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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 EST

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. oswegosteve - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    I agree that Bonds and Clemens should be in HOF. However, I do not believe their plaques should mention their records as they were set under “enhanced” circumstances. With Bonds in particular, he should NEVER be mentioned as the home run king. Looking at the 5 yrs prior to 2000, he averaged 37 hr per season, then suddenly – at a time in a career where skills begin to diminish – he averaged 52 hrs per year over next 5 yrs. Using the previous 5 yrs and making all things equal, and even not taking into account what should have been diminished stats, Bonds final HR tally without PEDs would fall into the 689 HR range – certainly HOF material but not HR King worthy.
    Yes they were certainly great players, but they used less than honorable means in achieving “Best ever” status. Put them in the hall, but do not speak of their records.

    • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:50 PM

      Do you know that from ages 30-34 Hank Aaron hit 168 home runs but from age 35-39 he hit 203? Good thing today’s press wasn’t around when he was playing as everyone would accuse him of using steroids.

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

        Schlom your numbers are accurate, but your contextual knowledge is absent. The boost in HR numbers coincided with his moving from the worst HR hitters park in the majors to the best at the time. So he added a net average of 7 HR per season. And the delta is skewed as he moved to Atlanta in 1966 when he was 32. His final year in Milwaukee he hit 32 HR but hit 44 then 39 his first two seasons in Atlanta (ages 33-34). The second factor is that he turned 35 in 1969, when the league began freaking out about Bob Gibsons 1.12 ERA and had the mound lowered. Offensive output across the league ticked up in 1969. Before attempting to somehow use the ACTUAL HR Kings stats to defend Bonds you should learn a little more about the actual statistics. Have a nice day.

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

        Also, Hank Aaron was on amphetamines.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        @socktown

        so what you are saying is there are a ton of other factors that contributed to Aaron’s increased HR totals outside of his control, right? Couldn’t we say the same for Bonds, or is it just PED = HR king?

      • mortymcfearson - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:10 PM

        Forget the ‘roids, it was that ridiculously large shield that Bonds used to hide behind when he was at the plate that allowed him to hover over the plate. He should be excluded on the basis of using that thing.

      • ezthinking - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:11 PM

        socktown, 1968 was the Summer “Drug” Olympics in Mexico City. Go to SI.com there’s numerous issues on the subject. The Olympics started gender testing for Christ’s sake. You really think no ball player took steroids? How about how Cocaine and Heroine were legal until the mid-1920’s. Think everyone just stopped using? Get a clue.

        The best of the time are the best of the time. End of story.

      • ezthinking - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:37 PM

        mortymcfearson,

        If the shield is the issue, then Biggio is out too.

      • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:14 PM

        Socktown,

        Thanks for proving my point.

      • socktown - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:17 PM

        @ Church You are equating a ballplayer being moved from one home stadium to the next to someone seeking out chemical enhancement because they are jealous of the attention other ballplayers are receiving for their steroid induced home run feats? Feel free to have a substantive argument with me but your corollary is thin at best. My comments weren’t opinion, they were simple observation of historical fact.

        @kruegere The amphetamine issue is a non-starter. He admitted it, just like Bonds has admitted his steroid use. Oh, wait, there is a difference here isn’t there? Amphetamines don’t make you bigger, don’t make you stronger, and there is ample medical evidence that they cause physical and mental deterioration rather than improvements.

        @churchofthe…… Don’t tell me to “get a clue” you jerk. I never said Hank did or didn’t use, nor did I comment on any other ballplayer of his era. I was using a verifiable statistical and factual argument to refute a thin allegation of Hank Aaron somehow cheating or that his late career numbers somehow refute the statistical fact that people get less physically capable as they age. Even athletes. Your somehow connecting the poor son of a sharecropper with no formal education to a bunch of athletes in Mexico City who were 20 years younger than him is cute but pointless in this discussion.

        I’ve never seen a player who literally HATED every fan to ever walk through a turnstile, who was never liked or defended by a single teammate, who has been a pariah for his entire career and who stole glory with egregious cheating, defended so vaingloriously by so many people. Barry Bonds was, is, and always will be a jerk. Does that mean he shouldn’t be in Cooperstown? No. If he admitted the PEDs and abdicated his post 1998 numbers I would caste a vote for him myself. But he hasn’t, he won’t, and Cooperstown will be without his bust for the foreseeable future.

