Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are going to make the Hall of Fame — it's about time

BY Dieter Kurtenbach • December 22, 2016

There have been close to 20,000 Major League Baseball players, but only 217 of them are in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Selecting members of the Hall is an exercise in determining the top one percent of the game’s players, and if you’re deemed part of that one percent, you are immortalized with a plaque in Cooperstown, New York.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are certainly part of that one percent.

They were two of the greatest players to ever grace a baseball diamond. They were dynamos that dazzled and amazed and built two of the greatest careers in baseball history.

So give them their damn plaques, already.

 

It’s absurd that it’s taken this long for two of baseball’s all-time greats to even be in striking distance of making the Hall of Fame; no one — not even those who are not including them on their Hall of Fame ballot — believes that they’re not part of baseball's one percent.

The issue isn’t about their play, or their impact on the game, or even their demeanors, which aren't exactly peachy — it’s about immortalizing the poster boys of the Steroid Era.

Get over it.

 

The Baseball Hall of Fame is littered with bettors and cheats and bigots and performance-enhancing drug users — Bonds, Clemens, and anyone else from the Steroid Era should fit right in.

It appears that some voters are doing just that this year — Bonds and Clemens have both seen a surge in early Hall of Fame voting exit polling.

Now, if we’ve learned anything in 2016, it’s to not implicitly trust polling, but if voters aren’t lying to Ryan Thibodaux, both Bonds and Clemens — who were on 44 and 45 percent of ballots last year, respectively — are close to the 75 percent necessary for inclusion.

 

There are hundreds of ballots that still need to be counted — Bonds and Clemens probably won't get into the Hall of Fame this year, or perhaps even next year, but it’s clear there has been a shift in perception around — again, this cannot be emphasized enough — two of the greatest baseball players who ever lived.

In the voters’ eyes — at least those Thibodaux has been able to track down — Bonds and Clemens are a pair. No voter has chosen one and not the other. Together, they’re been added to eight of the 68 public ballots — a significant change that, should it extrapolate, can only be attributed to a shift in perception of baseball’s Steroid Era.

Why now?

 

Perhaps the inclusion of Bud Selig into the Hall by the artists formerly known as the Veterans Committee was a watershed moment. The former commissioner oversaw the whole Steroid Era and is far more culpable for the transgressions of it than any individual player.

Or perhaps we’ve reached the point where the roots of the Steroid Era have worked their way though the cracks in the wall — there are managers who won titles with steroid users on their team and more than one suspected steroid user is already in the Hall.

Either way, it shouldn’t have taken five years (or more) for Bonds and Clemens to get their due. Making them wait was petty and arrogant.

 

Those who aren’t voting for Bonds or Clemens are most likely citing the "integrity, sportsmanship, character” language of the ballot.

Again, Bonds and Clemens are hardly the first "bad apples" who were looking for enshrinement.

Yes, the duo might have cheated, but they were hardly the only ones who did so in that (or any) era.

And how is their cheating any different than Hall of Famer Gaylord Perry throwing spitballs, or players using amphetamines — aka “greenies” and “beans” — in the '60s, '70s, and '80s?

Yes, there are already performance-enhancing drug users in the Hall of Fame. Ever heard of Willie Mays? How about Mickey Mantle? Mike Schmidt? Hank Aaron?

They were all amphetamine users, though some, Mays being chief among them, are now doing their best to deny that. He’s clearly noticed how poorly Bonds and Clemens have been treated.



None of the current voters are old enough to have held a ballot in 1936 (though some are up there), but those voters had no problem electing Ty Cobb, a racist sycophant who was once admitted to a murder, to the Hall. And Cobb received 98 percent of the vote, more than legendary philanderer and drunk Babe Ruth (who just so happened to be the greatest player in the sport’s history).

Cobb was a reprehensible human — clearly lacking integrity sportsmanship, and character — but was a great ball player, so he had to make the Hall.

 

It doesn’t matter if you think they were Hall of Famers before their perceived PED use, and it doesn’t matter if you put a quotient to dilute their PED-era stats — no matter how you cut, copy, and paste, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are Hall of Famers, and that’s been true since the first time they were on the ballot.

They might even class the joint up a bit.

It shouldn’t have taken this long, but what another year if the correct outcome is reached?

(And while we're pushing boundaries, put in Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson, too.)




Dieter Kurtenbach is a senior writer for Fox Sports. He can be reached @dkurtenbach and Dieter.Kurtenbach@fox.com



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