This year’s Hall of Fame baseball ballot is a referendum on the Steroids Era.
Controversy stricken Dominican baseball slugger Sammy Sosa has been nominated for the Hall of Fame for the first time.
Posting huge numbers during his time in the major leagues, Sosa’s reputation was tainted by accusations he used performance-enhancing drugs.
And this year, fellow steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are also on the voting ballots, which will leave the decision in the heads of more than 600 longtime members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Candidates need 75 percent for induction, and the results will be announced Jan. 9.
Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza and Curt Schilling are among the 24 first-time eligibles. Jack Morris, Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines are the top holdover candidates.
The upcoming election is certain to fuel the most polarizing Hall discussion since career hits leader Pete Rose's betting troubles put him on baseball's permanently ineligible list, barring him from the BBWAA ballot.
Couple this with the baseball’s continued attempts to try and rid itself of PEDs and their impact on HRs, RBIs and Ws, and the nomination of such players as Sosa remains a prickly problem.
Bonds is baseball's all-time home runs leader with 762 and won a record seven MVP awards. Clemens ranks ninth in career wins with 354 and took home a record seven Cy Young Awards. Sosa is eighth on the home run chart with 609.
Fans, players and Hall of Fame members have all chimed in about whether stars who supposedly juiced up during the Steroids Era should make it to Cooperstown.
Many of those opposed say drug cheats should never be afforded baseball's highest individual honors. Others on the opposite side claim the use of PEDs was pervasive in the 1980s, 1990s and early 2000s, and shouldn't disqualify candidates.
If recent voting for the Hall is any indication, the odds are solidly stacked against Bonds, Clemens and Sosa.
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.