      • djpostl - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        @schlom

        He didn’t prove your point. He decimated it.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:05 PM

        @ Church You are equating a ballplayer being moved from one home stadium to the next to someone seeking out chemical enhancement because they are jealous of the attention other ballplayers are receiving for their steroid induced home run feats? Feel free to have a substantive argument with me but your corollary is thin at best. My comments weren’t opinion, they were simple observation of historical fact.

        Actually what I was arguing was that there are more important factors in someone’s ability to hit HR’s than merely STEROIDS!. People think Bonds went from 30s/40s to 70s SOLELY because of ‘roids are unable to explain why he didn’t continually hit 60 to 70, or why others who took PEDs didn’t do the same thing.

        I’m saying there are many other factors that can contribute to the increase in HR. Changing stadiums, changes in the ball, changes in weather, etc. Just like you wrote about Aaron…

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:55 PM

        @church “or why others who took PEDs didn’t do the same thing.”

        Uh… because they started at a much lower baseline than Bonds. That seems obvious to me. If I were to have taken steroids when I played baseball, I would not have ever set the major league home run record… but I might have made the high school varsity team. If a career high-A player takes steroids, he isn’t gonna break the major league home run record… but he might make it to AAA, or maybe even get an MLB cup of coffee. If a Major League bench player takes steroids, he isn’t going to break the major league home run record. But he might become a starter, or make even make an All-Star game. If one of the very best players of his generation takes steroids, he’s going to put up ridiculous video game numbers. Why would we expect a player who, without taking steroids, wasn’t nearly as good as non-steroidal Bonds to become as good as juiced up Bonds with the exact same drugs?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:20 PM

        Uh… because they started at a much lower baseline than Bonds

        Or it’s possible that steroids don’t have the affect some of you think they do on a player? Tons of people used steroids during that period, many of whom hit more HR on a per year basis than Bonds but they never came close to 73 (some did like Sosa/McGwire). Isn’t it entirely possible that there are other outside factors that have a greater impact on HRs than steroids?

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:25 PM

        @socktown–
        Steroids do not make you bigger and stronger. They are anti-inflammatory drugs. They enable a player to work out longer/harder and recover quicker. Getting the performance enhancement from them still requires work. They also have hormonal effects analogous to testosterone on emotions, aggression, and metabolism. They as many long-term deleterious effects as amphetamines also.

        Amphetamines are able to provide short term increases the energy and the ability to focus. If you cannot see how those two effects would enhance a player’s performance, then there is just no helping you.

        Both are effective PEDs.

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

      The man won 3 MVPs and what 6 GGs before PED use was alleged. There is no way you could possibly accurately extrapolate what the man’s career would have been without the PEDs. He was forced out of baseball at the age of 42 after hitting 28 HRs in 477 ABs. Can you really convince me or yourself that he couldn’t be peppering the RF seats in Yankee Stadium this spring if he never took PEDs?

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:29 PM

        Have you seen pictures of Bonds recently? In addition to being 47 years old, he looks like a deflated balloon without the juice. So yeah, I’m definitely, 100%, without a doubt convinced he would not be peppering the seats in Yankee Stadium this spring if he never took PEDs. Take off your orange tinted glasses.

        But I still think his accomplishments during his career make him an inner circle Hall of Famer.

      • orangecisco - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:02 PM

        Guess you have a hard time with reading comprehension. He wouldn’t be deflated if he never took PEDs. He would have had his normal incredibly athletic body his entire career. So at 47 he could still stroll up to the plate 4 times a game and plant one in the seats every 20 ABs. The point was it is impossible to say he would not have reached Hank Aaron if he didn’t take PEDs. And I’m a Yankee fan and was never a Barry Bonds fan.

      • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:15 PM

        Holy crap, are you saying that Barry Bonds doesn’t lift weights like he used to during his playing days? I find that inconceivable.

