COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- The Hall of Fame Class of 2014 includes three players who did things the right way and never had to apologize.
While Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine were celebrated Sunday in Cooperstown, many of their peers from the Steroid Era will be watching on TV, wondering if their time ever will come.
Thomas has an answer for them.
"They're not going to get in," Thomas told the Tribune. "And talking to all the Hall of Famers, they're going to boycott (if anyone gets elected) to make sure they don't get in. They've already said to me, 'Frank, it's OK to like your peers and do so much with them, but a lot of them did a lot of bad stuff to the game, and they shouldn't be rewarded for something they weren't naturally gifted to do. They cheated.' "
Maddux was not as adamant as Thomas, but he's not crying for the players who put up the numbers to get in but eventually were tainted.
"I know you're responsible for your actions," Maddux said. "You never know when it's going to come up. At the time, I think everyone was aware it wasn't the right thing to do, but they did it anyway. It wasn't that big a deal in the '90s, but now it is. You're kind of responsible for your own actions, and now they're paying the price."
Next year's class has three possible first-ballot picks: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz. None of them has been tarnished by any performance-enhancing drugs scandal. So it figures to be another lost year for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the two most prominent names on the PED list, and Sammy Sosa, who is closer to coming off the ballot completely for not getting 5 percent of the votes.
Thomas was one of the few players who spoke out against PED users during the Steroid Era.
"I don't think there were many other guys," he said. "(The reports) didn't lie. Probably 80 percent of the guys were on (PEDs). And it's true. Look at guys now and go back and look at those lists and see those guys ... that (stuff) was ridiculous."
Thomas was a big man, but he never was associated with the hulking figures who dominated the statistical leaders in the '90s and early 2000s.
"Frank played in an era with a lot of doubts," former White Sox teammate Ozzie Guillen said. "He was the only guy. No one said that about him. A lot of guys know he did it the right way, and I think that's why those three guys are going to be in the Hall of Fame this year. They have to get more credit than anyone else because they pitched and played in an era with a lot of question marks, and they did it clean."
Whether fans are just tired of reading about it or more accepting of athletes' transgressions is debatable, but it's obvious some players' reputations no longer bear the stains of PED scandals. Thomas said he didn't understand how the Orioles' Nelson Cruz could be voted onto the American League All-Star team less than one year after being suspended for his role in the Biogenesis scandal.
"He has been a special player, and no disrespect to Nelson, but people are quick to sweep those things under the rug," Thomas said. "But the Hall of Fame committee is not, and the Hall of Fame (members) are not.
"I had that conversation, and they basically yelled at me for being so nice to my peers, when they know the truth. A lot of those guys know the truth, and all that testosterone in the room from those great players, they don't hold their tongues. They talk about individuals.
"They don't dispute anything (written). They know (how they are), and they're not going to hold anything back. And they've already said, if any of those guys get in and they think they were on it and they have proof, they're not going to be there. There will be an empty room for them going in. That's what they say."
Who is "they"?
"The living Hall of Famers," he said. "It's serious. They basically told me: 'Shut up. You've earned your place. Be respectful. You're part of an elite club. We have rules in this elite club.' And I respect that, and I'm humbled and honored to be part of that elite club."
Thomas knows that some players don't like him spouting off about the issue, including some players who were once his friends. But he's not going to stop now.
"I lost a lot of friends," he said. "We just didn't talk anymore. They disappeared, and that's why I started thinking, 'Hmmm, I wonder why that person doesn't talk to me anymore?' It all points to one thing.
"I don't disrespect any of them. It was great competing against a lot of them, but the truth always sets you free, and it will come out. And stuff continues with this (issue). That's one thing I'm so happy about. I go home and laugh. I'm like, 'I wonder who else is going to be finger-pointed (for PED use)' because I know it's not going to happen to me."
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