A Proposed Petition to the Hall of Fame to Remove the BBWAA as Electors

By: Brian Mangan

The Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, New York, was founded in the 1930’s, and since then has done an excellent job of living up to its motto, “Preserving History, Honoring Excellence, Connecting Generations.”  Over the years, the Hall of Fame has enshrined hundreds of players and coaches, thousands of artifacts, documented the history of the game (including the Negro Leagues) and has touched the lives of countless baseball fans.

However, over the last decade or so, bitter controversy has surrounded the Hall of Fame as writers and fans debate the use or alleged use (or, in many cases, merely rumors of use) of performance enhancing drugs by former Major League players currently on the ballot.

Ever since the first Hall of Fame year in 1936, the body responsible for voting has been the Baseball Writers Association of America (“BBWAA”).  Although the rules have changed over the years, and other special committees (such as the Veterans Committee) can sometimes enshrine players, the BBWAA has been the only entity authorized to engage in this sacred responsibility.

Unfortunately, since the onset of this steroid crisis, the BBWAA as a whole has been acting in an unfair, arbitrary and/or capricious manner in choosing chosen to elect or exclude particular players currently eligible for the Hall. This is due to the fact that the BBWAA itself is directly and inextricably linked with the problem of steroids in baseball, having overseen the sport and having failed to report on the issue for the decades in which they covered it.

In reality, steroids have been part of the landscape of competitive athletics for half a century. However, when steroids allegedly ran rampant throughout the game of baseball, the BBWAA knowingly ignored the issue and refused to report on it. Instead, team writers happily reported on bulging muscles and the larger-than-life figures that they covered, themselves capitalizing on those feel-good stories. Baseball writers turned a blind eye to the evidence in front of them and, in some cases, even turned on the members in their own ranks that wanted to report those stories.

Grantland’s Bryan Curtis wrote an incredible article on the relationship between the writers and the players last year. I encourage you to read the entire thing. In the meantime, here was the excerpt that got me thinking about this topic:

What’s missing is a portrait of baseball writers during the Steroid Era. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America grants its nearly 600 voting members a curious privilege: They’re responsible for shaping a player’s reputation both during his career and after his retirement. They write the game story and then row the boat across the River Styx.

When a Hall voter sees the name of a PED user on his ballot, he’s not staring at an entry on Baseball-Reference.com. That same voter was also the PED user’s chronicler and idolater; he covered his fall from grace; he heard his confession. The player’s doping had a direct and often negative effect on his career. Deacon White is an abstraction. Mark McGwire is a professional trauma.

There can be no doubt about it: the BBWAA is part of the steroid mess, the organization itself irreparably tainted by the same taint that they, today, hold against the players that seek election to the Hall.

Many people do not realize this, but the BBWAA does not have an absolute right or entitlement to serve as the electors for the Hall of Fame. In fact, the BBWAA only serves at the electoral body at the consent and continued permission of the Hall of Fame, a permission that can be revoked at any time:

Authorization: By authorization of the Board of Directors of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Inc., the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) is authorized to hold an election every year for the purpose of electing members to the National Baseball Hall of Fame from the ranks of retired baseball players.

For that reason, in light of the BBWAA’s partiality and bias when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, I am writing a letter to the Hall of Fame asking them to consider removing the BBWAA as the Hall’s electoral body.

The long and short of the letter is this: the BBWAA is, itself, inextricably tied to the use of PED’s in baseball and therefore unqualified to pass judgment on the players that used while on the BBWAA’s watch.

Whether the writers abdicated their responsibility by failing to report on the steroid story is of no moment. Whether failing to report the issue was “wrong” is an issue completely separate from whether the BBWAA is inextricably linked to the players that it reported on. Failing to report on the steroid mess is not a fault on it’s own — but the hyprocisy of refusing to elect players to the Hall of Fame that may have used is unacceptable.

Indeed, even when given the opportunity to begin to rectify some of these wrongs, the BBWAA has merely doubled down, suspending Dan Le Batard for crowd-sourcing his ballot (and returning a credible result) and by reducing the number of a years a player can remain on the ballot from 15 years to 10 years.

