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It’s lunacy to keep Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the Hall of Fame

Nov 28, 2012, 12:48 PM EDT

Barry Bonds

There are 37 players on the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot. And, over the coming weeks, we will consider all of their candidacies in turn.  But there are two players making their debut on the ballot who tower above all of the others, and nothing useful can be said about the Hall of Fame class of 2013 without first considering those two. So let’s talk about Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Bonds and Clemens are two players who, in a just world, would be unanimous selections for induction but who, for reasons discussed earlier today, will almost certainly not make the Hall.  Let’s first walk through their obvious baseball qualifications for the Hall — and bear with me, because I will assume in this first part that the performance enhancing drug issues don’t exist — and then deal with those pesky objections so many have to their candidacy.

The Baseball Bonafides

While it’s always hard to compare players between eras, it is not hyperbole to say that Bonds and Clemens would be finalists in a contest to name the greatest hitter and the greatest pitcher who ever lived. We all think we know how great they were because their careers just wound up five years ago, but even the most dedicated baseball fan can be shocked to take a look back over their stat sheets to see just how thoroughly they dominated their era.

I won’t go into hardcore statistics with you, but let’s just see where Barry Bonds resides on the leader board in various categories:

  • He’s the all-time home run king;
  • He’s the all-time walk king and the all-time intentional walk king
  • Third all-time in runs scored;
  • Third all-time in wins above replacement (WAR);
  • Sixth all-time in on-base percentage;
  • Sixth all-time in slugging percentage;
  • Fourth all-time in OPS (on-base plus slugging) and Third all-time in adjusted OPS (which weights for era and ballpark);
  • Second all-time in extra base hits;
  • Fourth all-time in total bases;
  • Fourth all-time in RBI;
  • Second all-time in total times on base; and
  • He’s the single-season record holder for home runs and base-on-balls (actually he holds the top three seasons in base-on-balls)

In addition, he has the record for most MVP awards (seven) and probably deserved to win the MVP a couple more times, most notably 1991. And he wasn’t all bat, either. He holds the all-time record for putouts by a left fielder, won eight Gold Gloves and stole 514 bases.

How about Roger Clemens?

  • Third all-time in strikeouts (4,672)
  • Ninth all-time in wins (354), but third among pitchers who didn’t spend the bulk of their career in the deadball era;
  • Sixteenth all-time in innings pitched, but ninth among non-deadballers;
  • Seventh all-time in games started;
  • Third all-time in WAR for pitchers;
  • Tenth all-time in adjusted ERA+ (which is analogous to OPS+ in that it weights for era); and
  • First in several other complex era-adjusting statistics such as runs saved, win probability and the like.

Like Bonds and his MVPs, Clemens has seven Cy Young Awards and arguments for more. He also has one MVP award of his own.

When you look merely at their production and their dominance, the number of hitters better than Barry Bonds and the number of pitchers better than Roger Clemens in all of baseball history can be counted on one hand. Comparing Bonds and Clemens to people like Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ted Williams and Walter Johnson is not just not hyperbole. It’s absolutely necessary, for their like has rarely if ever been seen in the game of baseball.  Put simply, they are immortals.

But their baseball exploits are not the end of the story, obviously.

source:  Bonds, Clemens and Performance Enhancing Drugs

While Clemens and (to some extent ) Bonds continue to either deny or play down their use of PEDs, and while the criminal prosecutions against them were either misguided, unsuccessful or both, it is simply obtuse to believe that they weren’t significant PED users. Bonds’ use was painstakingly documented in the 2007 book “Game of Shadows.” Clemens’ use is far less clear cut, but just because the Justice Department couldn’t convict him of lying about it under oath doesn’t mean that we have to assume he never did it. For our purposes here, let’s make the exceedingly safe assumption that he did.

Bonds and Clemens use of PEDs will, for many, disqualify them from Hall of Fame consideration out of hand.  The reason they won’t get 75% of the vote and induction on this year’s ballot is because far, far more than 25% of the Hall of Fame electorate believes that anyone who used PEDs should not be in the Hall of Fame, full stop. Many if not most fans feel this way too, as do no small amount of current and former major leaguers.