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:47 PM

        Orange, guess you haven’t seen the pictures I’m talking about. He’s significantly smaller than he was in 1997, before it’s suspected he started juicing. 47 year old men cannot maintain the incredibly athletic bodies of their youths without steroids. Not even ones with perfect genetics and decades of hard training, like Bonds. There is no way in hell he would’ve hit 28 home runs in 2007 without juice, let alone continued to hit bombs at nearly 50.

      • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:01 PM

        @david, in 2004 Barry Bonds’ job was to hit baseballs. He felt it aided him if he worked out, like a lot. people like Gary Sheffield could not keep up with Bonds.

        in 2011 Barry Bond’s job was to hide from the media, and apparently ride bikes. He no longer needs to work out like he did in his early 40s. Of course he is going to look “deflated”

    • frankiesant - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

      Well, better get used to the idea, Craig, because they WILL be kept out! And rightly so.

      This worship of two liars and serial cheaters is flat out nonsense.

    • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:58 PM

      so in this Bonds sample you are stop before the strike shortened year where he hit 37 in a league leading (read:did not miss a game) 144 games? and 1993 when he moved from three rivers to candlestick where he hit a league leading 46?

      From 1988 to 1998 he was in the to 10 for NL home runs 9 times (1st=1 2nd=2, 3rd=1, 4th=3, 9th=2)

      similar figures of AB to HR ratio in that time. HE was one of the best HR hitters if his era.

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:02 PM

        “similar figures of AB to HR ratio in that time.”

        Nope. Bonds’ 7 best AB/HR ratios all came in 1999-2004, which is pretty much acknowledged as the time he started juicing.

      • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:06 PM

        what are you talking about?

        you can’t compare 1988-99 with 2000- 2004 AB/HR ratio because that’s when he started walking all the time.

        I was saying his HR/AB and HR ratio appearances on the leader bords were similar in that time

      • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:09 PM

        Uh… Walks have little effect on AB/HR ratios… they are neither ABs nor HRs… You brought up the ratios. The ratios say the exact opposite of what you said they say.

  2. lgwelsh1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Barry Bonds was the greatest baseball player of his era and easily in the discussion for the greatest of all time. I can’t see how they don’t vote him in.

    • basedrum777 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

      He broke the one rule that is unbreakable for professional sports. If you don’t know everyone is on a level playing field then you’re watching professional wrestling. The outcome can’t possibly be fair in that case because you can’t force EVERYONE to use steroids. Were Bonds and Clemens HOF’ers before their alleged use? I think so. Are they now HOF’ers? Absolutely not. And my favorite player of all time is pre-roids Bonds.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:36 PM

        The unbreakable rule in sports is to always try to win. Professional wrestling is a good example because the result of the bouts is predetermined. Steroid or amphetamine users are not throwing games or shaving points, they are attempting to gain an advantage in trying to win. They are cheating, but they are not damaging the integrity of the game

  3. lphboston - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    Allow me to interrupt the hero worship going on here, especially by the author.

    With Bonds and Clemens it was always about Bonds and Clemens. Bonds was jealous of other players hitting home runs, so his ego forced him to juice. He didn’t care about some schmuck pitcher who was trying to grind out a living, just that his massive ego was satisifed.

    Same deal with fat-ass Clemens. He was a turd in his final years in Boston, so he opted for the needle. And given his rage in that Oakland playoff game, he may have even started earlier.

    Point is, the author made a mistake in ASSUMING that both of these jerks began injecting themselves mid-career. Could have been earlier, which would call into question ALL of their numbers, not just fromt the point where we figured they started.

    No now. No forever.

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

      With Rice and Ted Williams on your tally sheet, I can’t see how being a jerk should be exclusion to the hall. Then there’s Manny, Pedro, Schilling, Fisk, not to mention how much Boston deserved Bobby V. as lead asshole that you can claim moral high ground on players not playing for team only. If that was true, the Red Sox might have won a championship or two from 1918 to 2004.

      • lphboston - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:33 PM

        What makes you think I’m a Red Sox fan? I’m not. And I agree that Rice, Ramirez and Schilling should not be in the HoF. As much as a jerk Martinez was (showing up whenever he felt like it until Jimy Williams called him on it), you can’t keep him out.

