The results of the BBWAA vote for the 2022 Baseball Hall of Fame class will be revealed Tuesday night on the MLB Network. Will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens finally get in? It’s significant because this is their 10th and final year on the ballot, and because they are two of the greatest baseball players of all-time. Oh, and they’ve faced accusations of using performance- enhancing drugs during parts of their respective careers.
BBWAA voter Rob Parker told The Shadow League he believes the writers will end their punishment of Bonds and Clemens.
“My gut tells me that the writers will end their punishment to two of the all time greats and put them in the Hall on their last tries on the ballot,” Parker said. “There’s a solid history of the writers doing this when a player is at the end of the line. I just think it will hold true for Bonds and Clemens.”
No group of individuals is more antiquated, sanctimonious and self-righteous than the BBWAA, which believes itself to be the keepers and protectors of a sport they still see as America’s pastime. Despite the reality that it’s fallen to third on the major sports list.
The idea that they believe it is their responsibility to “punish” players is ridiculous, especially given that they all knew what was going down at the time but chose to wax poetically about the game and its players because baseball was back!
As to the merits for Bonds’ induction into the Hall of Fame, let’s use the year 1999 as the line of demarcation. That’s when, according to sworn testimony, Bonds unknowingly took PEDs for the first time.
Before 1999, Bonds was a career .290 hitter with 411 home runs, 1,917 hits, 1,216 RBI, 1,357 walks (289 intentional) and a .966 OPS (164 OPS+). There are only four other players with at least 400 home runs and 1,900 hits combined with a .290 career average and 160 career OPS+. All are enshrined in Cooperstown — Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams.
He was also an eight-time all-star, eight-time gold glove winner, seven-time silver slugger award winner, and three-time MVP (finished top five in voting seven of his first 13 seasons) all before 1999.
Bonds had accrued 99.6 career wins above replacement by 1998, and he would rank 22nd all-time. There are 132 hitters with a lower career WAR mark that are Hall of Famers.
What are we actually talking about here?
Before PED use, Bonds was a Hall of Famer and one of the 50 greatest players ever, conservatively. That’s pretty incredible considering the number of great players that have played this sport since 1876.
But that’s not why he’s being punished. Bonds is being punished because of his audacity, post 1998, to become the greatest baseball player of all time.
Never popular among baseball writers, Bonds, like many great players, was distrustful and found media to be a nuisance. Fair or not, that was his position; and baseball writers took his attitudes toward them personally.
Then, of course, there is the racial component. Both BBWAA and baseball media as a whole are largely comprised of white men. An acerbic, audacious Black man isn’t going to connect well with that crowd.
As such, Bonds has not been conferred the game’s highest honor, which he’s earned. Never mind that the Hall of Fame is filled with cheaters, racists, gamblers, alcoholics, drug abusers, serial domestic abusers and other morally reprehensible figures.
For the BBWAA, Bonds and Clemens like him sullied the purity of the game, and he must be held accountable.
No. Bonds just did what we now know the majority of players in that era did. Only when he did it, he became the greatest player of all-time. That man with that attitude, in that skin, can’t be the greatest of all-time in the collective eyes of BBWAA.
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