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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. nightrain42 - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:03 PM

    Look, every era had its cheats,(greenies, scuffing the ball, greasing the ball, corked bats) it happens. I personally say let bonds and Clemens in. Bonds especially. While roids may help you throw a ball harder, they won’t help you hit a curve or slider. If it was as simple as roids getting you to the big leagues, I wld hve taken them instead of being a beer league player on Sundays. Sosa and McGuire weren’t HOFers prior to roids, bonds/Clemens were. Get off the soap box. MLB shld hve addressed roids long before they came prevelant.

    • joegolfer - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      Actually, steroids will help your batting average in addition to your power. You’ll catch up to balls that you normally wouldn’t. You’ll hit fastballs that normally would have been in the catcher’s mitt. You will be able to make adjustments to get the bat on the ball, even breaking balls, in many cases. You may not make great contact on all breaking balls, but if you put it into play, you’ve got a chance to get on base, something you didn’t have if you whiffed it. A cheap “ducksnort” hit still counts as a hit in the boxscore, while a whiff would still be a whiff.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:33 AM


      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:13 AM

        [citation needed]

      • rkb555 - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:18 AM

        roids will not improve one’s reflexes and strength is minimal. Steroids give thicker muscle mass to aid in minimizing injury and recovering faster.

      • dodgersfan1947 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

        These views are based on what extensive research? Don’t hide your opinion behind fake science.

  2. ha5ko - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:31 PM

    As a baseball fan , i think this sucks, every aspect of this. So i blame the cheaters for making this suck

  3. randygnyc - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:34 PM

    Cheaters don’t belong in the HOF. Some may have already slipped through the cracks. That doesn’t excuse what’s happening currently.

    • rkb555 - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      Regardless of how u feel about some players randyg, the hall of fame is a museum collection- a history of players who are the representation of the best to play the game. The operative word randyg is history. History should not be bias. It should tell the truth and the whole truth not just your version so that generations after you will appreciate the context baseball fits into our society.

      No person or group should define or shape history. It is what it is for better or worse. Slavery is part of american history yet u don’t remove it and cherry pick only the best moments of history. They should be in the hall of fame. If you are to judge such players that should be on a personal level.

  4. philliephaninva - Jan 9, 2013 at 6:44 PM

    Make a special place in the Hall and label it CHEATERS. Take all the cheaters that are in the hall currently and move them to this place. Any cheaters that happen to make it in afterwards will have a place to go and lots of company.

    • vfanrj - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:46 PM

      I’m not sure how serious philliep is but think about this. This is a great idea. I believe such a prolific lable could serve as a deterent. If athletes understand the risk of being marked as a HoF Cheater for multiple lifetimes, that is different than running the risk be staying obscure with everyone else who didn’t make the HoF. I think this idea has legs.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 9, 2013 at 10:51 PM

        Will you feel the same when they move Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry I to that wing for using spitballs? Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and others for amphetamine use? Ty Cobb for sharpening his spike in order to injure opposing players? You should also realize I could keep going for a very long time with this.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:12 AM

        …or do you just mean a certain kind of cheater? I was of course being somewhat facetious before, reductio ad absurdum. no, i do not think a cheaters wing is a good idea because there are lots of different ways of cheating and lots of cheaters in already. There are also people who did far worse things than cheat already in too, notably Tom Yawkey–a racist owner who usedhis position to help prevent integration and thus cheating fans from being able to see all the best players go against each other. However, I’ve posted several times before that the plaques and exhibits in the HOF should include the warts along with the accomplishments. Accuracy of history is important to me, wanting a pristine shrine of horsehide virtue is not. I care about the HOF as the museum the preserves the 160 year history of a sport I love. That museum lost more than $2 million last year. Those losses will now be higher because the influx of visitors around the induction week is a major source of the annual income there, and it will be nil this year.

        Frankly, I don’t care a whole lot if some feel steroid use is blasphemy or whatever. Fine, don’t vote the known users in then. However, not voting for Biggio, Raines, Trammell, and others who clearly had HOF careers could in the long run lead to monetary losses the HOF can’t cover. Make the HOF too small and you may have no HOF.

    • tuberippin - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:24 AM

      So….like 30% or more of the HOF?

  5. leukevent - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    I have to agree with the sports writers not voting for Bonds and Clemons and think that any athelete known to be using PED’s should be banned from even playing. as most of these drugs are known to give those taking them an edge!

    It truely is a shame in that both of these players probably had enough innate ability to have great careers (with maybe fewer Cy Youngs and or MVP awards) and might have been inducted in to the Hall of Fame even if they hadn’t used PED’s!

  6. leukevent - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:23 PM

    I have to agree with the sports writers not voting for Bonds and Clemons and think that any athelete known to be using PED’s should be banned from even playing. as most of these drugs are known to give those taking them an edge!

    It truely is a shame in that both of these players probably had enough innate ability to have great careers (with maybe fewer Cy Youngs and or MVP awards) and might have been inducted in to the Hall of Fame even if they hadn’t used PED’s.

