 1986, and finished with 354 career wins.

    Clemens’ extended legal troubles related to steroid use were a black mark on his career. His years-long insistence that he did nothing wrong was the worst of looks. But keeping a talent of his caliber out of the Hall of Fame does more to hurt their credibility than his.

  • Manny Ramirez

    BOSTON - OCTOBER 23: Manny Ramirez #24 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during game one of the 2004 World Series on October 23, 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    BOSTON – OCTOBER 23: Manny Ramirez #24 of the Boston Red Sox bats against the St. Louis Cardinals during game one of the 2004 World Series on October 23, 2004 at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    Ramirez tested positive multiple times in the post-steroid era, so that seems to have killed his case in the end. But he also didn’t get loose and fast with PEDs until late in his career, when he wasn’t the same player either way, and had already left his mark on the game.

    Anyone who watched Manny hit knows how great he was at the plate. His swing was arguably the most fluid ever seen. He was smart and disciplined. He hit to all fields. He hit in the clutch. Ramirez was a true savant when it came to hitting.

    Not a Hall of Famer, somehow. But perhaps he could be a candidate for the Eras Committee down the road.

  • Alex Rodriguez

    BRONX, NY - APRIL 9: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees bats during their opening home game against the Chicago White Sox on April 9, 2004 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The White Sox won 9-3. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    BRONX, NY – APRIL 9: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees bats during their opening home game against the Chicago White Sox on April 9, 2004 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The White Sox won 9-3. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    Another guy who got too greedy with PEDs after they were effectively banned from the game. But A-Rod was a stud from the second he stepped onto a professional baseball diamond. If you watched him play, you know how much of a force he was in all areas of the game. He underachieved in the playoffs, but that’s no reason to keep him out of Cooperstown.

    This was only his first year on the ballot, though, so Rodriguez has time to build up votes from mind-changers and new blood among the voters. He’s become more likable in his post-playing career, which you can’t really say about guys like Bonds or Clemens. So this exclusion isn’t as egregious as the others.

    If he goes all 10 years without getting in, though…

  • Curt Schilling

    ST LOUIS - OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Pedro Martinez #45, Curt Schilling #38 and David Ortiz 34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in game four of the World Series on October 27, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

    ST LOUIS – OCTOBER 27: (L-R) Pedro Martinez #45, Curt Schilling #38 and David Ortiz 34 of the Boston Red Sox celebrate after defeating the St. Louis Cardinals 3-0 in game four of the World Series on October 27, 2004 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

    Schilling was always a fascinating borderline case, as long as you’re looking at it in purely baseball terms. He never won a Cy Young award and wasn’t really a superstar until the latter years of his career in Boston and Arizona … of course, during the steroid era.

    The case for Schilling was based on his postseason accomplishments. He’s arguably the best big-game pitcher baseball has ever had. He shared the World Series MVP award with Randy Johnson in 2001, and also they were also named Sports Illustrated’s Sportsmen of the Year.

    Schilling’s bloody sock from Game 6 of the 2004 American League Championship Series is in Cooperstown, so I suppose that’s good enough. Schilling himself basically tried to pull himself off the ballot, anyway. So all is fair.

  • Sammy Sosa

    9 Mar 1999: Outfielder Sammy Sosa #21 of the Chicago Cubs swings at the ball during the Spring Training game against the Chicago White Sox at the HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn/Allsport

    9 Mar 1999: Outfielder Sammy Sosa #21 of the Chicago Cubs swings at the ball during the Spring Training game against the Chicago White Sox at the HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona. The Cubs defeated the White Sox 13-2. Mandatory Credit: Stephen Dunn/Allsport

    Of all the names on this list, Sosa is the one player you may be able to argue wasn’t a Hall of Fame talent without the juice. He didn’t hit 40 home runs until age 27, in 1996. He rarely hit for a high average, wasn’t particularly adept at getting on base, and was nothing special defensively.

    Basically, all Sosa did was hit the ball high and deep, and he did it right in the heart of the steroid era. So if you look at him as a player and say he’s not in the same class as Bonds, Rodriguez, Ramirez, etc., that’s a reasonable take.

    But the 1998 home run chase between Sosa and Mark McGwire is also among the most iconic stories in the history of a game rich with it. You can go to Cooperstown and check out some neat artifacts from that era, and perhaps that’s good enough with those two.

    That’s the problem, though. You truly cannot tell the story of baseball without McGwire and Sosa. And everyone who liked baseball was captivated by the home run chase that year. Steroids shouldn’t taint it. But it did, and will. Oh well.