But should this be so? Absolutely not. And to explain why, I will take on the arguments commonly made against their induction one-by-one:

Argument: Bonds and Clemens may have amazing stats, but those stats were bogus due to their PED use.

Response: Sure, to some extent their statistics were inflated. But by how much? When did Bonds start using? When did Clemens start using? If, as is almost universally agreed-upon, it was during the middle-to-late years of their career, how were they so dominant early on as well? Bonds won three MVP awards before the “Game of Shadows” authors believed he began using. Clemens had an MVP, three Cy Young Awards and was generally considered the best pitcher in the game before his chief accuser, former trainer Brian McNamee, claims he began using PEDs. If you stopped their careers the day before they picked up their first syringes, they’d be first-ballot Hall of Famers.

But even taking their whole careers in, it is lunacy to suggest that, inflated or not, Bonds and Clemens weren’t vastly superior to their competition. Hundreds if not thousands of major leaguers took PEDs during the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s. Many of them, by the way, were pitchers who faced Bonds and hitters who faced Clemens. But that aside, no one matched Bonds’ and Clemens’ performance. It’s obvious why: the E in PEDs stands for “enhancing,” not “creating,” and thus one cannot ignore the fact that Bonds and Clemens were unique and historic talents who, even if the final tallies on their stat sheets should be somewhat discounted, clearly would have been among the all-time greats without the juice.

Argument: You can’t just discount their stats. Bonds and Clemens cheated, cheating is wrong, and thus they should be excluded.

Response: Cheating is wrong, no question. But Hall of Fame voting is not a rule-enforcement mechanism or a court of law. That’s the job of the Joint Drug Program agreed upon between the league and the union. If someone breaks the drug rules and gets caught and gets punished, it’s up to the league to punish them, not baseball writers who comprise the electorate.

But that little technicality aside, the Hall of Fame has long welcomed cheaters with open arms, and no current rule says that a cheater, be he a drug cheater or otherwise, can’t be allowed in (I’ll get to the issue of character in a minute). Gaylord Perry threw a spitball. Don Sutton and Whitey Ford (and probably almost every other pitcher in history) scuffed or cut balls. Scores of batters corked their bats. The 1951 Giants won the pennant after rigging up an elaborate, electric sign-stealing mechanism. John McGraw, both as a player and a manager, invented and carried out more ways to break rules than anyone in history, ranging from umpire distracting and cutting the corners on bases and tripping or obstructing opposing runners. Ty Cobb sharpened his spikes in an effort to maim opposing players who would dare try to tag him out. While we single out the 1919 White Sox as a unique stain on the game, many players — including Hall of Famers — fixed baseball games prior to the Black Sox scandal.

While many have attempted to argue that using PEDs is different in kind than all of those other examples — examples which are often laughed off as quirky or colorful — the fact is that there are PED users in the Hall of Fame already. Only, instead of steroids, they used amphetamines or “greenies” as they were called. Players who have either admitted to or have been credibly accused of taking such things include Pete Rose, Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays. And this leaves out all of the drug and/or alcohol users who took things which hindered their performance, which also impacted the competitive nature of the game, albeit adversely to their team’s interests. And it also assumes that there are no steroid users already in the Hall of Fame, which I do not believe is a reasonable assumption.

The common thread here: all of these examples of baseball cheating involved players breaking rules in an effort to gain some sort of edge on the competition. Rule breaking that, in turn, put the competition in the unenviable position of having to decide if they too should break the rules to keep up.

The point here isn’t that two wrongs make a right. The point is that the Hall of Fame has never cared about wrongs in the first place.  Why it should start caring about them now is beyond me.

Argument: The Hall of Fame ballot has a character clause on it, and even if the past cheaters were let in, voters are nonetheless obligated to abide by the character clause now and keep Bonds and Clemens out.

