Sammy Sosa shouldn’t hold his breath that he’ll be making it into the Baseball Hall of Fame anytime soon. And neither should Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens.
With steroid scandals still very much on the minds of longtime members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America as they cast their ballots, Hall of Fame manager Tommy Lasorda is the latest critic to bash the nomination of the PED using sluggers.
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, Lasorda said he does not believe Sosa, or fellow nominees and alleged steroid users Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, should reach baseball's highest honor.
"To me, they don't belong in there," Lasorda said. "They cheated. That's the way it is. If my brother did that, I'd say the same thing about my brother. I mean, I know those guys. They're good friends of mine. But by golly, they didn't do it the right way.”
When asked about Bonds in particular, Lasorda said the nomination was a shame.
"How in the hell could a guy hit 73 home runs? I mean, Babe Ruth couldn't do it."
Lasorda is not alone in his sentiments as a recent Associated Press survey should that all three nominees would not garner enough votes to gain entry to Cooperstown.
The survey showed the trio failed to muster even 50 percent support among the 112 voters contacted by the AP — nearly one-fifth of those eligible to choose. Candidates need 75 percent for election.
So Bonds, the only seven-time MVP, and Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young Award winner, are likely to remain outside the Hall along with career hits leader Pete Rose, who was banned for betting on baseball as manager of the Cincinnati Reds.
"I'm not going to vote for anybody who has been tainted or associated with steroids," said MLB.com's Hal Bodley, the former baseball columnist for USA Today. "I'm just not going to do it. I might change down the road, but I just love the game too much. I have too much passion for the game and for what these people did to it."
The current ballot was announced last week and Bonds, Clemens and Sosa were on it for the first time. Votes will be cast throughout the month and results will be released Jan. 9.
Among voters who expressed an opinion, Bonds received 45 percent support, Clemens 43 percent and Sosa 18 percent. To gain election, Bonds and Clemens would need more than 80 percent support among the voters not surveyed and Sosa would need to get more than 85 percent.
"No one would dare say that Bonds, a seven-time National League MVP with 762 home runs, isn't a Hall of Famer," Thom Loverro, a columnist for The Washington Examiner, wrote in a column that explained his decision. "Nor would anyone say that Clemens, with 354 career victories, 4,672 strikeouts and seven Cy Young Awards, shouldn't be enshrined in Cooperstown. The same goes for Sosa, who finished with 609 career home runs, including 243 of them from 1998 through 2001.
"Except they cheated — all of them. And this Hall of Fame is not just about numbers. Three of the six criteria for election to Cooperstown are sportsmanship, integrity and character. Bonds, Sosa and Clemens fail on all three counts."
Bonds and Clemens gained far more support than Sosa in the survey.
"I will definitely vote for Bonds and Clemens. I still need to consider Sosa's resume," ESPN.com's Jim Caple said.
Sosa was among the 104 positive tests in baseball'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.
Several voters said their decisions were for this vote only and they planned to reassess their position each year. Some said that they wouldn't consider voting for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa this year because they didn't want them to have the additional honor of being elected on their first ballot.
With reporting by the Associated Press.