  7. pedagoguish - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:35 PM

    I’m really surprised they got even one vote. They were great players? So what? Shoeless Joe Jackson was a great player. Does anyone think he’d get votes for the Hall of Fame? These jerks cheated all of us by wrecking our faith in the game. To Hell with them.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:24 PM

      To answer your question: I think that Shoeless Joe would get plenty of votes for the Hall of Fame.

    • omahakidw - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:16 AM

      And I heard your Mother was wearing “combat boots” and they should have been baned. But is she in the hall as well for her inagination on :how you get traction when your walking in mud” Thats right, she used her head and decided to get an edge instead of wearing tennis shoes, she found that combat boots would be better. Lets penalize her too OK ? She cheated after all even though she did`nt need to wear the boots, she was just smarter than everyone else.

      • ghirdorah - Jan 10, 2013 at 9:59 AM

        To all you moralizing prigs tell me this….is Tommy John surgery “cheating”? Should any pitcher who received it be banned from HOF consideration?

        Also, Bond and Clemens have never been convicted of ANYTHING. They have admitted NOTHING. If innuendo can keep you out of the HOF, then the HOF is a sham, so what’s the point of defending it on moralistic grounds?


  8. anxovies - Jan 9, 2013 at 7:42 PM

    These guys got over a third of the votes and Pete Rose, who never cheated baseball or the fans, isn’t even eligible.

    • thereisaparty - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      And how do you know that Pete Rose didn’t cheat? Why is anyone trying to defend Pete Rose?

      • klingonj - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:59 PM

        even the guy that got him banned for life says there was nothing that suggested be threw games or did PEDs.

      • rkb555 - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:33 AM

        If that’s the case thereisaparty, we can say that to just about every baseball player.

    • nowhere1111 - Jan 10, 2013 at 6:55 AM

      Rose had his chance and blew it. Over and over again. If he would have not lied so many times and told the truth, it would have been better. But no, hecontinued to lie when they had him dead to right. That is why he should NEVER be admitted. He screwed himself!

  9. yournuts - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:03 PM

    No cheaters allowed. If someone who was smart, and would have passed the test, and cheated on a test, he is still a cheater and not worthy.

  10. championsleaguer - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:21 PM


  11. boodiggly - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    I’m happy with today’s outcome and truly hope that the ONLY way these juice monkeys see the inside of Cooperstown is by paying admission like the rest of us…

    But, as a fan of the game, it really sucks that it has come to this…

  12. simon94022 - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:30 PM

    @leukevent, you think that Bonds and Clemens “probably” had enough innate ability to make the Hall? Do you even watch baseball?

    Bonds is one of the 3 or 4 best position players in the history of the sport. IMHO Ruth and Mays were better, but that’s it.

    Clemens is a top 10 pitcher by any measure. Walter Johnson probably has to number one, but you can make a case for ranking Clemens anywhere from 2 to 9 all time.

    These are not marginal talents who used PEDs to achieve some freak performances. These were two of the most dominant athletes of all time. A Hall of Fame without them is a Hall of Mediocrity.

    • boodiggly - Jan 9, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      @simon – I agree that Clemens and Bonds had enough innate ability to get into Cooperstown. However, they cheated. And that is more than reason enough to turn them away.

  13. steelers88 - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:09 PM

    Hope not

  14. jetsfansince1968 - Jan 9, 2013 at 9:50 PM

    When will politicians and athletes learn, if you make a mistake, quickly apologize, sincerely express your remorse and the American people will forgive you.

    Richard Nixon, Mark McGuire and Pete Rose waited too long.

    Why did Clemons and Bonds advisors not give them this advise, IF, it was important to them to be elected?

  15. millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:55 AM

    seems to me that the Hall of Fame has lost its relevance. Its ridiculous for persons with stats like Bonds and Clemens to be left out of the Hall. If MLB did not see fit to strip them of their stats then to keep them out of the Hall creates a stupid situation. As i understand it character is the criteria for Heaven and even there God in His grace has allowed imperfect people to enter. What is the value of a Hall which does not have Bonds, Clemens and Rose? Men who hold some of the best records in baseball past or present.

    • alan3008 - Jan 10, 2013 at 3:22 AM

      They should reinstate Pete Rose and put him in the HOF BEFORE putting those two clowns in. Pete Rose didn’t cheat while he was playing like Bonds, Clements, and McGuire did. Rose bet on baseball while he was a manager of the Reds. Pete Rose deserves to be in there more than them. I am just glad these players missed their first year. Now it will be harder as others are up for induction that didn’t cheat by using PEDs.

      • nowhere1111 - Jan 10, 2013 at 7:03 AM

        Rose is not in the HOF because he insisted on lying when he was caught. Not just once out twice but over and over again. If he would have told the truth early, he would be in. His own arrogance did him in. Too bad. He was remarkable.

      • millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        i would appreciate it if you would supply me with the list of players who you know for sure did not cheat! Additionally what is the position where a player puts forward the argument that as a batter i was hitting against men like Clemens and petitte who you say was on steroids so voters please make an adjustments to my stats to reflect what i would have done had i not had to face juicers. The scenarios get more and more ridiculous. The situation is bad and cannot be fixed by the method chosen by the voters. They have added another animal to the circus.

    • immafubared - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:05 AM

      They were not proven guilty of anything. Baseball cannot take those numbers away. The writers think they were dam guilty and showed it. Lets be honest here. There is not way Bonds hits the homers he did or Clemens pitches like he did without the drugs so the numbers in the minds of the writers don’t mean anything.

      • millybo - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:29 PM

        so if the numbers don’t mean anything then what is the basis? you are only proving my point. Unless MLB can remove the numbers they ought not to be ignored. Otherwise they can vote on who has the best looking wife or any other arbitrary crap that enters the addled minds of the writers who love the opportunity to express their personal prejudices. The Hall is irrelevant unless based on established numbers approved my MLB.

  16. stercuilus65 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:28 AM

    Barry made his bed and so now it’s time for him and Craig to lay in it.

  17. jdvalk - Jan 10, 2013 at 3:01 AM

    The q is will anyone continue to care a HOF with membership controlled by some capricious and agenda-driven wordsmiths or more than dubious credibility.

    • ghirdorah - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      Best comment yet

  18. alan3008 - Jan 10, 2013 at 3:19 AM

    They should reinstate Pete Rose and put him in the HOF BEFORE putting those two clowns in. Pete Rose didn’t cheat while he was playing like Bonds, Clements, and McGuire did. Rose bet on baseball while he was a manager of the Reds. Pete Rose deserves to be in there more than them. I am just glad these players missed their first year. Now it will be harder as others are up for induction that didn’t cheat by using PEDs.

    • immafubared - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:02 AM

      I agree. Pete served his time and did not do anything wrong as a player. The other three screw em. Let them serve a lesson to the future young guys. Play the game, earn your name.

      • thereisaparty - Jan 10, 2013 at 11:08 AM

        Did not do anything wrong as a player? How delusional are you?

  19. immafubared - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:00 AM

    My two cents: I think both juiced up and knew they had to hide the fact to get into the Hall.
    Especially Bonds. Hey, when the guy who knows the absolute truth goes to jail twice for you because he knows if he lies on the stand its a felony, You kind of know what that truth would have been. I mean he wouldn’t go to jail if he knew he did not take roids now would he.

    Ditto with Clemens. That trial became he said he said. They did everything to make it look like the guy with the evidence was dirty. Still don’t understand what would be in it for the guy who game him the shots. Its not like he would write and sell a book, I gave him the shots.

    No I clearly think based on the vote that the writers got it right. I think they sent a clear message that if you cheat and the numbers you put up weren’t basically your own but due to enhancements, you don’t deserve to have your name next to those who did not cheat.

  20. klownboy - Jan 10, 2013 at 10:16 AM

    The voters got this one wrong. Bonds and Clemens were among the best of all time at their positions before the alleged steroid use. And keep in mind that neither of them failed a drug test.

  21. materialman80 - Jan 10, 2013 at 12:01 PM

    I hope not.

  22. japmen - Jan 10, 2013 at 1:02 PM

    Rose didnt get in because of gambling and now we want guys that endorse physical cheating? This would send a message and steroids did help them. Where were those averages before they cheated. It’s just stupid to think Steroids didnt help when the evidence is their own bodies and output. Every single guy in that run for the HR record used roids. Every single one got better after they roided up. Let’s not act like they suddenly.

    Seroids does help becase you muscles can respond to commands better. It’s just that simple. Name one athlete that got worst while roiding up. You cant because that just doesnt happen! There is a HUGE reason they roid up. To perfrom better. Some real ignorance on these forums

  23. mungman69 - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    If they are famous then put them in.

  24. tominma - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Roger Clemens was 41-41 in his last 4 years in Boston, overweight and according to the GM, at the end of his career. Hardly an ace. They dont sign him, he sings wtih Toronto the Yankees and wins FOUR MORE Cy Young awards PLUS winning 354 games. Without steroids/PEDs, he NEVER would achieved those levels so late in life because he wouldnt have been able to recover enough every four days.

    Same is true for Barry Bonds, who never would have gotten the home run record without bulking up tremedously every year of his career after the first 4!

    I think steroid/PED cheaters shouldnt be elected to the HOF while they live!

  25. simplicitymadecomplex - Jan 10, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Ex-pressie Jimmy “Hey Those ARE My PEANUTS” Carter once stated [during a “Playboy” interview no less {no more also}] that if one even thinks or contemplates “LUST” then one has COMMITTED the act.

    I really enjoy when baseball and politics cross paths. Oh wait a sec… yep life is politics and politics is life with one aspect always in the forefront – best narrative wins. And in life wins and losses count while playing the game is very much secondary. Ya know just another way to count the win or the loss.

    So sayth the dude…

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