Response:  Yes, the Hall of Fame ballot has a character clause. It reads like this:

“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”

It should be noted, though, that this clause was not invented to keep bad seeds out. It was invented to let good eggs in, even if they weren’t quite up to Hall of Fame standards otherwise. It was designed to be a bonus, not a detriment. Specifically, as Bill James argued in his seminal book “Whatever Happened to the Hall of Fame,” the clause was written by baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis in an effort to get a player named Eddie Grant inducted into the Hall on the basis of his heroism in World War I (Grant was killed in action in Lorraine, France).  The attempt to get Grant inducted never worked — he just wasn’t a good enough player — but the clause stuck.

It stuck despite the fact that character — like cheating — has never been true criteria for Hall of Fame induction. The Hall is filled with racists, segregationists, cheaters, drug users, criminals both convicted and merely accused, and depending on how you view Tom Yawkey’s treatment of former Red Sox trainer Donald J. Fitzpatrick, an argument can be made that an enabler of sexual abuse has a plaque in Cooperstown as well. Heck, as Joe Posnanski noted a few years ago, way back in the 1930s a guy who murdered his wife and children got a couple of Hall of Fame votes.

But the point here isn’t exactly the same “well, other bad seeds are in the Hall” point mentioned above.  It’s more about how irrelevant the clause is to one’s prowess or fame as a baseball player and, more to the point, how ill-equipped baseball writers are at judging a player’s character.  Indeed, the presence of all of those bad seeds shows how ill-equipped they are. The clause was always there, yet those guys got the votes. It’s possible this was the case because all of the writers accidentally forgot to apply the voting rules. It’s far more likely, however, that the writers, in their wisdom, realized that they were in no position to look into the hearts of men and judge their moral worth.  It’s something that some writers are now starting to realize about the PED crowd.  It’s something they all should do.

Conclusion

In the final analysis, I hope we can all agree that there is no baseball reason whatsoever to keep Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens out of the Hall of Fame. Their baseball accomplishments — both those which can be measured by statistics and those which cannot — are so far beyond sufficient for induction that it’s almost laughable to list them.  To oppose their candidacy, then, one must make a moral or ethical case based on their drug use and the voter’s opinion of their character. And that case will almost certainly be made from a great distance and with imperfect information.

You may feel comfortable doing such a thing.  I do not.  And I believe that any Hall of Fame that does not include two of the best players to ever swing a bat or throw a ball, no matter what their flaws, is an utter joke.

217 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    If Bonds and Clemens are kept out, the Hall of Fame will be a joke.

    • historiophiliac - Nov 28, 2012 at 12:56 PM

      Really? The validity of that depends to you on the inclusion of two players?

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        Yes, if the greatest hitter and greatest pitcher are not in the Hall of Fame, then what’s the point?

      • historiophiliac - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:10 PM

        I don’t agree with either one of those assessments. Neither makes my Mt. Rushmore of baseball greats (although they would make my evil Mt.Rushmore version).

        But anyway, it isn’t just a collection of the best in each skill…plus, there’s already some questionable inclusions/exclusions.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:12 PM

        But this wouldn’t be a questionable exclusion. It would be an idiotic stand taken by hypocritical baseball writers.

      • historiophiliac - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        In your opinion. If you want to vote, get a job as a baseball writer…but you still won’t be able to control their votes.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        So what you are saying is that Bonds and Clemens do not belong in the Hall of Fame? Or are you just being argumentative?

    • hojo20 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      And if stats compiler like Biggio is put in, it will be a joke.

      • stex52 - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:39 PM

        So you are saying that having good stats is bad? I’m interested in that reasoning.

      • nategearhart - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        I’ve never clicked the thumbs-down button so many times as I did on this one comment. “Stats-compiler” implies that he was never anywhere near great, but simply stuck around long enough to have big numbers at the bottom of his stats page. You couldn’t be more wrong. Harold Baines was a compiler. Tommy John was a compiler. Craig Biggio was one of the best all-around players of his era, and one of the greatest second basemen of all time, which doesn’t even consider his time as a very good catcher and pretty good centerfielder.

    • miker76868 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:28 PM

      Are you joking? they cheated! They might have been great without steroids, but the only reason they were the best was BECAUSE of steroids!

      • indaburg - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:48 PM

        So, should we then rescind the HoF membership of all players in the history of the game who cheated?

