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An (Unproven) Lack of Integrity Doesn't Affect Batting Averages

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This week the U.S. Anti-Drug Administration (USADA) convicted Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong of using performance enhancing substances, even though there was no evidence that he had done so, with some 500 tests showing negative.

Even the U.S. Justice Department dropped charges against Armstrong for lack of proof. But not the lynch mob USADA. They are stripping him of his cycling awards.

After the Armstrong lynching, the Major League Baseball (i.e. baseball writers who vote) now wants to deny pitcher Roger Clemens a first-ballot entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

More lynching, even though Clemens was found not guilty of lying to Congress or of committing perjury. So where is the evidence of wrong-doing? In our democracy, without proof you can't convict.

As a pitcher, Clemens was without a peer. He belongs in Cooperstown.

With 354 wins (184 losses) over 24 years, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Young awards, four 20-game seasons and 11 all-star years, he should be in Cooperstown.

(Over 27 years, the great Nolan Ryan had 324 wins, 292 losses, seven no-hitters with only two 20-game seasons and an incredible 5,714 strikeouts. But Clemens' .658 win ratio is far better than Ryan's .526).

The baseball poobahs think a first-ballot entry into the Cooperstown should be denied from Barry Bonds because he was souped up with steroids when he smacked 72 home runs in 2001, with a career record of 762 homers. Many believe Bonds is the greatest hitter in the history of the game, and perhaps the greatest all-round player.

Withholding the honour to Bonds is petty beyond belief -- except that it's happening. The Hall of Fame guys are so damned sanctimonious and dogmatic that it curdles belief.

Surely, the only criteria for the Hall of Fame should be a player's record in the game? All this stuff about "integrity" being a factor for entry is rubbish. If so, how would a mean bastard (a murderer?) like Ty Cobb ever have made it?

We all know Bonds was on steroids. So what? So were many. He was convicted of lying and of perjury in April, as if that nullifies his 22-year baseball career: 762 home runs, seven MVPs, 14 all-star appearances, eight Gold Gloves and a lifetime .297 batting average.

Pete Rose is another who's been denied legitimate entry, based on the ridiculous "integrity" issue (which has nothing to do with the game). Rose's 4,256 hits and lifetime .303 average are ignored because he bet -- with no evidence whatsoever -- against his own team.

When baseball people suggest that Bonds was the baseball's greatest hitter, they seem to forget Ted Williams, whose 19-year career was interrupted by three years of military service in WWII, and a couple of abbreviated seasons when he was a pilot in the Korean war.

Can you imagine what Williams' lifetime .344 average would have been if military service hadn't intruded at the peak of his career, or if he had taken anabolic steroids as Bonds is believed to have done? In 1941, he was the last man to hit .400.

Major League Baseball marches to its own tune, but surely the time is overdue for it to drop its sanctimony and hypocrisy and put ballplayers into the Hall of Fame based on their on-field heroics and not on substances we think (but can't prove) they've taken.

The steroid years in Major League ball (1990-2005) seem over. Don't condemn those who played on that level field -- the likes of Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire andRafael Palmero, recognized as exceptional, even among peers who were on the juice.