This past Wednesday, Jan. 23, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum announced its 2019 class. The class included Mariano Rivera, Edgar Martinez, Roy Halladay, and Mike Mussina. All well deserved players to get elected into the Hall. But what blows my mind is that Barry Bonds, the all-time home run king, and Roger Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, did not get elected for the sixth straight year.
Let’s look at the stats for Bonds and Clemens:
Bonds – 762 HR (MLB Record), 1996 RBI, 2558 BB (MLB record), 2,935 hits, 688 IBB (MLB Record), 514 SB, .298 BA, .444 OBP, .607 SLG, 162.8 WAR, seven-time MVP (the most for any individual), eight gold gloves, 12 silver sluggers and 14 All-Star appearances. The only member of the 400 HR – 400 SB club and only member of the 500 – 500 club.
Clemens – 354-184, 3.12 ERA, 4,672 SO, 4916.2 IP, 118 CG, 26 SHO, 139.6 WAR, one MVP, seven Cy Young’s, two-time Triple Crowns, two World Series champions
According to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, “The Hall of Fame’s mission is to preserve the sport’s history, honor excellence within the game and make a connection between the generations of people who enjoy baseball.” I would like to know how the Hall of Fame can’t preserve baseball history since Bonds has all these MLB records and Clemens is top ten in wins and is third in strikeouts. These two will always have a connection between generations for baseball forever, especially with Bonds since who is going to forget when he broke Hank Aaron’s home run record? Then how can the Hall of Fame not honor the excellence of these two players as what they have done for the game? You can’t look at those stats and say, “Those aren’t excellent stats for the game of baseball.” You just can’t!
The big issue for these two is, do they honor the game since they have a history of using Performance-Enhancing Drugs. I still say yes, because cheating in baseball has always been an issue and we even see some cheaters in the Hall of Fame. Pitcher Gaylord Perry, a member of the 1991 Hall of Fame class, was iconic for his illegal pitch called the spitball. Whitey Ford, a member of the 1974 Hall of Fame class, said “I didn’t begin cheating until late in my career when I needed something to help me survive… I didn’t cheat in 1963 when I won 24 games. Well, maybe a little.” Hank Greenberg is a member of the 1956 Hall of Fame class and he said, “I was the greatest hitter in the world when I knew what kind of pitch was coming up.” Now, stealing signs isn’t against MLB rules, but it is one of those unwritten rules that you simply just don’t do. Both these quotes can be found on Bleacher Report.
It’s a little fuzzy with PED use in baseball to see if a player deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, but if we are being honest in this situation, did PEDs affect Bonds on how he saw the ball come in from the pitcher? No. Did PEDs help Clemens locate where he wants to throw the ball? No. PEDs were mostly helping the athlete become stronger. During these times, baseball was very boring to the audience, but the addition of PEDs helped create some fun like the home run race between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire in 1998 with McGwire winning with 71 but only to be broken by Bonds with 73 in 2001.
Even though Bonds and Clemens cheated the game of baseball, there’s been other members in the Hall of Fame who have cheated as well. I understand not getting Bonds and Clemens on the first ballot, but not getting them in on the sixth ballot is nonsense as Clemens finished with 59.5 percent and Bonds finished with 59.1 percent. Players need 75 percent of the votes to be in the Hall of Fame. Bonds and Clemens have at least four years left on the ballot and if somehow they don’t make it in, this will be the greatest disrespectful act Major League Baseball has done, right next to Pete Rose.
*HR = Home Run, RBI = Runs Batted In, BB = Base on Balls, IBB = Intentional Base on Balls, SB = Stolen Base, BA = Batting Average, OBP = On-Base Percentage, SLG = Slugging, WAR = Wins Above Replacement, MVP = Most Valuable Player, ERA = Earned Run Average, SO = Strike Outs, IP = Innings Pitched, CG = Complete Game, SHO = Shutout