I’m perhaps not the best person to be making this argument. Even though I’m not totally unbiased, I will do my best to make an unbiased case.
I am perhaps not qualified to make it for a couple of reasons: 1. I did not cover Major League Baseball during the time. 2. As some of you may know, I am a fan of the San Francisco Giants.
But this is my opinion: Barry Bonds should be in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Earlier this week, this year’s class was announced. New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera was the first to be voted in unanimously. Also getting elected were pitchers Roy Halladay and Mike Mussina and designated hitter Edgar Martinez.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America again opted to not vote in Bonds. Requiring 75 percent of votes to be elected, Bonds received 59.1 percent this year.
This was his seventh year of eligibility to gain HOF status. Bonds now has just three years of eligibility remaining — just three more years for the BBWAA to do the right thing.
With his professional accomplishments, even with the cloud of alleged steroid use hanging over his head, Bonds should have been a first-ballot selection.
An argument can be made for Roger Clemens, who the writers also denied in his seventh year of eligibility. But I’ll be focusing on Bonds.
For those of you who don’t agree, I present the following:
Here’s a breakdown of some of Bonds’ career highlights
- Seven-time National League MVP
- 14-time MLB All-Star
- Eight-time Gold Glove Award winner
- 12-time Silver Slugger Award winner
- Two-time National League batting champion
- Two-time National League home run leader
- One-time National League RBI leader
- MLB record 762 career home runs
- MLB record 73 home runs in a season
- MLB record 2,558 career walks
- MLB record 688 career intentional walks
That is a resume of someone who should be a first-ballot HOFer. Also consider that he set all those batting records despite also being walked so much.
Bonds’ career intentional walks record more than doubles the number of who is second on that list (Albert Pujols, 310). In 1998, he was once walked intentionally with the bases loaded.
He was the most feared hitter ever, and the numbers prove that.
Though it was never proven that he used, Bonds’ career was marred from being a predominant figure in baseball’s steroids scandal.
Despite the suspicion, he never tested positive and he was never punished by the league.
In front of a jury, he denied knowingly using steroids. Bonds said his trainer told him it was flaxseed oil and arthritis cream.
But for argument’s sake, let’s say he did.
Some of you may believe that Bonds would not have those career-defining number without using steroids. But there have accounts that many, if not most, Major League players used during the time.
So even if Bonds did use steroids, would it have been a competitive advantage if many others in the league did the same thing?
Another thing. In 2017, Jeff Bagwell and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez were elected to the Hall of Fame.
But Rodriguez was accused of steroid use by former teammate Jose Canseco in his book. Bagwell, too, was suspected of using.
I’m sure there are others in the hall that at one time or another was tainted by the steroids scandal. Yet they are in the hall despite the suspicion. Why are they excused but Bonds isn’t?
Perhaps even more so that the alleged steroid use, there’s one thing that is the major hurdle between Bonds and the hall.
Relationship with media
It’s been widely reported that Bonds had a very volatile relationship with the media during his career, even during his years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, long before the steroids allegations.
Search on YouTube, and you can see videos of Bonds telling people recording video of him during practices to “get that out of my face” or other things along that line.
Some media members have revealed their own personal encounters with Bonds, saying he’s even gone out of his way to intimidate and embarrass reporters.
Bonds in retirement has said he’s regretted acting that way during his career. In a 2016 interview, Bonds said of his nasty relationship with media:
“Me. It’s on me. I’m to blame for the way I was (portrayed), because I was a dumbass. I was straight stupid, and I’ll be the first to admit it. I mean, I was just flat-out dumb. What can I say? I’m not going to try to justify the way I acted toward people. I was stupid. It wasn’t an image that I invented on purpose. It actually escalated into that, and then I maintained it. You know what I mean? It was never something that I really ever wanted. No one wants to be treated like that, because I was considered to be a terrible person. You’d have to be insane to want to be treated like that. That makes no sense.”
So, Bonds has shown remorse.
But as for the people he’s scorned all those years, it seems they are not so easy to forgive and forget.
Some have turned the tide, though. While he’s yet to receive enough votes to get in the hall, each year Bonds has received more and more.
In his first year of eligibility in 2013, Bonds received just 36.2 percent of votes. The following year, he got 34.7 percent. Then in the last couple of years, his voting percentage was in the mid to high 50s.
So, again, Bonds has just three more years of eligibility left. If the media — the writers that are blessed enough to have the privilege of voting for who gets in the hall of fame — if they’re to be unbiased about who is worthy of getting in, they should be able to vote for them even if they personally don’t like him.
Is a hall of fame truly that if one of the greatest players who has ever held a bat not in it? No, it wouldn’t be.
He doesn’t have to be on the baseball Mount Rushmore. Put an asterisk next to his name. Put him and all the others in a designated area called “Steroid Era.” Do what you must.
Bonds belongs in there.
Nick Celario, sports writer, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.