Hall vote about greatness, not perfection

BY foxsports • January 9, 2013

It is easy to dislike
Barry Bonds for his churlish behavior. It is impossible to keep him out
of the Hall of Fame.

I voted for 10 players — the
maximum allowed — on my 2013 Hall of Fame ballot, and Bonds was one of
them. He was not the only one whose name has been linked to
performance-enhancing substances. I also voted for Jeff Bagwell, Craig
Biggio, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza, Tim Raines, Sammy
Sosa, Alan Trammell and Larry Walker.

I have voted
five times since accruing the BBWAA’s required 10 years of covering
major league baseball, and I believe I have been consistent throughout.
Among the current class, I have voted for Bagwell, Raines and Walker
every year since they have been eligible. Their numbers are that good,
especially considering the power/speed combination.

have never voted for Mark McGwire nor Lee Smith for the same reason. To
me, the numbers are not quite there. Lately, I have come to believe
that Trammell deserves enshrinement for his body of work. He was a
consummate two-way shortstop, one of the best of his generation, and he
should not be penalized just because defense is harder to quantify than

Without question, this was the most
difficult vote because it was the first involving a number of stars who
played in the steroid era. This time, the voters were asked to sift
through a second line of criteria.

Who cheated? When?
How often?

And, left unasked, how many of their
peers also indulged?

I am not one for omissions of
conscience or protest abstentions. We voters had five years to think
about this group, and that was enough time for me. Bagwell, Biggio,
Bonds, Clemens — on down the list — were the best players of their
generation, in my view.

They did not perform in a
vacuum. None has been found guilty of abuse, as damning as "Game of
Shadows" was to Bonds.

Bonds is one of the three
best left fielders in baseball history, along with Ted Williams and
Rickey Henderson. He deserves his place. Some cheats already have
plaques in Cooperstown. Players who doctored the ball are in. Players
who used amphetamines are in.

The Hall is not a
gentleman’s club, at least in the old sense of the term, and I don’t
need it to be. There is no class valedictorian. It is for the game’s
best players, and if they come with warts, so be it. It is not a beauty
contest, either.

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