One of the most popular arguments for inclusion is something like this, posted shortly after Joe Morgan sent his letter opposing the induction of PED users:
Olney is referring to the widespread stories of players in the 1960s taking "greenies," or amphetamines to improve their performance.A reality check: Past users of PEDs have already been voted in the Hall of Fame. https://t.co/MlKDvKWwT7— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) November 21, 2017
This fails for a number of reasons.
- The use of greenies was much cloudier than the use of PEDs in the 1990s was. It is so even today. There was not a Congressional investigation. Nobody thinks that they fundamentally altered the game or how it was played. Nobody is seriously asserting that any players' achievements were greatly inflated by the use of greenies. This is a distinction adults should be able to make. This is an actual case of "false equivalence."
- But, ok, let's accept the equivalence. Maybe the election of greenies users was a mistake, somewhere between innocent ignorance of what these players did, or willful avoidance of the truth. Does that mean we must repeat that mistake? If I get pulled over for speeding, and there's an unsolved crime, can I get out of the ticket on that basis? We've elected slaveholders president; does that mean it can't be disqualifying now?
This seems to be arguing that we can't possibly learn and be better than we were in the past. No, thanks. I certainly hope that our election of Donald Trump means that we can never again hold presidential candidates to high moral standards.
But that is not the argument. Whom an institution chooses to honor is a serious decision about what that organization values. Things that might disqualify from one organization might not be disqualifying for others.
Joe Morgan has advanced the argument that for the Hall of Fame, using PEDs should be disqualifying. He thinks the Hall exists for those who have worked hard to achieve a set of accomplishments, not those who took shortcuts. He may be wrong about that, and I myself probably have a softer stance.
But given what he has invested in both baseball and the Hall of Fame, he deserves a better answer than "but players in the 1960s used greenies!"