In researching this piece, I learned that Dave Studeman over at the Hardball Times broached this topic last year. I’d encourage you to sign both my petition as well as his. Studeman’s petition is more a general request to reach a consensus on a new plan, while this is a more pointed request that the BBWAA be removed. To that end, however, Studeman acknowledged exactly what we have acknowledged here (while noting, as we do, his love for the Hall in general):

The New York Times, Washington Post and Baltimore Sun don’t allow their baseball writers to participate in the process, given the conflict of interest between writers objectively covering a player while also voting on his worthiness of the most prestigious award in the game.

A conflict of interest exists in general — and today’s steroid mess, whereby writers who condoned steroid use are now using their use (or alleged use) to keep people out of the Hall of Fame, is the obvious result.

Removing the BBWAA will not harm any of the sportswriters that currently vote for the Hall. We don’t want anyone fired, or reprimanded, or harmed. We don’t seek to humiliate or punish anyone who covered baseball throughout the Steroid Era. It is not a morality contest or a criticism of any individual. We merely would like the body which elects players to the Hall of Fame not to be unbiased. We want what is in the best interest of the Hall of Fame, the players, and the game in general. To date, those best interests are not being served.

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National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
Attn: Jane Forbes Clark, Chairman
25 Main Street
Cooperstown, NY 13326

Re: Fans’ Petition to Remove the Baseball Writers’ Association of America as the Electors for the Baseball Hall of Fame

Dear Ms. Jane Forbes Clark:

The Hall of Fame is experiencing a crisis. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America (“BBWAA”), the body authorized by your rules to elect members to the Hall of Fame, is irreparably biased and has not, for the past several years, produced just or fair election results. As a result, the Hall of Fame has been directly harmed, both economically and in spirit.

The impact of the BBWAA’s bias has produced widespread and dramatic results. Thanks to the BBWAA’s failure to elect even a single player in the Class of 2013, the Hall of Fame, whose attendance was flagging generally, had its most sparsely-attended ceremony in memory. [endnote 1]. According to the New York Times, the Hall estimated that attendance for the 2013 Induction was a paltry 2,500, well below the usual 10,000 to 15,000.[2]

The BBWAA has occasioned this harm through its failure in recent years to elect to the Hall of Fame several of the greatest ballplayers of all time, including Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, and Mike Piazza, due to lingering concerns about these players’ use of performance enhancing drugs (“PEDs” or “steroids”). Although the 2014 Hall of Fame class was strong, this is merely a temporary relief, as the debate over steroids – particularly, who used, and how to weigh steroid use as part of a player’s resume – continues to rage without an end in sight.

No discussion of the Hall of Fame would be complete without acknowledgment that the BBWAA has done an admirable job over the last seventy years as the gatekeepers to the Hall. Individual opinions may vary, which is one of the wonderful things about the Hall of Fame as an entity in general, but the outcomes produced by the BBWAA have been generally just. The BBWAA and the Hall of Fame, working together, have allowed generations of fans to debate the merits of their favorite baseball icons and their place in the pantheon of baseball greats.

Unfortunately, during the 90’s and 2000’s, when concerns about steroids were at their height, the vast majority of the members of the BBWAA failed to report on the issue of steroids in baseball. Only now, in retrospect, with steroids having become an enormous black mark on the game, have these same BBWAA members taken it upon themselves to act as moral arbiters and to punish those who used, or were simply suspected of using, steroids. The impact of this has been to bar some of the games’ greatest players, such as the aforementioned Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, from entry to Cooperstown, while other players who merely “seemed” clean, were elected.

For instance, a brief look at Barry Bonds’ career. Bonds entered the major leagues in 1986. It is generally accepted that Bonds did not use performance enhancing drugs until approximately 1998. Of course, even this date is speculative, but bear with me for a moment. From 1986 to 1998, Bonds hit 411 home runs, scored 1,364 runs, drove in 1,216 RBI, posted a batting line of .290/.411/.556 for an OPS+ of 164, won three MVP awards, won eight Gold Gloves, and was named to eight All Star teams. Even if you were to completely invalidate everything Bonds did after 1998 – which you probably should not – Bonds’ career is probably Hall of Fame worthy. Nonetheless, Bonds received only 34.7% of the vote last year.

