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Will Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens ever get into the Hall of Fame?

Jan 9, 2013, 3:31 PM EDT

Barry Bonds Convicted Of One Count Of Obstruction Of Justice Getty Images

If you had asked me before 2pm today I would have guessed that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens would have received around 50% of the vote. Not a lot given their baseball accomplishments, but a healthy vote for two players so thoroughly associated with PEDs.  But they fell far short: Clemens received 37.6% of the vote, Bonds 36.2%.

I think there are two distinct groups of voters who voted no on these guys this year (1) the never ever voters; and (2) the not this year voters.  The never ever voters will, obviously, never-ever vote for a PED user. They have drawn a bright moral line and will not consider these two no matter what happens.   The not this year voters are voters who took Bonds’ and Clemens’ first year on the ballot as an opportunity to lodge a protest vote. I recall reading many columns by these sorts, all of whom said some version of “I may vote for them in the future, but I don’t know what to do with them now …” or something like it.

For Clemens and Bonds to make it in, that second camp has to be gigantic. And frankly, I can’t see it being such a large group of people that it will allow them to jump up by nearly 40% in the vote be it next year or ten years from now.  Given how low their vote totals are the never ever camp has to comprise more than 25% of the electorate, and it only takes one more than 25% of the electorate to block a player.

Maybe attrition changes this, but I have my doubts. It’s fashionable to say that the “old man” voters oppose Bonds and Clemens and then assume that, over time, those voters will die off while younger, more progressive voters fill the BBWAA’s ranks. But I don’t necessarily buy that. There are a lot of “old man” voters who don’t think PEDs are a mortal sin. Maybe because they remember segregation and its after effects, greenies, cocaine and all manner of other bad things and know damn well that there are worse things in baseball than someone taking steroids.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of Hall of Fame voters south of 50 who are among the most virulent anti-PED guys as you’ll find anywhere.  Even if you’re counting on attrition, it’s going to take longer than the 14 years Bonds and Clemens have on the ballot to make a difference.

No, the only chance those two have to make the Hall of Fame is for some sort of fundamental change in the process to happen. For the BBWAA to alter the composition of its electorate, for MLB and the Hall of Fame to come out with some sort of formal diktat that PED use should not be considered in Hall of Fame voting or for the BBWAA to have the Hall of Fame vote taken away from it altogether.

I don’t see any of those three things happening. And for that reason, I don’t see Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens getting into the Hall of Fame without a ticket any time soon.

132 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. ndrick731 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:49 PM

    Two arrogant ass’s that cheated. Shoeless Joe Jackson only cheated once although admittedly on much worse scale. If you are going to go on stats only he needs to go in too.

    • BigBeachBall - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:30 PM

      As bonds, clemens, and company were jamming a needle in their buttcheeks at 6am in the morning…. do you think they were thinking, “man, this might hurt my chances to get into the hall of fame?”

  2. millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    Ok lets get serious about this issue. I don’t like Clemens nor Schilling or Piazza and hold no brief for the other players either. I don’t approve of the use of PEDS . However, the reality is that many players have been using it and it is impossible to say for certain that any particular player is completely clean and at the risk of blasphemy i include in that list Griffey Jr and Jeter. The beneficial effects of the drugs have also not been fully established. For example the quality of PEDS used by Clemens must have been superior to that used by Grimsley or how else do you explain the difference in their performance. The solution is not to make a self righteous position but to seek to find a practical solution. The exclusion by Piazza, Schilling and others against whom no evidence has been supplied without explanation must mean that an unknown standard is now being utilized. if suspicion is the standard then it should be clear by now that all of baseball is under a cloud of suspicion. We cannot give a pass to our favourite players while condemning those we don’t like.

  3. boondocksaint7 - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:04 PM

    They received fame and an outrageous amount of money during their playing days because they were dominant players. They continued to dominate over the years due in large part to PEDs. Baseball doesn’t owe them anything. I hope they never get in! This is the one true way they will suffer and pay for cheating.

    • Marty - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:44 PM

      Bonds hit HR 755 off of Clay Hensley who tested positive as well.

      Kind of antithetical to cheating if you ask me.

