Skip to content

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. shynessismyelguapo - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    With the HOF voters current attitude toward steroids, even leaving out “suspected” users, it is highly likely that the 2017 HOF ballott will look like this:

    Barry Bonds
    Rogers Clemens
    Mike Mussina
    Jeff Bagwell
    Curt Schilling
    Frank Thomas
    Larry Walker
    Tim Raines
    Rafael Palmeiro
    John Smoltz
    Edgar Martinez
    Manny Ramirez
    Ivan Rodriguez
    Mark McGwire
    Jim Edmonds
    Mike Piazza
    Gary Sheffield
    Vladimir Guerrero
    Sammy Sosa
    Jeff Kent
    Fred McGriff

    Though I don’t think they should all go to the hall, each of them at least has a good argument that could be made for them and their election would be far from a Chick Hafey-esque stain on the hall.

    Any non Griffey/Maddux caliber player won’t stand a chance at election with so many other candidates taking up votes during this steroids battle. This wrangling over steroids is basically going to ensure that no one at all gets elected in the very near future.

    • pjmarn6 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:50 PM

      Craig Calcaterra is one prized chump. Had these two players not used the drugs that they took, they would not have been the players they were and would not have broken the records.
      Electing them to the hall of fame diminishes the records of the people who did not cheat and honestly made the records they broke.

      What would Craig Calcaterra say if those records did not exist if the two players had not cheated? Would they have naturally been worthy of the Hall of Fame. No one knows. But on the moral issue alone they should not be voted in. YES MORALS! Something that Craig Calcaterra appears to know nothing of.

      Would Craig Calcaterra go to a doctor who cheated during his medical school days and cheated on his tests to become legally a doctor?

      Would Craig Calcaterra send his children to a school whose teachers cheated during their college days and on their tests to be certified as teachers?

      The answer is of course no.

      It bewilders me that people expect politicians to be crooked and then expect to accept lying, cheating ball players as if they achieved these records without the use of performance enhancing drugs.

      Craig Calcaterra forgets one huge point. These records were obtained through the use of performance enhancing drugs! Then we should go back to all the records and increase them through mathematics to boost them as if the players of old had also used PEDs. Then the records would be unobtainable by modern day players and their achievements would then appear to be ordinary and not qualify them for the Hall of Fame.

      Of course of baseball wishes to create a Hall of Shame then all these doped up players could be elected to that Hall!

      • shoehorn2012 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:34 PM

        Actually in my opinion most baseball bloggers/writers/ whatever you want to call them…I find to be no smarter than the average fan…maybe dumber. I consider Craig to be one of the smarter/better ones and usually agree with him. But on this topic, I couldn’t disagree more. Craig…you’ve let me down. Probably unknowingly, this article makes a great argument for throwing a lot of the HOF’ers out, not for letting these cheaters with NO INTEGRITY in. Their cheating made them millions of dollars…so they got their rewards…much more then they deserved. If the the writers vote Bonds or Clemens in…the HOF has no integrity left. Craig…you need to re-think your position. You are flat-out wrong…wrong…wrong !!!

  2. plthompson - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    If these guys get for the accomplishments (regardless of their cheating), then Pete Rose should be the HOF too. Come on…let’s put him in before he dies!!

    • zax101 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:59 PM

      lets put Shoeless Joe in, or maybe McGwire or even Conseco…..Betting on games when your the manager of a team is the lowest form of cheating. Rose should never get in….The Hall of Fame should be the one institution that is beyond reproach when it comes to discriminating against known cheaters……Its Americas game and should be respected as such……

    • largebill - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Pete Rose should never be brought up in these conversations. His offenses against the game are so egregious that it is laughable to compare him to people suspected or even known to have used PED’s. Beyond that, there is as much or more reason to suspect Rose of steroid use as many of the players on the ballot who are being snubbed (big arms, acne, etc). While struggling to maintain his playing career in his 40’s Rose had a steroids dealer loser living at his house.

  3. buffalomafia - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:13 PM

    Who cares what they used! Can anyone prove that steroids makes u a better player?

    How come it was all right for Babe Ruth & other players to take greenies & be drunk?

    Vote them in!

    • davidpom50 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:19 PM

      1: Yes, it’s been proven beyond any doubt that steroids increase muscle mass, that increased muscle mass leads to increased bat velocity, increased bat velocity leads to increased struck ball velocity, and increased struck ball velocity leads to higher likelihood of achieving a base hit, and a higher likelihood of extra bases.

