Barry Bonds, the greatest player of his generation and one of the greatest players to ever play baseball was denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame for the sixth straight season.
The San Francisco Giants legend received 56.4% of the vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America. He received 53.8% last year, so a slight improvement from last year.
Bonds, Major League Baseball’s all-time leader in home runs, walks and intentional walks, might be the most feared hitter to ever live.
Both are in their sixth year of eligibility and both are viewed essentially the same. They are amazing but they cheated. Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PED’s, have followed both legendary players into their respective Hall voters minds.
Put simply, voters have either chose to vote for them despite the PED allegations or they have removed them from consideration because of it.
Controversy has existed ever since the Hall was established in 1936. Shoeless Joe Jackson, a legendary player for the Chicago White Sox, was accused of throwing the 1918 World Series along with seven teammates, and was banned for life from the game. He still remains on the outside looking in 100 years later.
Pete Rose, the all-time hit king, is also not in the hall of fame because of gambling on the game.
With the steroid issue prominent during the time Bonds and Clemens played, and several players on the current ballot assumed to have taken steroids, many writers are choosing not to vote for any of them.
Along with Bonds and Clemens, Manny Ramirez, Sammy Sosa, and Gary Sheffield are all suffering from voters saying no for anyone connected to PED’s. Former players like Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero are no longer on the ballot for the same reason.
This has led many voters to struggle with their ballots for the last several years. Instead of simply choosing the 10 best on their ballot, or picking the few standouts they think separated themselves from the rest, voters are trying to make moral and ethical choices.
Ultimately, voters are causing themselves unnecessary stress. Bonds and Clemens are two of the greatest players to ever play the game. The hall of fame is a museum and should include Jackson, Rose, Bonds, Clemens and any other player who’s play on the field was elite.
If a voter chooses to say no to these players, that is their right as a voter. However, it is impossible to know if the players getting in this year or in previous years were clean.
Players in previous generations took amphetamines, more commonly referred to as “greenies” and those were taken with the sole purpose on enhancing their performance.
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Cheating is common, unfortunately, in any sport that awards a winner. Athletes are always looking for any edge they can find, and often times will take things that they can get away with.
Testing for PED’s did not begin until 2003 in Major League Baseball. Players who are being shunned were at the end of their careers by the time these tests were implemented. Palmeiro failed a drug test in 2005 at the age of 40. It is possible that Palmeiro used PED’s before that. Former teammate Jose Canseco became infamous for accusing several players, including Palmeiro and Hall of Famer Rodriguez. However, it is also possible that he didn’t and that his only mistake was trying to get an edge as a 40 year old. While it’s possible to never condone someone for cheating, it is at least understandable that an elite athlete makes the choice to cross the line to stay elite. Ramirez failed two drug tests, also at the end of his career.
Recently, the Baseball Hall of Fame added managers Tony LaRussa, Bobby Cox and Joe Torre and also enshrined commissioner Bud Selig. All four new about players using steroids and chose to look the other way. Players were using in their locker rooms and in their game and they chose to say nothing for years.
Whether you think Bonds and Clemens and others deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, there are players, managers and a commissioner that were as guilty as anyone for the steroid era.
As a museum, baseball cannot pretend that their game was clean or that all their enshrined were either. The problem with standing on a moral high ground is some of the people voters have already said yes to are guilty of the exact thing they are trying to stop.
Barry Bonds was better at baseball than anyone who has been enshrined since 2013. Chipper Jones and Jim Thome were selected this year in their first year of eligibility. Combined they had a career Wins Above Replacement of 157.9. Barry Bonds career WAR was 162.4.