        Pretty much everyone and their mother was on steroids during that time. Clemens and Bonds were not made great by steroids. Plenty of average and lousy baseball players took PEDs. It didn’t make them great.

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:54 PM

        Bonds and Clemens were HOFers before they allegedly took PEDs. If you want to debate whether they should be in the GOAT argument because of PEDs, then OK, I’ll debate that. But to keep Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall of Fame because of their alleged PED use is stupid because, like I said, they were already HOFers.

    • miker76868 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      the Hall of Fame will be a joke if they let them in!

    • kkolchak - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      Guess you’ve never heard of Pete Rose.

      • Steve A - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:35 PM

        No one’s been given the chance to elect Pete Rose to the Hall of Fame. His banishment from baseball has prevented either the BBWAA or the VC from having the ability to elect him. Would he be elected? We don’t know.

        With Bonds and Clemens, we will know. Bonds and Clemens are both on the HOF ballot and the BBWAA has the ability to elect them. If the members of the BBWAA do not elect them to the HOF, then, yes, the HOF election process is a joke.

  2. plmathfoto - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:02 PM

    Craig, seriously, how many different ways can you say the same thing? It’s blatantly obvious how you feel about this, should we keep score on how many different articles you’re going to write on the exact same position?

    • Craig Calcaterra - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      While it often seems this way, I do in fact have editors, and from time to time they ask me to write certain things in greater depth and detail when news warrants. This post may be repetitive for regular HBT readers, but it’s also doubling as news content over at NBC.com, and that’s a readership that is not used to my usual HoF and PED rants.

      • plmathfoto - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

        Thanks Craig, understood.

    • number42is1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:19 PM

      If you can get away from your kidnappers for a minute let me know where you are and I will call the cops. not kidnapped you say? well i just ASSumed that you were and that they were forcing you to read this. cause… you know… this is a BLOG and reading it kinda..well… optional.

  3. babych99 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Very good write-up Craig. That being said I won’t lose any sleep if they don’t get in. I won’t pretend to be a baseball purist b/c I’m not but these 2 clowns not getting in won’t make me view the HOF any differently.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

      Is that because you already view the HoF as a joke, or you don’t think Bonds/Clemens are as good as Craig make them out to be? I’m not sure based on your comment.

      • professorperry - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:33 PM

        For my part, the HoF is a joke. The lessons I draw from Posnanski and others is not that letting Clemens and Bond in, or not, matters … but that the HoF is and always has been a joke. So why should that change now?

  4. aiede - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    Agree with Craig. Their accomplishments on the field should get them into the Hall of Fame.

    If we try to weigh the human decency or lack thereof for every single HoF candidate, we’re going to need to come up with some new stats, like Morality Over Replacement Human or Senate Investigations Created+ (normalized for C-SPAN era).

    • osufanstill - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      If you are willing to let PED users in to the HOF, then Pete Rose should be able to get in. Especially when Craig is quoting the “integrity” clause to help the PED users…

      • Chris Fiorentino - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:09 PM

        Alleged PED users like Bonds and Clemens didn’t break baseball’s rules when they allegedly used steroids since they weren’t against baseball’s rules. Whereas, Pete Rose broke the #1 rule in baseball…don’t bet on the game. Then he lied about it for years. I loved the way Pete played, but if anybody deserves to be banned, it’s Pete Rose.

    • mackypinky - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:33 PM

      This debate over PEDs and HoF is no doubt worth having. There is a huge disparity between what we can KNOW, what we can SEE, and what we can actually MEASURE. At this point, can we possibly measure the difference between what Bonds/Clemens careers WERE and what they “should” have been without enhancement?

      insert Jamsean formula here please:

      I’m not trying to be smart here, but it does seem to me that the greatest resource we have are measurable statistics.

  5. skids003 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:09 PM

    I think its lunacy Bagwell isn’t in.

  6. MattJanik - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    Here, here.

    Somebody should send a link to this article to every Hall of Fame voter with a Twitter account every day between now and when ballots are due back.

  7. phalatek6 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:17 PM

    My 2 cents is this: I view the HOF as something that should be a celebration of the game and its best players. The best players from an entire generation are at risk of being held out because of (in some instances) unproven claims or admissions after the fact. Even if they were cheating, most of these men on the ballot were never caught by the league, and only one of them if I am correct – Palmeiro – was even disciplined by MLB.

    So, as far as I am concerned, I will continue to base my opinion solely on the results from the field. Bonds is a hall of gamer. As are Clemens, Sosa, Bagwell, Piazza, McGwire, and even Palmeiro. All HOF in my book.

    So hopefully the Hall will celebrate my generation and its greatest players

  8. babych99 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:18 PM

    Theres is no denying these two are as good as they aremade out to be. I already view the Hall as somewhat of a joke, given how they vote some players in and how they keep some more deserving players out. Just my opinion.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM

      Not a problem, just sometimes hard (and not exactly smart) to infer stuff based on people’s comments. I think the HoF is a bit of a joke itself and, when my 7mo old son is of proper age, will be more interested in going to KC for the Negro League HoF than the MLB one in Cooperstown.

      • cur68 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        Was in KC this summer and went to the NLHoF. Saw Darnel McDonald and Ryan Sweeney visiting it, too (Red Sox were in town to take on the Royals). It was very, very good. And the Jazz museum’s right next door. You won’t be disappointed.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:16 PM

        Jazz, BBQ and Baseball, what’s not to love (minus the 100+ degree heat in the summer).

  9. rathipon - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Thanks Craig. Your legal background serves you well here. I don’t think the case for inclusion of the PED accused players in the HOF can be stated any better. I would enjoy reading a well thought out rebuttal as well. Hopefully someone representing the opposing viewpoint gives it a shot.

  10. ganja4all - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    When Barry and Roger said “I need drugs to get the job done”, they have taken the stand that they as individuals are not good enough to compete with the others in baseball. Someone who has earned these numbers fair and square deserves consideration for the Hall, these two dopers do not rise to the level of the Hall of Fame consideration or entry.

    • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM

      That’s a perfectly legitimate point of view but how can you know who has “earned numbers fair and square?”

      The basic point on why to exclude Bonds and Clemens (and the rest) is that no one has any clue on who used and who didn’t. It’s probably more likely that everyone used than it was just a few.

    • emeraldcityfan - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      I agree with what you’re saying, but i gotta chuckle at the irony of someone named ganja4life calling someone a doper.

    • dluxxx - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:01 PM

      To that I say this:

      We should keep anyone out that had any kind of surgery to prolong or improve their career. If they can’t continue to pitch without that ligament in their elbow, then too bad. Career over. Need Lasik in order to see the ball? Tough.

      I say down with any type of scientific advance that wasn’t available before 1839. Hell, even stats accumulated during night games should be banned. Damn that electricity!!!

      My hall is a pure hall. It’s kinda empty, but it makes it easier to dust….

      • dluxxx - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:04 PM

        To clarify, I’m being sarcastic, but also saying that surgically altering your body in order to continue to compete seems as good of a reason. It isn’t against the rules? Well, neither were PEDs. What’s the difference?

    • ptfu - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Congratulations on kicking off your campaign to throw Mike Schmidt, Mickey Mantle, Ted Williams, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays out of the HOF. You’d better purge the place of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s too, thanks to widespread greenies. Don’t hold back.

      ZOMG! Rumor has it that Babe Ruth drank beer, which was essentially illegal back then thanks to Prohibition. Throw out the Babe! That infernal lawbreaker has no place in our sanctimonious Hall!

  11. frank35sox - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    In my opinion, the best argument you made was one you didn’t even intend to make– the “steroid era” is an era just like the “dead ball era.” We devalue the dead ball players’ achievements accordingly to whatever standard each of us hold for that era. Similarly this is how I think the steroid era should be viewed. We may not all agree on how to value the achievements of the players in that era, but their achievements cannot be denied.

