Photo Credit: ESPN.com
This past Tuesday, Major League Baseball Hall of Fame inducted their newest member to Cooperstown. David Ortiz is the only new member voted in this year. While this is a great accomplishment for a great hitter, the glaring omission of two worthy Hall of famers steals the headlines. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in their last year of eligibility failed to make the cut for the Hall of fame. Their omission from Cooperstown is one of the final death nail in the coffin in the legitimacy of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. It's another failure and black eye for an era of baseball that won't go away despite what MLB does to sweep it under the rug.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are Hall of Famers in any era of baseball. Their numbers stack up as one of the greats at each position. Barry Bonds as a hitter and fielder can be argued as one of the all-time greats. Barry Bonds is the only player to have more than 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases in his career. He was a 7-time MVP, 8 Gold Glove Awards, 12 Silver Slugger Awards, 2,935 career hits, career leader in home runs, and single season home run champ. Roger Clemens can be lumped into the category of one of the greatest pictures in the modern era. Clemens' resume is as impressive as any pitcher as he finished his career with 354 wins, a 3.12 era, 4672 strikeouts, 1 AL MVP and 7 Cy Young Awards.
Photo Credit: Texas Monthly
However, their connection with PEDs taints their accomplishments in a lot of people's eyes. While they never officially failed a test or were suspended for performance enhancing drug use, they have a connection that is undeniable. Bonds being named in the BALCO investigation is the major black eye on his otherwise legendary career. Not only has bonds in a key figure in the scandal, his trainer Greg Anderson was indicted by a grand jury. Clemons on the other hand has been outed by Jose Canseco as someone with expert knowledge of steroids. Clemens and fellow pitcher Andy Pettitte, were named as users of performance enhancing drugs by Jason Grimsley and then affidavit signed by the IRS.
Despite the allegations, I argue both men deserve their plaque in the Hall of fame. The Hall of Fame prides itself on "preserving the history of the game." How can you preserve history if you omit part of the history from the story? MLB is the biggest hypocrite when it comes to their handling of PEDs. How can you let David Ortiz into the Hall of Fame, someone who was named by New York Times as one of 100 players that tested positive in 2003, into the Hall of Fame and not Bonds or Clemens? If you have let one in you have to let them all in.
I have been a purist for most of my life, inside it with the likes of Hank Aaron when he says to keep them all out. Aaron believed that if you cheated the game, you don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. However baseball has such a mired history and is built on cheating. Stealing signs, doctoring baseballs and stealing bases is a part of the game. The game was built on these principles and looked the other way. Major League baseball in the '70s and '80s had a major amphetamine problem that they just now admitted to. Were these players omitted from the Hall of fame?
Photo Credit: NY Times
When baseball went on strike in 1994, many fans abandoned the game of baseball. It wasn't until the Home Run chase of 1998 when fans started to come back to baseball. The home runs of Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa were stuff of legend, and the coverage was 24/7. And when they came back, the money came back as well. Everyone got rich off of the home run in PED use. The commissioner, owners, coaches, players, news writers, Sports talk radio all had their hands out in pockets lined because of steroid use. Magazines and newspapers were sold, and sports radio was listened to in record numbers. You probably don't have the podcast boom in conversational sports shows/networks you have now without the boom in the late 90s. They all knew what was going on but reported nothing, said nothing and did nothing.
The commissioner Bud Selig and league officials self-policed themselves and instituted a PED Testing policy only after the US Congress got involved. But for the writers to punish the players when they themselves got rich off them is the biggest hypocrisy of this whole process. Meanwhile, Bud Selig gets a plaque in the Hall of Fame as he's celebrated in history as overseeing the growth of the league. But Selig oversaw the most tainted and dirt era in baseball right? This is the hypocrisy that MLB wants you to forget their part in this tragedy or sweep under the rug. They washed their dirty hands in the same sink as everyone else, but they get off with no blame.
I want them all to get into the Hall of Fame because they deserve it and could serve as a cautionary tale for the next generation of players. Alex Rodriguez has helped his cause by being that type of tale and warning the youth against PED use. Bonds and Clemens deserve to be in on merit and shame on MLB for keeping them out. Not everyone that is in Cooperstown now is 100% perfect, if we want to be technical. There’s a lot of people that can be kicked out if a character or history investigation was conducted at the end of the day (see Ty Cobb). Babe Ruth is the gold standard and his numbers are praised, but since he played in a segregated league with no black players, are his numbers questioned? No they aren’t, so let’s not get technical here. MLB is tainted as is, they just want to avoid the PR nightmare that shines on them, they rather use Bonds and Clemens as scapegoats and keep the shame on them. Well shame on MLB, they have failed!