The voting results have been uneven, and unfair. A substantial portion, if not a majority, of the members of the BBWAA, have refused to enter into a meaningful discourse about the use of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs in baseball from the 1980’s through the present. The use of steroids is an extremely nuanced issue, one which deserves thorough consideration. Instead, BBWAA members have done things such as: 1) turn in a blank ballot (Murray Chass specifically only continues to vote to antagonize his critics) or 2) submit votes that are wildly inconsistent (Ken Gurnick famously left 355-game-winner and 4 time Cy Young Greg Maddux off his ballot, yet voted for Jack Morris, arguing that he could not vote for any player who played during the Steroid Era, notwithstanding that Morris and Maddux’s careers overlapped by over half a decade).

Instead, the BBWAA, in an attempt to salvage its reputation, has denied entry to those who use, or were merely suspected of using, performance enhancing drugs. Rather than being a celebration of the careers of a generation’s most cherished and accomplished players, the BBWAA has turned the yearly Hall of Fame debate into a retroactive witch hunt, fueled by rampant speculation as to who used and who did not.

Due to the fact that the BBWAA failed to report on the steroids issue, and is therefore inextricably linked and complicit in the steroids mess, the BBWAA will never be able to provide an unbiased evaluation of the players of that era.

In light of this fact, the undersigned hereby request that the Hall of Fame revoke the authorization of the BBWAA to elect members to the Hall of Fame until such time as the BBWAA is no longer incapable of producing unbiased results.[3].

A Brief History of The Open Use of Steroids in Professional Sports

The first reported use of steroids in athletics was by the Russians in the 1954 Olympics [4], while the first reported use of drugs to enhance performance goes as far back as 1904, when the winner of the Olympic marathon was allegedly injected with strychnine, a neurotoxin which in small doses can be used as a stimulant.[5]

The International Olympic Committee banned the use of performance enhancing drugs in 1968, beginning with the Winter Games in Mexico City. Twenty years later, in 1988, the winner of the men’s 100 meter dash, Ben Johnson, was famously stripped of his Olympic Gold medal for testing positive for stanozolol (coincidentally, the Gold was then awarded instead to Carl Lewis, who had himself tested positive prior to the Games but, for the games, was deemed clean). [6]

To say that steroids were known, open, and notorious by the late 80’s would be an understatement. In 1983, the International Powerlifting Association followed the lead of the IOC and began testing athletes for performance-enhancing drugs. About 85% of the world’s elite powerlifters were estimated to be using at the time, according to Bob Gaynor, a powerlifting historian and competitive lifter from that era. [7]

Around the same time, discussion of the topic in medical circles had reached a fevered pitch. In a letter to the New York Times in 1987, Dr. Mark Pittman, the Chief of Sports Medicine at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York, wrote as follows:

However, there is a type of dangerous drug with which fans are less familiar, and for which the professional and elite amateur athlete is providing the role model. This is the anabolic steroid, the so-called ”muscle building” or ”strength building” drug. Steroid use started at the top of the athletic pyramid: the world-class athlete, the professional athlete, the competitive body builder. [8]

Later on that year, the Times wrote an article entitled “Concern Rises Over Steroids,” in which another prominent doctor stated his “alarm”:

“’Many of us have been quite alarmed by the increasing number of high school and even junior high school athletes that were seen experimenting with these substances,’ said Dr. James C. Puffer, chief of the division of family medicine of the School of Medicine at U.C.L.A. and the chief physician of the United States Olympic team for the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. ‘It has become frightening.’” [9]

The discussion on steroids had already been framed, openly and notoriously in the public sphere for more than a decade prior to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa “saving baseball” with their heroic home run chase of 1998. And when I say the discussion had been framed, I mean it – people were asking themselves the exact same open-ended questions about steroid use back then that people still ask to this day. The Times posed openly, the following questions, in 1988:

* Is the use of steroids cheating?
* Are the drugs being privately condoned by the very sports bodies that publicly condemn them?
* If steroids are potentially as harmful as medical scientists say, are they still worth the risk?
Indeed – are the drugs being privately condoned by the very sports bodies that publicly condemn them?
[10]

