Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
There. I said it in plain words.
Barry Bonds will get his next shot on Sunday when a special committee votes on his candidacy and the candidacy of others during the winter meetings in San Diego. The committee consists of Ryne Sandberg, Chipper Jones, Greg Maddux, Jack Morris, Frank Thomas, Lee Smith and Alan Trammell; six executives (Paul Beeston, Theo Epstein, Arte Moreno, Kim Ng, Dave St. Peter and Ken Williams) and three members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (Steve Hirdt, La Velle Neal and Susan Slusser).
Besides Bonds, the candidate list includes Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly, Fred McGriff, Dale Murphy and Curt Schilling. Voters are limited to no more than three selections apiece, and candidates must receive 12 votes (75 percent) to be elected. Each candidate is chosen for his impact since the 1980 season.
Before I get into the reasons why, let’s explore yesterday’s article by Tyler Kepner in The New York Times.
Here is what Kepner says:
“The Hall of Fame does not reveal the voters’ individual ballots, and committee members are forbidden from sharing details of the meeting. But if some of the voters stand by their previous statements, it could be another disappointing outcome for Bonds, Clemens and Palmeiro.”
“Reaching the Hall of Fame is baseball’s highest honor, of course, but there is still an unspoken hierarchy. And while (Frank) Thomas posted some of the gaudiest numbers ever, sluggers like Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa eclipsed him during his prime. Proud players do not forget.
“Overnight, everybody caught up,” Thomas told USA Today in 2014. “My 40 home runs and my 120 R.B.I. wasn’t what it once was. Guys started ramping up 50 and 60 home runs. They were doing things that were crazy.”
Soooo, for some veterans and Hall of Famers, the idea that a Bonds or Clemens gets in is simply anathema. The purported steroid users did not “play the game the right way” and the players who were clean did. They resent seeing their numbers dwarfed by the likes of Sosa, McGwire, Barry and Palmeiro. I get it. It’s a fair and good argument.
Here is what Greg Maddux, in his diplomatic way, has to say about the topic:
“As far as the steroids go, I think there’s guys that are good enough to be in the Hall of Fame if they didn’t take them, so I think they’re OK if they get in,” Maddux said. “I think there’s guys that were only good because they took them, and then I think guys will have a problem with that. Now, who’s to say who’s right, who’s wrong, or who’s taking ’em or whatever? Who knows what was going on back then?”
A bit more nuanced and a fair take. The bottom line as I, and perhaps Maddux sees it, with regards to Barry Bonds:
Bonds was a great player before he doped. He was already a sure-fire Hall of Famer and deserves to be in. Same with Clemens. The case for Palmeiro is arguable.
We can look at it, as we have in years past, in one of two ways; If you want to take the moral stance on steroid usage then what about those who commit violence towards women? those who used other drugs (greenies in the 1970s)? and those who were over racists?
We can also say that while steroid usage was common in the Bonds era what about Bud Selig and Major League Baseball turning a blind eye until it was no longer politically feasible?
My verdict: Bonds and Clemens are in.
Here is a Barry Bonds highlight video, for your Tuesday viewing pleasure: