Comparing rock and roll to baseball may be akin to comparing apples to coconuts, but if we are so caught up in who's been naughty and nice in their career, the Beatles (1988), the Rolling Stones (1989), nor even Johnny Cash (1992) would have been enshrined in Cleveland's museum.
No one wants their child to grow up and act like Mick Jagger, but his success is undeniable. Cash was hardly an alter boy either, but we proudly tell anyone listening from other states that he was an Arkansan.
Saying that Roger Clemons and Barry Bonds don't belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame because of suspected steroid use is just as hypocritical. Yes, cheating to get an upper hand is different than anything the wild boys of rock and roll -- or country music -- may have done, but it is certainly no more wrong.
Clemons and Bonds, and others like Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire may not be the greatest people that ever walked the face of the earth, but they also did not break any Major League Baseball rules while they were playing. It was only after they accomplished what they did along the way did baseball begin testing for performance enhancing drugs.
No one is defending these guys as role models for our youth. Bonds was a jerk long before his head began to swell to the size of a medicine ball. But being a jerk has never kept anyone out of the Hall of Fame. Working with the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in the early 1990s, I was fortunate to meet both Willie Mays and Hank Aaron. Aaron was as fine a gentleman as you could ever imagine. Mays was about as warm as the Arctic Circle.
Being a role model has never been part of the criteria, either. Have you read about Mickey Mantle's exploits during his days as a New York Yankee? The farm boy from Oklahoma led the league in many categories, including womanizing, boozing and barroom brawls.
Of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame lost much of its appeal and credibility as the house of all-time greats when its voters decided to keep the all-time hit leader, Pete Rose, out. What Rose did as a player was never questioned. He did commit a major sin of the game as a manager by betting on the game, his own team in fact.
Bill Clinton had sexual relations with a White House intern. He not only remained in office, but is widely considered one of the best presidents of our generation.
We can all judge for ourselves the type of individual these players are, and everyone knows Aaron's home run total was more legitimate than the number compiled by Bonds. But, it is called the Baseball Hall of Fame, not the Moral Hall of Fame. These voters, I would bet, probably have some skeletons in their closets, too. Maybe we should have the players do an investigation into their lives and when something is found on them, their privilege of voting on who are the greatest to ever play America's favorite pastime can be revoked.
Perhaps then, and only then, can Cooperstown, N.Y., have a hit record like those in Cleveland.