    • xmatt0926x - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      frank35, you’re kind of making my point. Let them in the hall of fame. They were all part of an era where we know many more used PED’s and we can’t just keep up a witch hunt when it comes to players like Piazza and Bagwell, who we may feel likely used, but we have no proof. Baseball is the one sport where the history and minute details of players are studied by fans unlike any other sport. If you put these guys in they won’t be getting away with anything. They are always going to be associated with the “steroid era” and their accomplishments can be debated 50 years from now by fans just like we can debate the merits of deadball era players. People keep trying to find the perfect answer and there is none. Stop with the morals and character stuff. You can’t argue that and then conveniently allow that guys like Ty Cobb are in. As Craig mentioned, we also can’t prove how much the benefit was to using even though we know there certainly was a benefit. Bottom line is that you look at their accomplishments, put them in and then allow everyone to make their own judgements. To me that seems like the only logical solution. I think we are all capable of debating the merits of each players stats along with the negative aspects just like we can appreciate a player who played in the early 1900’s even though we know things were very different then and those guys might not be able to play with todays players. Let them in!

    • sparty0n - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:39 PM

      the “steroid era”…… only if ALL players used them, as in, ALL players played with the same baseballs during the “dead ball era”

  12. tcostant - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Don’t do the crime, if you can’t do the time. To bad, they made thier bed.

    • manifunk - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:29 PM

      Dozens of players who have done “crimes,” both by cheating in baseball or literally committing crimes, are in the HOF.

  13. imaduffer - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    I think PED’s should be voted into the HOF. You could have a display of the clear and the cream along with some hypodermic needles. A few blue, red and green pills.

  14. mrwillie - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:25 PM

    The real lunacy lies within the BBWAA and what they have turned the HOF voting into. They have tainted it, with their politics and collusion, more than PED’s ever will.

  15. fuddpucker - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Why do you care if Bonds or Clemens get in the Hall of Fame? Bonds or Clemens don’t care one iota if they get in or not.

    • plmathfoto - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

      Clemens cares a lot

  16. miker76868 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    No baseball reason to keep them out???!!! Here is one; THEY CHEATED!

    • nategearhart - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:59 PM

      If Clemens and Bonds are elected, what will you say? “Sonofabitch! There’s cheaters in the Hall of Fame!”
      Did you know you can say that now?

  17. miker76868 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    I am curious, do you think that Lance Armstrong should keep his Tour de France titles? Because basically there is NO difference between LA and Clemens or Bonds

    • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:42 PM

      Actually there is a huge difference between Armstrong and the baseball players. In cycling they actually tested for PED users and if caught there were thrown out of the race and suspended (and if they also expunged prior results). Baseball was not testing at the time and now even if caught players are just suspended, their previous results are not discarded.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      Actually there are lots of differences, for one, Lance broke rules specific to cycling, whereas there was no rule against PEDs when Bonds took them and Clemens supposedly took them.

      • byjiminy - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:18 PM

        this is a common misconception. of course they were against the rules of baseball. they weren’t even legal.

      • bh192012 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:44 PM

        Current rules are from 2005 derrived from rules in 2004. They had testing in 2003, and agreed to the 2003 testing in 2002, so they knew it was against the rules and in the player agreements by 2002.

        Before that in 1991, Commissioner Fay Vincent sent a memo to all teams stating that steroid use was against the rules.

        Bud Selig did the same in 1997, stating violators”risk permanent expulsion from the game.”

  18. thomas2727 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:33 PM

    I visited the Hall of Fame last Summer. There was a sign that read something along the lines of. The HOF acknowledges the PED era but says there will never be a way to determine an exact list of PED users.

    It is pretty telling that Hank Aaron has a room the size of a master bedroom at the HOF in his honor. And Barry Bonds has a tiny showcase the size of a microwave oven that contains his batting helmet and the record breaking ball complete with asterisk branded in it with a note explaining the donation from Mark Echo

  19. sabatimus - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:34 PM

    I wonder if the HOF voting was different back when Ty Cobb made it in. “Integrity and sportsmanship” my ass.

    • sabatimus - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:37 PM

      Going one further: Integrity and sportsmanship were present in Bonds and Clemens? Maybe for a few seasons at the beginning of their careers before they ballooned out or became liars and cheaters.