      2. It was alright for Babe Ruth to take greenies because greenies were not available when he played. It was alright for Hank Aaron to take greenies for most of his career because they were legal under the rules of baseball and laws of the United States. It was NOT alright for Bonds and Clemens to take steroids because they were NOT legal under the laws of the United States, and though not specifically banned by baseball for most of their careers, baseball DID prohibit the use of all illegal drugs, including steroids.

      But you’re right, vote them in because they were the very best hitter and pitcher of their generation, with or without the juice.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:05 PM

        1: Yes, it’s been proven beyond any doubt that steroids increase muscle mass, that increased muscle mass leads to increased bat velocity, increased bat velocity leads to increased struck ball velocity, and increased struck ball velocity leads to higher likelihood of achieving a base hit, and a higher likelihood of extra bases.

        Steroids have a markedly greater effect on upper-body strength than on lower-body strength.
        Batting is almost exclusively powered by lower-body strength.
        Beefcake doesn’t drive long balls.

        and discussing how much mass steroids could actually add to the body:

        For this thought experiment, I used ratios of both 4:1 and a more moderate 3:1 upper/lower differential. I’ll take the example of that 200-pound man who adds 20 extra pounds of pure muscle, a pretty substantial gain (and almost identical to that attributed to Barry Bonds).

        Skipping over the arithmetic, if the upper/lower ration is 4:1, he’ll be able to drive the ball an extra 30 inches or so; if it’s 3:1, that would go up to maybe 45 inches.

        45 additional inches of distance adding 20 lbs of muscle. Doesn’t really follow that it would make you that much better a player

        http://steroids-and-baseball.com/

        2. … It was alright for Hank Aaron to take greenies for most of his career because they were legal under the rules of baseball and laws of the United States

        Amphetamines are a Schedule II drug (1971) and were originally a Schedule III drug (along with steroids) which were made illegal under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

      • joegolfer - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:04 AM

        Wow, those lower body/upper body comparison stats from ChurchOfThePerpetuallyOutraged were really plucked out of thin air.
        I guess that’s why Olympic sprinters like Ben Johnson and Marian Jones didn’t improve much with PED’s. Because it is mainly for upper body only.
        Oh wait, they won Gold Medals, that is, until they had to give them back, just like Bonds should have to give back his HR records.
        I guess that’s what the politicians would certainly call “fuzzy math”, claiming that Bonds gained only 30″-45″ in distance. And bat speed certainly allows a player to catch up to and adjust to a pitch that they normally wouldn’t be able to, thus increasing their batting avg as well as their power.

  4. captiosus - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    The fact that the opinions on this topic are so polarized is proof enough that they should not be admitted into the HOF.

    The way I see it, the HOF is a place to honor baseball’s best but, more importantly, to honor baseball itself. Now bear in mind that these two players were at the center of the spotlight of the entire steroid-era/doping scandal. Their actions (or inactions) and attitudes kept them there for years and this scandal has kept a big black cloud over all of baseball that persists to this day.

    Consider Jose Bautista. When he went on an amazing home run tear in 2010 and 2011, you couldn’t bring up his home runs without someone accusing him of juicing. I heard similar “juicing” arguments brought up about Justin Verlander and several other players.

    This black cloud was perpetuated by Bonds and Clemens for years due to their own egos. It has negatively affected the sport, to the point where fans have tuned out or consider all players suspect.

    Their behavior, their lack of character and integrity, plagues MLB to this day and, as such, should rule them out based on the character clause. This polarized debate is proof of their deleterious effects.

  5. chief5675 - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:21 PM

    What is lunacy is listening to this guy who was paid to write”””ow stupid are AmerciaNS THESE DAYS” an article in favor of these cheats.
    One idiot claimed that Ruth plaYING DRUNK AIDED Him. Where did all these stupid Americans come from? No cheaters in the Hall of Fame. Screw the cheaters.

  6. ivetsfor - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    Their inclusion has a message for the kids… cheating is OK, drugs are OK, lying is OK. I’m sorry but I don’t really know how great they were but granted they were good. Is that good enough for the Cooperstown. As for pete Rose, he bet on his own team. “Let’s see, who should I bring in from the pen to pitch to this batter? Oh yah… there is a 3 run spread on this game.
    Think again,folks!

    • shynessismyelguapo - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:43 PM

      Oh, the “think of the children” argument.

