Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.
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Steamboat Springs The drive into Cooperstown, N.Y., is magical.
It's the two-lane roads into the town with massive trees blanketing both sides of the road. They couldn't have picked a better spot. Just like the field in "Field of Dreams" has a rustic value to it - in Dyersville, Iowa, population 4,167 - the small, central New York town has a hole-in-the-wall type of feel. Bed and breakfasts on every corner. Coffee shops, memorabilia and, of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame by most means is a tourist trap, bringing people from all over the country to the town at $15 a head.
The last time I was there, the main attraction was a feature on Roberto Clemente. I assume the next time I go, there might be an attraction looking at steroids in baseball.
Ah, steroids in baseball.
Overdiscussed, overcovered, overanalyzed and overscrutinized, the steroid issue in baseball is staring at a huge dilemma: What should be done with all these guys in the steroid era, regarding consideration for the Hall of Fame?
We've already got some evidence with Mark McGwire. For the second year on the ballot, McGwire got exactly 128 votes. That's a sign that if your name's recognized with steroids, you could have a tough time getting in.
There are more names on the way that should provide a heated debate. Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, just to name a few.
What can be done with these guys?
It seems the power numbers of the 1990s and into the new millennium have made it hard for deserving stars of the 1980s to get in. Jim Rice, Andre Dawson and Tim Raines all have solid cases, as all were absolute stars during their eras, to get into the Hall of Fame.
Some have suggested you either let all the suspected steroid users in, or none at all.
But we've all seen how hard it's been to prove who's done it and who hasn't. So, with respect to the guys from the 1980s, there's only one way to treat the new crop of players up for induction.
You have to treat it as its own era. Was steroid using wrong? Yes. But we're not positive who did it, so you have to group the whole era into one.
Even Rich "Goose" Gossage, who was finally elected to the Hall of Fame this year on his ninth try, couldn't dismiss the possibility of using steroids if they were made readily available.
"Chances are, I probably would have done it, too," Gossage said Wednesday.
That's the thing. Gossage is as straight a shooter as you'll find. He's saying what the rest of baseball is afraid to say. If steroids were available during any era, players would have used them.
So from the mid-'90s to today, you have to classify the era as the Steroid Era.
It's just like baseball's had its Dead Ball Era (1901-1919), the Lively Ball Era (1920-1941), the Integration Era (1942-1960), the Expansion Era (1961-1976) and the Free Agency Era (1977-1993).
Now, baseball has had the Steroid Era.
So, if you're a voter out there, you put in Rice, Dawson and Raines because they were dominate in the era they played.
Same thing with McGwire, Palmeiro, Sosa, Clemens and Bonds.
Cheaters or not, these guys - as dominant as they are - deserve to be in.