SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) – Two somewhat controversial picks made up Major League Baseball's 2011 Hall of Fame Class, which was announced on Wednesday.
Pitcher Bert Blyleven got in after 14 years on the ballot and second baseman Roberto Alomar, who many assumed was a first-ballot selection, went in on his second year of eligibility. Hewas passed over last year, probably because of an incident late in his career in which he spit on an umpire.
But the real controversy this year comes further down the voting list in a couple of guys who didn't get in.
Rafael Palmeiro, who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, received only 11 percent of the vote. And Jeff Bagwell, who has never been found guilty of steroid use but has long been the subject of whispers and rumors, was named on less than half the ballots.
This year could be a case study for how voters will handle players from the Steroid Era. And baseball fans in Savannah have strong thoughts on the subject.
"I think they ought not to be on the ballot, I really do think that,'' said Tom Coffey, longtime sportswriter and a member of the Greater Savannah Athletic Hall of Fame. "I think them not getting in today, reflects nicely on the voters that they don't want them in there.''
"If Henry Aaron says they shouldn't be on the ballot, I'm going to defer to Henry Aaron,'' added baseball fan Tommy Stacy. "I'm in favor of not letting those guys in.''
Not everyone agreed on the issue.
"I don't know what the drugs do for you, obviously I've never taken them,'' said General Donald Rosenblum, a longtime Giants fan. "Do they help you hit? Do they help you throw? I don't think anybody's ever come out and said that. All they say is we think he did it or we think he might have done it. And I think they're crucifying some guys who have been great baseball players.
It's a debate that will go on for years as more players suspected of steroid use come on the ballot.
But if today is any indication, they could have a hard time getting into the Hall of Fame.