        I despise the Red Sox and the entitlement atmosphere that the players have enjoyed for decades.

  4. jonrox - Nov 28, 2012 at 1:52 PM

    In debates like these, I also like to point out that everyone who played before Jackie Robinson undoubtedly had his stats inflated by the exclusion of black players because they were playing against weaker competition.

    • hansob - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

      There also wasn’t 30 teams and 150 starting pitcher slots. That dilutes the talent level quite a bit, too.

      • jonrox - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:21 PM

        The world’s population has expanded faster than the number of MLB teams or roster players. In the 1920s there were approximately 2 billion people worldwide compared to 400 players in the MLB (16 teams x 25 players). Now there are approximately 7 billion people worldwide (3.5x more) and 800 players in the MLB (2x more). This actually means that the world’s baseball talent has become MORE concentrated since the 1920s (I’d also venture a guess that a greater percentage of population today is now actively involved in baseball, not just in the United States but worldwide)

        Point is that before integration in baseball, some of the world’s best baseball players were blocked from competing in the MLB. The players who were permitted to compete, therefore, faced lesser competition than they otherwise would have. Considering the population concentration today compared to the past, those baseball players in the past were likewise facing inferior competition.

      • schlom - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:56 PM

        You should probably use US population instead of world population.

      • jonrox - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:31 PM

        The U.S population has also almost tripled since the 1920s (approx: 115m in 1925, 310m today). However, US population isn’t entirely relevant since there are a lot more foreign-born players now than there were.

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:01 PM

        Ah, but you should include the entire baseball-playing population of the world now because it improves your point. Pre-integration MLB was not only whites only, it was also pretty exclusively North American only. Thus the available population for producing ball players has far more than tripled.

  5. stoutfiles - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:06 PM

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

    People who get caught cheating in the modern era are punished for it. I don’t really care if they make the Hall anyway, it’s become a silly popularity contest.

  6. greatdayfortwo - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:10 PM

    Maybe the marquee out front in Cooperstown should be one of those rotating billboards and have two messages: “Welcome to the Hall of Fame!” and “Welcome to the Hall of Infamy!”.

    • ezthinking - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:14 PM

      Maybe Cooperstown should stick with “National Baseball Museum.”

  7. caribbeancruzn - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    I don’t disagree that these two belong in the Hall of Fame…however, if they do, then so does Pete Rose. Someone else posted that perhaps their records should be left off their plaques – maybe so. I have less of a problem putting Pete Rose in, when he made a mistake or had a gambling addiction – than to leave him out & go ahead & put in athletes who purposely enhanced their performances with drugs. No one has taken away OJ Simpson’s Hall of Fame plaque since he has been serving time in jail.

    • ralphross373 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:10 PM

      Bottom line I think Rose, Bonds and Clemens do belong in the Hall of Fame; but whenever anyone statistically is worthy of the HOF but lacks some degree of character, I would like to see a win-win. Specifically; for Rose, Bonds and Clemens to get in the HOF, they must come clean ‘AND’ they must perform some type of public service that benefits baseball and our communities. This way their sports accomplishment is recognized, they become a better person and we all gain. Why not a win-win – just have the commissioner assign an arbitrator to figure out how to handle each case.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM

      Everyone in baseball knows that betting on baseball will get you banned from baseball and Rose did it anyway. Betting on baseball makes the honesty of the effort to win questionable. Is he trying as hard when he doesn’t bet on his team to win? Is not betting a signal to his bookie that his team won’t win that day? Did he always bet the same amount? If not, then there’s also a question of whether he tried harder in games in which he bet more. Plus all of that is assuming he never bet against his team. Sorry, no sympathy for Rose. His misdeeds were were worse than the steroid cheaters. Additionally, he used amphetamines, which were illegal without a legit prescription after 1971, and which are also PEDs.

  8. brewcrewfan54 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:24 PM

    Who cares anymore. The Hall lets in guys who’s numbers don’t warrant entry, they keep guys out for no reason other than suspicion (Bagwell, Thomas eventually) and now these 2 jokers at the same time. Let ‘em in, don’t let ‘em what’s it matter anymore. Its a joke.

