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Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame: a simple question

Dec 20, 2011, 6:42 AM EDT

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants, Game 3 Getty Images

John Harper of the Daily News is, in my view, wrong when it comes to Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame, but in approaching the matter, I think he frames the question just perfectly:

But in saying here that I won’t vote for Bonds when he becomes Hall-eligible next year, let me respond to the other side of the debate with a question: Should the Hall of Fame merely be a museum of sorts that reflects the history of baseball, for better or for worse?

Yes. Yes it should be. And I’m not sure what’s so hard about that.

But there is still something I like about Harper’s approach. He adds “I just think the Hall should stand for more than that.”  And with that he injects an honesty that he is, in fact, trying to make a moral stand out of all of this. In some ways it’s a lot more respectable than those voters who say “well, the rules require that we take character into account” and leave it at that.

I like Harper’s approach because I think that if you vote with the Hall of Fame ballot’s famous character clause in mind, it should be incumbent upon you explain the ultimate end of the character clause. To say what the Hall is supposed to stand for. To say what morals and ethics are served by keeping guys like Bonds out. Most don’t, however, because I suspect they can’t come up with a coherent set of ethics that fits (a) their voting choice; (b) their personal moral code; and (c) the Hall of Fame as it currently exists.

So good for Harper. I disagree with him, but good for him for being up front about what he wants out of the Hall of Fame.  Would that other voters who vote similarly explain that they are, in fact, making a moral stand. And explain what, exactly, that moral stand is.  I don’t think they can. At least in any coherent fashion.

120 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. metalhead65 - Dec 20, 2011 at 4:21 PM

    what is wrong about taking a moral stand on cheating? oh wait I forgot nobody was hurt except fans who actually thought they were witnessing history being made so it is ok your book. bonds was a hall of famer before he decided to roid up to smash home run records. sorry in my book using roids is cheating and cheating is morally wrong.

  2. greggatx - Dec 20, 2011 at 6:26 PM

    Nobody ever got into the HOF because of their good moral values. It’s the stats they put up during their careers. Barry Bonds has the numbers and then some. There are a lot of players in the HOF that really don’t have that great of stats and are there. No big deal. The Bond, McGwire and Sosa era gave us some exciting baseball. Today, not so much, kind of boring to me. In baseball the pendulum swings back and forth between good hitting and good pitching. We’ve got better pitching right now. It has nothing to do with steroids. Steroids don’t give you better eye hand coordination or the ability to place your pitches better. If it did all ball players would be MVPs. If you feel you have to blame some one you should blame MLB’s executives, but all they saw were high ratings and packed stadiums. For me the answer is yes to Bonds and all others that have the stats! That’s what the Hall is all about, the STATS!

  3. atlca - Dec 20, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    Couple points:

    If you leave out a generation of players, the HOF turns into irrelevance. Teens and those in their twenties will not see the top players in the HOF so that generation loses any reason to appreciate the HOF. Are we going to keep A-Rod, Braun, Clemens , McGuire, etc. out? Sort of leave the last 15 or so years out like it never happened? They are well aware of the steroid era and seem to be doing a better job of handling it than most of the older generation

    Character is totally subjective. Ty Cobb was one of the biggest a-holes ever and he’s in. Mantle was a drunk and he’s in. Gaylord Perry put just about everything known to mankind on the ball and he’s in. Shall we keep going? Character and following the rules seems to not be a big issue in past selections.

    Whether or not the writers “like” the candidate is irrelevant. We are depending on them as people watching baseball daily for years and having developed expertise to determine for us and the future generations who the best ball players were in a given era. I have no opinion on Bonds in the HOF but I do know that if you break his swing down on video it is probably one of the best swings ever in baseball and I use it to teach kids the right mechanics. So that needs to be balanced against the morals and likability issues.

  4. drew44 - Dec 21, 2011 at 10:51 AM

    Gee, the all time hit king, pete rose, all time homerun king Barry Bonds not in the Hall of Fame? I guess they should take the biggest roiders, Cal Ripkin and Nolan Ryan out as well. And Roger Clemmons, don’t forgett about A Rod, Manny Ramirez, Big PAPPI, Piazza, all of them. Is it fair that ALL THE STARS of the 80’s, 90’s and 2000’s don’t go into the hall? If you were great during those times, you more than likely did roids.

  5. drew44 - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Remember, Mark McGwire hit 49 homers as a rookie. So to me, his whole career was Roids. It has to be all or none. You can’t put Bagwell or Mike Schmitt, or any other player in, but exclude bonds

  6. beamdaddy - Dec 21, 2011 at 1:45 PM

    Simple answer – Did anyone complain when these players were hitting 60-70 homers in a season. Did anyone think it was odd that all of a sudden players were hitting homers in record amounts. I have been a baseball fan for over 50 years – I did not believe it was real.
    Baseball was in trouble – they had a strike and lost a lot of fan support. When these homers started it brought baseball back. Fan interest increased. Nobody was complaining.
    Now that baseball is healthy we want to condemn these players. We let them save baseball but now want to ban them for what they did.
    I do approve of what they did but they saved baseball. PERIOD. Vote them in.

  7. hopespringseternal - Dec 21, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    A wise man once counseled against judging someone by their worst moments.

  8. stercuilus65 - Dec 21, 2011 at 11:24 PM

    More Bonds apologist crap.

  9. klownboy - Dec 22, 2011 at 4:58 PM

    Here’s the deal. Is Barry Bonds a Hall-of-Famer before the steroids? Absolutely. In fact, we was considered the best player in baseball for several years before the alleged steroid use.

  10. klownboy - Dec 23, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    Bonds has really hurt his candidacy for the Hall. What a putz…

  11. bullysix - Dec 24, 2011 at 9:35 AM

    The hall is full of people who had questionable character. These steroid era players should be allowed in and their stats should indicate what helped them achieve those statistics

  12. dexterismyhero - Dec 27, 2011 at 8:55 AM

    And a simple answer: No!

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