Relief for Gossage

BOB ELLIOTT -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

Rich (Goose) Gossage says it's time for players who used performance-enhancing drugs to come clean, "fess up" and "move on" with their life.

Gossage, the only player elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame yesterday, was asked if he considered both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens cheaters.

"I'm glad the Mitchell Report came out and shed light on this," Gossage told reporters via conference call from Colorado Springs, Colo.

"Now, we have to figure out who's telling the truth. Some day we'll know. I think (Clemens and Bonds) are on the same level, I don't think there's any question."

Gossage, much like when Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley were elected, answered as many questions about his election as the steroid era. The day before Molitor and Eckersley were elected in 2004, Pete Rose came out with a book.

"It's kind of weird," said Gossage, who wished there had been a level playing field. "These guys had some of their most productive years (at an age) when the best guys in history saw their talents diminish as they got older. These guys, it didn't happen that way.

"We'll have to wait and see if these guys come clean and finally put an end to this. If they find out they didn't do performance-enhancing drugs, then I think it needs to be dealt with."

Bonds, who passed Hank Aaron as the career home run leader, has been indicted for perjury, a culmination of a four-year U.S. federal probe into whether he lied under oath testifying in the BALCO steroid case.

The Mitchell Report stated that Clemens, a 354-game winner, had been injected with steroids by strength coach Brian McNamee. Clemens has filed a civil suit.

It took nine years on the ballot for Gossage to make it. He was named on 466 of the 543 ballots (85.8%) submitted by Baseball Writers Association of America members with 10 or more years of service. Three blank ballots were returned.

Gossage was 21 votes shy of induction a year ago and with the best newcomer being Tim Raines, Gossage moved to the head of the line.

How does Gossage move from 33% of the vote in 2000, his first year, when we first voted for him, to being elected while his save totals didn't budge?

Some voters chose to vote for the best one or two candidates rather than remaining consistent. And until the previous few years, voters were slow to give approval to closers.

Gossage is only the fifth reliever in the Hall, joining Hoyt Wilhelm (inducted in 1985), Rollie Fingers (1992), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Eckersley (2004).

Pitching out the bullpen was not always a position of earnings and respect, but Gossage helped to change that.

"When they sent me to the bullpen in 1972, it was a junk pile world, where starters went who couldn't make it," Gossage said.

In his 22-year career Gossage had a 124-107 mark with a 3.01 earned run average and 310 saves in 1,002 games. In all, he had 52 saves of seven outs or more. Mariano Rivera has one save as long.

Boston's Jim Rice finished 16 votes shy (72.2%). Next year is his 15th and final year on the ballot.

"From what I know facing these guys, Rice belongs. No hitter ever scared me, but he came close," Gossage said. "Andre Dawson belongs. Bert Blyleven too. If I was voting, I'd vote for them."

Dawson received 65.9% of the vote, followed by Blyleven at 61.9%. Mark McGwire received 23.6%, barely more than a year ago.

While Gossage was tough on Bonds and Clemens, he was not as rough on McGwire, saying "he was a great teammate of mine in Oakland."

Newcomer Raines, the second-best leadoff man we've ever seen, garnered only 24.3% of the vote.

And Henderson, the best, becomes eligible in December.


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