The truth of the matter is that they were being condoned by MLB, as well as by the media whose job it was to impartially cover the sport. In fact, a University of Texas researcher concluded that MLB itself was “largely responsible” for the players use of steroids thanks to the fact that “bodily modification for profit has become the norm and, often, and unstated job requirement.” [10] In Bob Gaynor’s words, even if athletes didn’t want to use, “guys felt like they had to take them to stay competitive.” [7]

It doesn’t require research to know that young athletes with millions of dollars and eternal glory on the line will do whatever it takes to find a potential edge. The Times concludes its November 1988 article with an analog to society at large:

“Widespread use of drugs among athletes should not be surprising, the experts add, because of the competitive nature of all of society.

‘If there were drugs for investment bankers, journalists, teachers and scientists that made them more successful, they would use them, too,’ said Charles E. Yesalis, a professor of health and human development at Penn State. ‘Why does anyone think this would be limited to an athlete?’

‘It is potentially harmful, and there will be casualties,’ he continued, referring to the use of steroids, ‘but man will continue to push back the boundaries. People died in the space shuttle, but it didn’t stop science. To stop would be contrary to man’s nature.’” [10]

All of the above references to steroids can be found in major publications, prior to 1989, and mention of the use of steroids in sports only accelerated in the 1990s. Reporting was widespread when Lyle Alzado passed away in 1992 [11], and members of Major League Baseball’s front offices acknowledged steroid use openly at that time:

“’We all know there’s steroid use, and it’s definitely become more prevalent,’ Padres General Manager Randy Smith says. ‘The ballplayers all know the dangers of it. We preach it every year.’

‘But because there’s so much money to be made these days, guys are willing to pay the price now and will pay the piper later. I can understand it’s a difficult choice for some players. They know it can take five years off their lives, but then they say, ‘OK, so I die when I’m 75 instead of 80.

‘That’s the scary part.’ Just how prevalent is steroid use these days? ‘I think 10 to 20 percent,’ Smith says. ‘No one has any hard-core proof, but there’s a lot of guys you suspect.’” [12]

A report in the Los Angeles Times in 1995 quoted one American League General Manager as estimating that the percentage of steroid users in baseball might have approached a whopping 30%. [13]

Despite all of the above – the banning of PED’s in the Olympics and elsewhere, the deaths of athletes, the public dialogue and medical research on steroids — references to steroid use in baseball were usually sparse and anecdotal. See Baltimore Sun, 12/27/2003 (“Steroid rumors were rampant during baseball’s home run explosion of the late 1990s – and Mark McGwire’s record 70-homer performance in 1998 was slightly tarnished by his acknowledged use of the legal pseudosteroid androstenedione – but Major League Baseball did not seriously address the issue until startling accusations by Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti caused a major public relations crisis in 2002.) [14].

Indeed, to the extent that steroids were even acknowledged, Bud Selig himself, as late as 1995, said that steroids were not a “concern”:

“Bud Selig, acting commissioner, said the topic was last addressed by owners in a private meeting a year or 18 months ago. The conclusion was that no one had any evidence that steroid use should be a concern.

‘If baseball has a problem, I must say candidly that we were not aware of it,’ Selig said. ‘It certainly hasn’t been talked about much. But should we concern ourselves as an industry? I don’t know. Maybe it’s time to bring it up again.’” Los Angeles Times, 07/15/1995 [15]

As late as 2002, many general managers, coaches, and players still admitted willful ignorance of steroid use in baseball:

In the spring of 2002, the Milwaukee Brewers’ manager shared his thoughts on players’ taking steroids. ‘To be honest,’ Jerry Royster told the Los Angeles Times, ‘until they make it a rule, I don’t care what anybody does.’”[16]

When Baseball sent out its official memorandum on performance enhancing drugs, amphetamines were listed – steroids were not. [17]

By the time that a feckless testing plan was put in place in 2003 – fifteen years after Ben Johnson’s positive test in the Olympics, and eleven years after Lyle Alzado’s death – it was too late to avoid the steroid problem. By that time, baseball had already reaped the benefit of the home run boom, writers had already written their feel-good stories, and players had already accumulated the wealth and fame that they were promised. Baltimore Sun, 12/27/2003 [18]

