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Sports Headlines

January 10, 2013

Hall of Famers happy to see Bonds, Clemens denied

DENVER — Nobody was happier about the Hall of Fame shutout than the Hall of Famers themselves.

Goose Gossage, Al Kaline, Dennis Eckersley and others are in no rush to open the door to Cooperstown for anyone linked to steroids.

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa: Keep 'em all out of our club.

"If they let these guys in ever — at any point — it's a big black eye for the Hall and for baseball," Gossage said in a phone interview with The Associated Press. "It's like telling our kids you can cheat, you can do whatever you want, and it's not going to matter."

For only the second time in 42 years, baseball writers failed to elect anyone to the Hall of Fame on Wednesday, sending a firm signal that stars of the Steroids Era will be held to a different standard.

All the awards and accomplishments collected over storied careers by Bonds, Clemens and Sosa — all eligible for the first time — could not offset suspicions those exploits were artificially boosted by performance-enhancing drugs.

"I'm kind of glad that nobody got in this year," Kaline said. "I feel honored to be in the Hall of Fame. And I would've felt a little uneasy sitting up there on the stage, listening to some of these new guys talk about how great they were."

Gossage went even further.

"I think the steroids guys that are under suspicion got too many votes," he said. "I don't know why they're making this such a question and why there's so much debate. To me, they cheated. Are we going to reward these guys?"

Not this year, at least.

Bonds received just 36.2 percent of the vote and Clemens 37.6 in totals announced by the Hall and the Baseball Writers' Association of America, both well short of the 75 percent needed for election — yet still too close for Gossage's taste. Sosa, eighth on the career home run list, got 12.5 percent.

"Wow! Baseball writers make a statement," Eckersley wrote on Twitter. "Feels right."

The results keep the sport's career home run leader (Bonds) and most decorated pitcher (Clemens) out of Cooperstown — for now. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa have up to 14 more years on the writers' ballot to gain baseball's highest honor.

"Even having just been considered for the first time is already great honor, and there's always a next time," Sosa said in a statement. "Baseball has been extremely good for me! Kiss to the heaven! It was an honor just to have been nominated. I'm happy about that."

Bonds, baseball's only seven-time MVP, hit 762 home runs — including a record 73 in 2001. He has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs and was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer in 2003 to a grand jury investigating PEDs.

Clemens, the game's lone seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is third in career strikeouts (4,672) and ninth in wins (354). He was acquitted of perjury charges stemming from congressional testimony during which he denied using PEDs.

"If you don't think Roger Clemens cheated, you're burying your head in the sand," Gossage said.

Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs, was among those who tested positive in MLB's 2003 anonymous survey, The New York Times reported in 2009. He told a congressional committee in 2005 that he never took illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He also was caught using a corked bat during his career.

"What really gets me is seeing how some of these players associated with drugs have jumped over many of the greats in our game," Kaline said. "Numbers mean a lot in baseball, maybe more so than in any other sport. And going back to Babe Ruth, and players like Harmon Killebrew and Frank Robinson and Willie Mays, seeing people jump over them with 600, 700 home runs, I don't like to see that.

"I don't know how great some of these players up for election would've been without drugs. But to me, it's cheating," he added. "Numbers are important, but so is integrity and character. Some of these guys might get in someday. But for a year or two, I'm glad they didn't."

Gossage, noting that cyclist Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles following allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs, believes baseball should go just as far. He thinks the record book should be overhauled, taking away the accomplishments of players like Bonds, Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire — who has admitted using steroids and human growth hormone during his playing days.

McGwire, 10th on the career home run chart, received 16.9 percent of the vote on his seventh Hall try, down from 19.5 last year.

"I don't know if baseball knows how to deal with this at all," Gossage said. "Why don't they strip these guys of all these numbers? You've got to suffer the consequences. You get caught cheating on a test, you get expelled from school."

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