Former players hoping to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame will face a more rigorous standard after Major League Baseball reduced the number of years that a player is eligible to be voted in.
The Hall of Fame announced the change moments ago, just ahead of this weekend's inductions, meaning that the 15-year window for a player to selected by a consortium of baseball writers has been winnowed down to 10. There will be a few exceptions:
The BBWAA will allow three players — Don Mattingly, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell — who have been on the ballot between 10-15 years to complete a 15-year stay.
More notably, this puts pressure on star players of the sport's recent steroids era to make it into the Hall of Fame sooner. Without the benefit of an extended historical hindsight, it seems unlikely that players like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds will be enshrined in Cooperstown without some kind of narrative sea change.
Yesterday, Bryant Gumbel made the case that if baseball's sportswriters were willing to vote in manager Tony LaRussa, who presided over McGwire's unfathomable and now-maligned ascent into the baseball stratosphere, then they should also vote in McGwire and the other stars of that era, who fell under suspicion.