  20. nbjays - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    I don’t agree entirely with Craig’s arguments, but I will say this: If Bonds and Clemens deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, so does Pete Rose… no ifs, ands or buts.

    • kkolchak - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      My solution for all three is to leave them out until the year after they pass on, so they will never know that they made it in.

    • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:44 PM

      Isn’t Pete Rose ineligible for the Hall of Fame? I think most people think he deserves to be in the HOF (of course deserves got nothing to do with it) but he was the one that accepted the lifetime ban which makes it different than Clemens, Bonds, etc.

    • sabatimus - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:45 PM

      If I were Pete Rose and I got invited, finally, to the HOF, I’d tell them to shove their joke of a Hall where the sun don’t shine.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM

        However, what he would actually do is immediately call a press conference to accept and then start selling memorabilia signed “Pete Rose, HoF.”

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      If Bonds and Clemens deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, so does Pete Rose… no ifs, ands or buts.

      Why? One broke the cardinal sin of baseball, lied about it for years, and then only came clean after writing a book where he admitted he broke the cardinal sin of baseball. The other two broke federal laws but didn’t break specific MLB laws. Explain how they are similar.

      • osufanstill - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:07 PM

        So MLB “cardinal” law trumps Federal law… Both Bonds and Roger have been lying for a very long time about this too….

      • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:12 PM

        Yes, MLB rules trump federal laws – are you really arguing that we need to enforce the criminal code in sports? Just think how fun it would be if we charged every pitcher for throwing at a batter and baserunners for running over the catcher!

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:13 PM

        So MLB “cardinal” law trumps Federal law

        So if breaking federal law = no vote, then you think that Aaron, Mays and many others in the 60s and 70s shouldn’t be in the HoF as well because they used Amphetamines which are a Schedule II drug and illegal without a prescription?

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:24 PM

        Church, amphetamines weren’t added to schedule II until 1961. Guys using them before then weren’t breaking any laws.

  21. pappageorgio - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I agree that there is no way that these two should be kept out of the HOF.

    If writers want to make their point they should just make sure they don’t go through on the first ballot.

  22. mattj425 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:39 PM

    In my opinion, if the best players in a sport are not in the Hall of Fame — whether it’s Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens or even Peter Rose — it’s a country club, not a Hall of Fame.

  23. jm91rs - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    Everyone is going to throw a fit when neither of these 2 get in this year. Then next year Bonds will get in and everyone will stop crying. Clemens won’t get in next year because he’ll be ineligible after an ill advised return to the big leagues.

    Baseball writers long ago decided that there was something special about 1st ballot induction. They won’t give the cheaters 1st ballot induction, but next year these guys will start getting in and everyone can calm down a little.

  24. j0esixpack - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I trust those who vote to use their judgement, one way or another, to decide whether these players use of PEDs in a sport where such drugs can make a HUGE difference in game outcomes and career longevity impacts their eligibility

    We know these guys are just the tip of the iceberg of other players who did the same too, but weren’t necessarily accused or caught

    As far as Pete Rose, betting on baseball games is a whole different animal – but I believe one could focus on his accomplishments as a player only

  25. davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I’m pretty solidly in the anti-PED crowd, and additionally I sports-hate Bonds because I’m a Dodger fan and he played for the Giants. That said, it would be an absolute crime for him (and Clemens) to be kept out of the Hall of Fame. I tend to think Hall voting is much more art than science, and I think voters should use their best judgement to try to discount a player’s performance vs their PED usage. For example, without the juice, both Bonds and Clemens were both sure-fire, inner-circle Hall of Famers. I tend to think McGwire would’ve still hit 500 home runs, and the juice didn’t give him an added ability to draw walks, so he’s in for me too. Palmiero is an example of a guy who I wouldn’t put in. Like I said, art, not science. I obviously can’t prove exactly which home runs came from roids and which didn’t.

    And this is all predicated on KNOWING a guy juiced. Personal admission or positive test. No rumors or innuendo. Bagwell has to be in. Even Clemens has to be, because he hasn’t admitted it and he never tested positive, even though I’m 99% sure he used.

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