Bernie Williams worked hard during his 16 years in pinstripes, but he wonders if it was enough to overcome the murky shadow cast by the steroid era.
Williams, a five-time All-Star who won four Gold Gloves, a batting title and four World Series rings, says he realizes that his numbers aren’t as overwhelming as those of some others from his era – he hit .297 with 287 home runs and 1,257 RBI. The question remains: Will history – and Hall of Fame voters – view his career more favorably now that so many other players have been busted for using performance-enhancing drugs?
“How is it going to affect people that had sort of normal numbers?” Williams said yesterday at Yankees camp. “I don’t look at my career differently. My career is what it is. I have the satisfaction of saying that I played through a lot of pain, through a lot of injuries, and I never did anything like that. That’s probably reflected in my numbers.
“At the end of the day, it’s a very complicated issue,” Williams continued. “Who knows who did what and who can prove whatever? You just have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Did you do it the right way?’ I had a great time playing this game and I have no regrets.”
Thoughts: We here at BBD have wondered about Bernie’s Hall chances in the past. To be honest though, it’s a hard question to answer. To me, he is, but I can’t help but feel like my bias is coming into play here. Does the steroid era help his case? Well, it seems like it has hurt Mark McGwire’s chances so why couldn’t it help Bernie’s?
I don’t think it’s that easy though. The people who vote on the Hall of Fame, the BBWAA, is quite an eclectic group and sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for their actions. Sometimes it seems almost arbitrary who they vote for. The Yankees own Don Mattingly has gone from 28 percent down to 13 percent stopping everywhere in between with no consistent downward or upward trend. In other words, a random voter might vote for Mattingly one year, not vote for him the next, and then put him on their ballot after that. During that time Mattingly has done nothing to change the way he should be considered.
So I would say that we’re going to have to wait and see. Perception plays a big part in the Hall of Fame voting and qualifications seem to come on almost a case by case basis. Bernie has been out of baseball for three seasons now so it’s just two more years until this question becomes an important one.
My guess is that the steroid era will not be especially helpful as to whether Bernie makes it or not. Mostly because Bernie’s biggest comparison will be Ken Griffey Jr and he has always been perceived as a pure player. I could be totally off base here though.
Where do you stand?