      Happens every time.

  7. schrutebeetfarms - Nov 28, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    “But that little technicality aside, the Hall of Fame has long welcomed cheaters with open arms”

    I’m so tired of this argument. Baseball has never had replay, does that mean it should continue to not have replay?

  8. mrobsession - Nov 28, 2012 at 6:55 PM

    The thing that bothers me most about this issue is the fact that Major League Baseball essentially condoned PED use for many years. They created an unlevel playing field by turning a blind eye to what was going on. I really think people would be shocked to know how much of this was going on and how many players were involved.

    I don’t agree with people’s choices here, but we are talking about their livelihoods. This was their profession. People who succeed achieve fame and fortune. People who don’t are quickly dismissed and never heard of again.

    Even if you started out with a good moral compass, how long are you going to “stay clean” when everyone around you is raising the competitive bar with this behavior.

    Everyone likes to think they would be the good guy and I’m sure there were some good guys that never touched the stuff. I’m sure there are people who couldn’t make in the league because they wouldn’t and that is such a shame.

    But have no doubt that the players didn’t create the lawless environment that existed in the MLB for so many years. They were by no means saints, but they did what they had to do to get by when those who could have effected change chose to do nothing.

    It bothers me most that the MLB doesn’t step up and own up to what they did … for the environment that they allowed to fester in the game. Drawing in even the best of the best in an effort to compete. I don’t think the game every fully moves past this until that happens and the players that were involved are recognized as great players despite the era that they played in.

  9. pandebailey - Nov 28, 2012 at 7:17 PM

    Funny how nobody knows the history on Barry Bonds – before he started steroids, he was a .288 lifetime doubles hitter, a left fielder with a weak arm. After 12 years in MLB, he wasn’t even included in the top 100 players of the 20th century. He won MVP’s, but by default – playing in the weakest NL ever, his only competition was Andy Van Slyke, Bobby Bonilla and Terry Pendleton. Then came the steroids and everybody put him up as the greatest player ever. Sure, put an extra five years thru chemistry on anybody’s career and their stats look pretty good.

    So what was his lifetime BA, this great, great hitter? .344? .315? With a lot of juice, he made it up to .298. Not even a lifetime .300 hitter…….even with cheating. Pick somebody else for greatness and read some history.

    • wfon1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:29 PM

      i make the same opposite argument for Mark McGwire. He was hitting home runs since his very first year of MLB. Breaking the home run mark for rookies. HE should be in the hall based on this article also. Vote them all in.

    • The Dangerous Mabry - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:48 PM

      This is the same “lifetime doubles hitter” who had 334 home runs in those first 12 seasons, right? To go along with 417 stolen bases? Yeah, that’s a recipe for mediocrity. Those guys are a dime a dozen.

      And psh. What kind of a guy gets an MVP for hitting 30 homers, stealing 50 bases, driving in 114 runs and scoring 104 as well? I mean, that’s barely league average, am I right?

      And those other two MVPs in that time frame? Sure, an OPS+ over 200, but that’s a weak league! Nobody who hits .336/.458/.677 with 46 home runs, 29 steals, 123 RBI and 129 runs scored would win an MVP in a decent league!

      Spare us the silliness. It’s perfectly reasonable to dislike Barry Bonds. But to characterize him as a mediocre player for the first 12 years of his career is ridiculous.

  10. jimeejohnson - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:43 PM

    Americans are prudish hypocrites when it comes to drugs. All kinds of mood altering pills are legal, while many plants are illegal because they could do what the pharmaceutical drugs do for 1/10th of the price. It’s no wonder that drug use by America’s favorite pastime’s players could prevent their entrance into the HOF. Ty Cobb and the Babe partied their asses off, especially during Prohibition. That didn’t prevent them from getting in to the HOF, as well it shouldn’t have.

  11. Steve A - Nov 28, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    Haterz gon hate.

    • joegolfer - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:14 AM

      Let’s give up this “Haterz gon hate” or “haters gonna hate” talk already. Face it, folks: it’s played out. It’s yesterday’s news. It’s like saying, “My bad” when you make a mistake. It had it’s fifteen minutes of fame, but that time is passed except for a few idiotic reality tv “stars” on shows like Jersey Shore, along with phrases like “groovy” and “far out” from the 1970’s.

  12. simon94022 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    No Bonds and no Clemens means the Hall has no credibility. And the dinosaur sports “writers” who leave them off their ballots deserve no respect.