Throughout this entire period of time, the BBWAA failed to meaningfully report on steroid use in the game of baseball. In fact, after Steve Wilstein’s famous report on Mark McGwire’s use of androstenedione, not only did his manager, Tony La Russa, defend McGwire, calling the report “snooping” and “out of bounds,” but fellow reporters turned on Wilstein as well. [19]

The BBWAA’s is Inextricably Linked to the Steroids Issue and Cannot Provide Impartial Election Results; therefore, the Hall of Fame Must Remove Them

It is one thing for a manager to defend his player. But throughout the 1980’s and 90’s the BBWAA was a willing participant in the Steroid Era. Not only did the BBWAA refuse to report on the issue, but as the Wilstein incident above shows, many members of the BBWAA took the opportunity to actively vilify writers who dared to report on it.

Bryan Curtis of Grantland.com probably put it best:

What’s missing is a portrait of baseball writers during the Steroid Era. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America grants its nearly 600 voting members a curious privilege: They’re responsible for shaping a player’s reputation both during his career and after his retirement. They write the game story and then row the boat across the River Styx.

When a Hall voter sees the name of a PED user on his ballot, he’s not staring at an entry on Baseball-Reference.com. That same voter was also the PED user’s chronicler and idolater; he covered his fall from grace; he heard his confession. The player’s doping had a direct and often negative effect on his career. Deacon White is an abstraction. Mark McGwire is a professional trauma. [20]

The BBWAA as an entity is inextricably linked with, and complicit in, if not outright enabling of, the use of steroids in baseball in the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. Because of this, it cannot function as an impartial body when it comes to voting on entry to the Hall of Fame.

Today, BBWAA is being asked to pass judgment on players from this era; the same players whose steroid use the BBWAA, through its complicity and silence, condoned or encouraged. Now, through its privilege as electors for the Hall of Fame, the BBWAA has been presented with a unique opportunity – the ability to cleanse itself of the stain of steroids, by enacting a post-hoc punishment of players who used, or might have used: denial of entry to the Hall of Fame.

When fans look back at this era, the players and the league will be tarnished due to the use of steroids. Players are tarnished, managers are tarnished, Major League Baseball is tarnished, and once-hallowed records are tarnished. Only the BBWAA has the ability, in a tangible way, to take action to repair their legacy. As Mr. Curtis stated above, Deacon White is an abstraction, Mark McGwire is a professional trauma. The BBWAA is unfairly using its right to vote for the Hall of Fame as a method of curing, or obscuring, that trauma.

The BBWAA, as electors, are being asked to pass judgment players – both on their careers and the players themselves. This is a huge responsibility, and therefore, those passing that judgment should be held to a high standard themselves. In the federal courts, there is a rule which requires that any justice, judge, or magistrate judge whose impartiality might reasonably be questioned must disqualify him or herself without being asked to do so. See 28 U.S.C. 455.

“He shall also disqualify himself in the following circumstances… Where he has a personal bias or prejudice concerning a party, or personal knowledge of disputed evidentiary facts concerning the proceeding[.]” See 28 U.S.C. 455

Generally speaking, a judge is required to recuse himself if a reasonable person with knowledge of all the facts would conclude that the judge’s impartiality might reasonably be questioned. Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter stated in 1952 that “when there is ground for believing that such unconscious feelings may operate in the ultimate judgment, or may not unfairly lead others to believe they are operating, judges recuse themselves. They do not sit in judgment.”

It should be self-evident by now that the BBWAA is part of the story, and that writers who covered MLB in the 80’s and 90’s cannot possibly pass an unbiased judgment on the players presently eligible for the Hall of Fame. The BBWAA today improperly sits in judgment. Regardless of where you fall on the issue of steroids – and a reasonable person could certainly conclude that a steroid user should be barred from entry – it is clear that a body which is biased and partial cannot be the voting body.