      But don’t stop that from patting yourself on the back, presumably from the sofa in the suburbs without a lick of athletic ability to speak of.

  4. cranespy - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    They WILL get in ONLY when they both come clean and end the lies. Barry tried the Never Knowingly crap and Rog licked his lips while continuing the holier than thou crap. Everyone knows they both did it but neither is smart enough nor honest enough to once and for all tell the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth. If they did they would be in within two years and lauded as heroes who came clean…..watch and see…Lance will do it and he will overcome it.

    • millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:50 PM

      ok smarty is that why they let Mark McGuire in along with Jose Canseco? oops naaah sorry they still waiting right!

  5. Marty - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:39 PM

    A baseball “Hall of Fame” without Pete Rose and Barry Bonds should change its name.

  6. 85pmart - Jan 11, 2013 at 8:31 AM

    Let’s have a separate HOF for roid rage era players tainted by PEDs. Could turn BALCO space into RRHOF.

  7. tonyc920 - Jan 11, 2013 at 7:12 PM

    I wish them no I’ll will, but I hope they NEVER EVER get voted in. Can you imagine the example that would set for the next generations of baseball players.

  8. mathman212013 - Jul 29, 2013 at 10:11 AM

    If we are all REALLY fans of the game, why doesn’t anyone EVER talk about the owners that allowed for this mess to end up in their system. The owners just sit there and rake in the dollars as we bicker about one, two or five guys and whether or not they should be in the HOF. If they were REALLY concerned about cheating and PED’s, guys like MELKY CABRERA would not get a nice, 2-year, multiple million dollar deal the VERY NEXT YEAR after being found using PED’s. And if we were all REALLY fans of the game, we would protest or at least comment on issues like those. How can you pay a guy that much money if he is a known cheater?

    As a fan, I will still have a sting, and forever have a little bit of a sadness, anger and skepticism as the players and owners left me alone in the summer of 1994. They didn’t care that I was a fan or that I supported the sport by going to any of the ballparks. They just quit on me as the millionaires fought the billionaires.

    We tried to show them we meant business, by not going to games as much in the next few years. But, when McGwire and Sosa went to the plate in 1998, we all watched as 500ft shots and multiple homeruns games seemed to happen daily. They saw us watching (we’re fans….we love the long ball). They KNEW these players were on something. And forgive me fans, but, WE knew these players were doing something different (c’mon…BRADY ANDERSON…50homers…really?!). It wasn’t a big deal then. We came back to the ballparks in droves. They watched us come back to the ballparks and never said, “ok guys, the fans are back now. You can stop using whatever you’re using”. Nope they let us (fans, media writers, players, congress, BALCO) sort it all out, while they still make dough (and I am not against makin’ a ton of cash). They made A-ROD hog-nasty-stink rich! And they continue to (over)pay these players crazy amounts of dough.

    Come on, think about it. Some of our BEST players of this particular time in baseball have used PED’s. Where is the incentive NOT to? They have been allowed to take care of 5-10 generations of their families by using PED’s. The HOF is not going to be special as long as the beast keeps getting fed and yet we keep saying “bad beast, bad beast”, there will always be a conflict. How is it that we cheer someone in the day and curse them at night? We did not care in 1998-2001, when balls flew out of the park. Those players will continue to be scrutinized. Even the folks who voted for MVP and Cy Young awards CONTINUED to give these awards to guys they now swear to never vote into the HOF. It didn’t matter then. And guess what, top players, even the best ones, even the ones that started out caring about the game are going to care less and less about getting in there.

    There does need to be something done about “cheating” in baseball. Though I am getting more and more confused on what that means. Does that mean players that cheat don’t get in the hall. Will it matter if THEY don’t care anymore about being in the HOF? Will it matter if owners continue to (over)pay these incredible salaries to known cheaters? Will we continue to support this game? I will…I’m a fan!!! Though I will do it consciously, knowing that some of the great ones could be “gettin’ some extra help”.

    And for the record, I am not even sure how much stock I put into slandering players that use PED’s. No matter what, you don’t get better hand-eye coordination from something you ingested or injected. The ball still comes in a 90+ mph. The ball still curves and slides and floats in the strike zone. And please players, continue to hit it as far as you can.

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