  13. zax101 - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:30 PM

    All you bleeding hearts….give every kid a trophy for playing……They cheat, they should never be considered. Bonds and Clemens cheated and showed NO integrity or Sportsmanship by cheating….they deserve a swift kick in the A-$!!! Cheaters should NEVER be considered…..

  14. nofunleague - Nov 28, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    No room for cheaters. That includes Rose and ARod. No room at all.

  15. illumnus - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:00 PM

    However, Craig, what about this argument:

    First, PEDs were used illegally: prescription medications used for purposes beyond those for which the medication is indicated and obtained without a prescription is a crime in every state. Second, the fact that noone knows who did what seems to be a reason to exclude known users more than to include them under such a specious argument (ie., since noone knows who did what, we’ll assume everybody did, thus leveling the playing field and reinforcing the magnitude of these players’ accomplishments). This is patently absurd. Players who did not use were at a competitive disadvantage. Who knows what those players could have accomplished compared to their peers had everyone been clean or everyone had been a user? Furthermore, many marginal players must have been using, thus keeping some clean players out of the big leagues, and away from their own dream of playing big league ball. There’s a moral argument to be made for falsely raising the bar of accomplishment required to become/remain a big-leaguer. Are the HOF voters supposed to be moral arbiters? Probably not. But when looking at HOF candidacy, it’s certainly a reasonable position to take. I agree that the HOF is a museum meant to document the history of the game. However, election also happens to be a tremendous honor, the highest anyone who ever played any level of baseball can achieve. Not granting this honor to someone who broke the law to elevate himself above other very skilled peers is a valid consideration by members of the BBWAA. Unfortunately, someone in authority (i.e.. the HOF, the Commissioner) is going to need to step up and make a declaration on this issue. Since enforcing any such authority would require proving the allegations, no such declaration is coming, and we’re forever stuck in this cycle of argument.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:33 PM

      So why has one class of PED, amphetamines, been okay and another, steroids, not? Both are effective. Both are illegal without a prescription. However, there is a vocal group that either doesn’t care or refuses to believe the evidence that many luminaries, including Willie Mays, used amphetamines while wanting to tar and feather not just the known steroids users but also those who they think might have used them.

      • illumnus - Nov 29, 2012 at 10:47 AM

        It’s an excellent point that mine didn’t address, and I agree with you completely. We all just looked the other way on that one, and continue to do so to some degree. I don’t pretend to have the right answer, but I do think that not voting for these players is reasonable, not necessarily correct. It’s interesting to me that such a hot-button topic has now evolved into the same style of argument as DiMaggio-Mays, Montana-Brady, etc. I believe those arguments and the strong opinions on both sides are one of the great aspects of sports fandom. How this subject got there seems fascinating to me…

  16. Coffee & A Review - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Vote them in (though I’d be perfectly happy for the writers to make them wait until their second ballots). Bonds’ and Clemens’ stats merit a place in the HoF.

    I do, however, reserve the right to ignore/roll my eyes at their plaques next time I visit Cooperstown.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:39 PM

      I’ve always felt that the known steroid users should be voted in (or not) on their baseball merits, and then the positive steroid test/ criminal charge/admission/allegation should be included on the plaque.

  17. papared52 - Nov 28, 2012 at 10:39 PM

    Applying the rationale proposed in this article to other disciplines Lance Armstrong should never have had his Tour de France wins stripped because everyone was doing it, and the guy who cheated on the exams in med school should still get a medical license and the opportunity to practice medicine because, hey, he was smart enough to get into med school so he shouldn’t lose his chance to operate on people just because he was under pressure to excel and made some poor choices.

    Stats and egos aside, the bottom line is Bonds and Clemens made deliberate choices to gain an unfair advantage over their competitors. If they didn’t think steroids would improve their performance they wouldn’t have taken them, and if they had thought they were legitimate to use they wouldn’t have tried to hide their actions. We will never know what they could have achieved if they had played their entire careers without using performance enhancing substances, and that’s a shame because they may have been great players using only their natural gifts, but we won’t know because they didn’t give us that chance.

    • raysfan1 - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:44 PM

      You and pjmarn above both should stop the comparison between players cheating and medical students cheating. It’s not even apples to oranges, it’s apples to bricks. First, baseball is entertainment; it’s fun to watch and fun to argue about, but that’s it. A doctor who could not pass the licensure exams without cheating would be dangerous to people’s lives. Oh, and speaking as someone who has taken those exams–there are proctors watching every second, and video monitoring, and computer auditing of the results.