  9. florida727 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    The one commonality that they share is that they both cheated. The cheated the game. They cheated the fans. And they cheated themselves. For the rest of their lives, they’ll have to ask themselves one simple question: “could I have done it without PEDs?” The Hall of Fame is a special place of HONOR, not a place for cheaters who padded their statistics inappropriately. BTW, I was a huge Roger Clemens fan. Got to meet him and his wife coming off a golf course in Florida. He couldn’t have been nicer. I genuinely liked him and rooted for him. I just don’t think he belongs in the Hall because of the PEDs.

    • b453841l - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Why will they have to ask that?

    • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:11 PM

      I am a fan. How did they cheat me? Seriously. I want to know.

      the fact that they used supplements that were subsequently banned makes no difference in my life. It doesn’t make me miss my train. I don’t pick up my kids any differently. I don’t enjoy watching baseball any less.

  10. Hoss - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:34 PM

    I didn’t read any of this but I think they are both cheaters and should have their careers wiped from the records all together. erase them out of existence if possible.

  11. thebadguyswon - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    The very time spent arguing this garbage is lunacy.

  12. bigjimatch - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:41 PM

    BB and RC aren’t going to excluded from the HoF because the used PEDs; they are going to be excluded because they used PEDs, continue to deny it, and most importantly, no one likes them.

  13. toddbook - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    The only way those jerks should get in is if they have a “special” section of the Hall for cheaters.

    Before anyone that used enhancement drugs gets in. Pete Rose has to be in. It’s pathetic that he
    is still not in.

  14. sailbum7 - Nov 28, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Maybe they should eventually be allowed in, but at a minimum they should not get in on a first ballot as penance for their PED use. I also do not think that Bonds should ever be considered the home run king. Without the use of steroids he never would have gotten near Aaron’s record.

  15. richyballgame - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    They shouldn’t get in on their first ballots. Biggio and Piazza in my opinion,should get the call.

  16. richyballgame - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    I’d also like to add that incident in the 2000 World Series,where Clemens’ roid rage was put on full display when he threw the barrel of the bat at Mike Piazza, and his excuse was, “He thought it was the ball”.

  17. stanmrak - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:14 PM

    Cheating is part of sports at all levels. Let’s stop pretending otherwise. Just about everyone does it. Even my 14 year old was coached in cheating by his soccer coach. Baseball just wants to maintain its sancrosact status in the culture, but it’s too late.

    • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:47 PM

      Well, then we should all embrace cheating!

  18. dallasstars9 - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    To be a HoF type caliber player, it’s not just how you played the game on the field, but also how you represented yourself and the game off the field. Bonds and Clemens cheated. Would you tell your son or daughter to live up to this example? I would hope not. The HoF needs to make a statement and not allow these players to be part of something that so many others have taken the responsibility and played the game the way it was meant to be played.

    • b453841l - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:12 PM

      I understand looking at the character aspect of players, but don’t you think it’s a bit of a red herring? Will Bobby Cox (wifebeater), Tony LaRussa (drunk driver) not be admitted because of their moral transgressions, and will those issues even be on the radar?

      In baseball’s Hall of Fame are racists, philanderers, drunks, and rapists. I find the requirement that “someone you want your kids to emulate” disingenuous when the line that line is firmly drawn at PED use but blatantly ignores other serious criminal activity.

      • dallasstars9 - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:52 PM

        This is about the game of baseball, not a court of law and everyone makes mistakes off the field, I get it. Taking PED’s is cheating the game and giving yourself an unfair advantage. Beating your wife or driving drunk doesn’t make you a better baseball player.

      • b453841l - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:35 PM

        I agree with that line of reasoning, dallas, but I was responding to you saying that it’s important “how you represented yourself and the game off the field,” which encompasses unsavory things that do not actually make you a better player. Your initial comment seemed to explicitly state that. If your view is that they cheated baseball, that’s legitimate, but then it really isn’t about “how you represented yourself and the game off the field,” it’s about how you “cheated” and “fraudulently excelled on-field.”

      • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:28 PM

        Okay, then be consistent and campaign for all PED users to excluded from the HoF. Amphetamines, AKA greenies or speed, enable a player to focus better and have more energy–thus enhancing their playing ability. Using them is cheating in the exact same way that using steroids is cheating. You should want amphetamine users out of the HoF…of course, that means kicking Willie Mays and Hank Aaron out.

    • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:13 PM

      If you are telling your children to use any athlete as a role model for being an athlete you should call CPS on yourself

      • dallasstars9 - Nov 29, 2012 at 11:54 AM

        You’re an idiot.

  19. dowhatifeellike - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    Put them in but not right away – let them stew over it for a couple decades.

  20. toosano - Nov 28, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    They should be in the hall because even if they did it wouldn’t be enough to affect most of their records? Did I read that right?
    Jeesh.

  21. justsayin' - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    They cheated. Plain and simple. To rationalize this in any way undermines and is a disservice to the accomplishments that every player before contributed. Not to mention the benchmark left for others to chase. They’re called Performance Enhancement for a reason. To say others did it, sounds childish; you hear the same case made in elementary schools across the nation. Every other sport strips titles and excludes honors, from cyclists to stallions. Major League Baseball seems to care more about the ramifications of placing bets than shooting dope. Bonds, Clemens and Sosa shouldn’t be kept out of the Hall because of some character clause. They should be kept out because what they did was simply wrong. And perhaps even worse, they diminished the sport, leaving it in a worse place than when they entered it.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:43 PM

      Baseball is worse off than before Bonds, Clenmens and Sosa were in MLB? This year the Rays drew fewer fans than any other team in MLB at 1.55 million. In 1983, (year before Clemens’ debut) there were 12 of the 26 teams that drew fewer than that and 3 drew fewer than 1 million. In what world is MLB worse off?

      You are right, steroids enhance performance, and using them is cheating. Amphetamines also enhance performance, and using them is cheating. However, a number of known amphetamine users are in the HoF.

      Betting on baseball also is worse than PED use. PED use is cheating to try to win. Betting on baseball by a player or manager calls into question whether the individual or team is actually trying to win then on games when they don’t bet, or at least not trying as hard…and how does one know that individual never bet on the other team.

  22. fissels - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    They should not have cheated. Period.

    • clydeserra - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:14 PM

      they did. What now?

      • fissels - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:52 PM

        They pay the price. Stay out of the hall. They knew the stakes. No sympathy.

  23. ballparkprints - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Everyone should just shut-up about this. I don’t know who did what, if they did anything or does it really make you a superstar.

    I don’t know if someone in the past did anything. I don’t care about any of that “stuff”.
    The game is incredibly hard to play at the MLB level something none of us can truly understand. These are truly gifted individuals with eyesight and eye-hand coordination we can only imagine.

    Years ago in a scientific journal a scientist wrote that MLB outfielders possesses the same ability as hawks as they track their prey in running down fly balls.
    We all played baseball as kids only 720 men play on the MLB level.

    As for the sports writers I say take the voting process away from them and give it to the players.

    Oh-by-the-way the Clarke family of Cooperstown privately owns the Baseball Hall of Fame. Hmm I wonder how much money it makes????

  24. behaviorquest - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:40 PM

    Why should we honor those that qualify for the Hall of Shame. They didn’t earn their records above board. They should not even be considered. Look at Lance Armstrong why should this be any different? Barry, Roger, and others that use the juice or in Barry’s the cream and the clear deserve no mention in record books. I can’t believe people will support cheaters. What happened to the “Honor Code”, Oh, that’s right there is no honor in professional sports!

  25. IdahoMariner - Nov 28, 2012 at 4:57 PM

    i think bonds and clemens are both nasty pieces of work, terrible human beings, neither of whom would i point to as any kind of role model for my child or any kid i care about. it’s not just the cheating – in fact, it’s more everything else that has been reported about or demonstrated on and off the field by them. so many things, it’s impossible to begin to list them.

    but both absolutely belong in the hall of fame. to say otherwise is ridiculous.

    galls me, because i hate to see asshats celebrated even for the things that are unrelated to their asshatery, but they both belong in.

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