The New York Times, Washington Post and Baltimore Sun already do not allow their writers to act as electors for the Hall of Fame. Is it, then, any coincidence that the Times and the Sun are the two journalistic enterprises that reported most on the steroid problem in baseball? In a similar vein, when the ESPN’s T.J. Quinn chose to voluntarily surrender his Hall of Fame vote a couple of years ago, this was part of his rationale:

“As a journalist, I was also never completely comfortable with the idea of being a participant in a process I’m supposed to cover . . . too often, I’ve seen writers use their votes as a way to punish or reward players, and I don’t think journalists should be in that position.” [21]

He notes, as we do in this letter, that the BBWAA had performed admirably as the Hall of Fame’s gatekeeper in years prior. However, this was prior to the all-encompassing issue of PEDs, where the BBWAA is an inextricable part of the story.

In conclusion, we, the undersigned, are nothing more than concerned baseball fans. We love the game, we love the Hall of Fame, and we are sad to see the Hall of Fame struggle, both spiritually and financially, due to the BBWAA’s actions.

We want the Hall of Fame to remain a place of preserving history and honoring excellence, not a witch-hunt or post-hoc morality contest. The Hall of Fame has evolved with the times and changed its rules on over a dozen occasions. [22] Although last year’s class was strong (Maddux, Glavine, Thomas), the logjam, and the frustration, will continue to build so long as the BBWAA remains empowered.

By 2016 the Hall of Fame Ballot may contain the following names: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Ken Griffey, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Jeff Bagwell, Larry Walker, Alan Trammell, John Smoltz, Tim Raines, Edgar Martinez, Craig Biggio, Gary Sheffield, Mark McGwire, Mike Piazza, Sammy Sosa, and Carlos Delgado, among others. One could make a compelling Hall of Fame argument for any of those players, players who were truly the face of baseball for an entire generation of fans.

Again, it may be that steroid users do not belong in the Hall of Fame. But at the very least, an unbiased entity should be making that determination.

Return the Hall of Fame, and Hall of Fame weekend, to its proper place in the game. Celebrate baseball. Remove the BBWAA.

Respectfully,

_________________________
Concerned Fans

cc: Hall of Fame Board of Directors
Baseball Writers’ Association of America
Major League Baseball

 

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Endnotes:

[1] http://www.coopercrier.com/baseballhalloffame/x2040132253/Baseball-shrine-facing-declining-attendance.

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/29/sports/baseball/with-no-living-inductees-only-echoes-stir-the-quiet-at-the-hall-of-fame.html?_r=0

[3] http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/bbwaa

[4] http://www.logan.edu/mm/files/LRC/Senior-Research/1992-Aug-23.pdf

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strychnine

[6] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doping_at_the_Olympic_Games

[7] http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/what-powerlifting-tells-us-about-the-effects-of-peds/

[7] http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/04/sports/l-steroid-warning-282987.html?src=pm

[8] http://www.nytimes.com/1987/08/19/sports/concern-rises-over-steroids.html?src=pm

[9]http://www.nytimes.com/1988/11/21/sports/victory-at-any-cost-drug-pressure-growing.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

[10] http://www.sciencecodex.com/mlb_largely_responsible_for_players_steroid_abuse_uta_researcher_says-127980

[11] http://articles.baltimoresun.com/1992-05-15/sports/1992136109_1_lyle-alzado-steroids-brain-cancer

[12] http://business.highbeam.com/62653/article-1G1-17320724/steroids-baseball-say-aint-so-bud

[13] http://articles.latimes.com/1995-07-15/sports/sp-24265_1_steroid-testing

[14] http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-12-27/sports/0312270012_1_steroid-users-testing-positive-baseball-players

[15] http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=steroidsExc&num=19

[16] http://articles.latimes.com/1995-07-15/sports/sp-24265_1_steroid-testing

[17] http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/format/memos20051109?memo=1997&num=1

[18] http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2003-12-27/sports/0312270012_1_steroid-users-testing-positive-baseball-players

[19] http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=steroids&num=8

[20] http://www.grantland.com/story/_/id/10261642/mlb-hall-fame-voting-steroid-era

[21] http://espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8769398/a-writer-gives-hall-fame-vote

[22] http://baseballhall.org/hall-famers/rules-election/rules-history

Other sources:
https://thereadzone.com/2014/01/09/the-baseball-writers-association-of-americas-suspension-of-dan-le-batard-is-cowardly-and-wrong/