      If you want to keep the steroid abusers out, fine, but then stay intellectually consistent and want all amphetamine abusers out too.

  18. BigBeachBall - Nov 28, 2012 at 11:32 PM

    The HOF will let pete rose in before bonds

  19. ndrick731 - Nov 29, 2012 at 12:07 AM

    I love how you all want to say they didn’t break any rules. They didn’t break any rules because their went out of their way to make sure that testing was postponed as long as possible. The only reason they ever got testing in was because Congress was about to do something about it so the union had a give in or it would have been a lot worse for the players. And any of you who thinks that Bonds or Clemens doesn’t care about the Hall of Fame should get off this forum because your morons. Do you seriously think two of the most egotistical and arrogant players in the history of sports don’t care if they’re in the Hall of Fame.

  20. joerymi - Nov 29, 2012 at 1:08 AM

    They have to go in. The controversy of the era won’t be forgotton, you cannot simply pretend it did not happen. A large chunk of the era were on PEDs, yet we are only talking about a select group of players.

    Comparing eras is tricky. Seeing who was dominate during their era is not tricky. The era will always be stigmitized but records shouldn’t be changed or ignored retroactively.

  21. joegolfer - Nov 29, 2012 at 3:21 AM

    If Craig wants to put Bonds into the HOF, let’s do it.
    But not on a plaque listing accomplishments.
    Let’s put his face on the urinal cakes, where it belongs.
    Then we can all show him the respect he deserves.

  22. lawyermalloy - Nov 29, 2012 at 4:30 AM

    The sports writers association has entirely too much power in the HOF selection. To vote or Not to vote for a player should never be based on a voters Personal feelings, but statistics as they compare to past players, etc. Put an asterisk next to the players name if you wish, but to keep Roger Clemons and Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame borders on the insane.

  23. temporarilyexiled - Nov 29, 2012 at 8:17 AM

    I couldn’t agree with Craig’s points more…all of them. The comments are clearly running against his point of view, and that’s too bad. There needs to be a distinction drawn between the past, and the present and future. I’ve got no problem with cracking down hard on PED use as it comes to light going forward. But to try to come up with some sort of retributional justice regarding what’s happened in the past – when we can’t even accurately account for enough of the who, what, when, where, how, and why – is pathetic – and it smacks of small-minded people living in glass houses throwing their stones. If you really love baseball, you come to terms with the past in order to do a better job with the present and future – and you remember that it’s the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Popularity, nor the Hall of Virtue. The best museums tell the whole story.

    • phillyphil005 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Fantastic post, temporarilyexiled.

  24. mrbiz8505 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    They will get in eventually…… But they will have to wait. I think Bonds and Clemens will be the last of this class to get in

  25. phillyphil005 - Nov 29, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    A few things…

    1. The writers who vote for this are a complete joke. We’ve all witnessed complete head scratching votes and non votes. These guys don’t even go by the criteria they are supposed to, and they don’t form their own opinion…they follow the majority…what a shame these guys have the power to elect or not elect a player.

    2. Baseball embraced cheating and created this steroid era. The juiced the ball and glamorized the long ball…a big reason why Bonds started juicing, along with many others I imagine. They turned a blind eye cause it was bringing fans back and bringing more money in. They used these guys and now act as if they are poison to the game….again, pathetic on their part.

    3. Bonds sacrificed speed for power. If he doesn’t juice, you can probably guarantee he goes 600/600 for his career and possibly hits for an even higher average, as well as probably playing a couple more years since MLB wouldn’t be colluding to keep him out of the game.

    I don’t care if you wanna take the home run title away, and even make him wait till the second time around, but this man was the greatest hitter I ever saw…he saw maybe one decent pitch a game, and made the most out of it more than anyone. If he doesn’t get in, I will lose the little bit of respect I have left for the game and the hall itself.

Leave Comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

Featured video

Cubs shore up rotation with Jon Lester
Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. C. Gonzalez (2239)
  2. J. Grilli (2160)
  3. A. Pierzynski (2113)
  4. D. Young (2026)
  5. D. Ross (2010)
  1. S. Smith (1959)
  2. T. Stauffer (1853)
  3. D. Uggla (1719)
  4. J. Walden (1688)
  5. H. Kuroda (1646)