Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Why I won't vote for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds for the Baseball Hall of Fame

It's not exactly a secret how much I love baseball. One of the biggest reasons is the tradition of the game. It's stronger and etched much deeper  in our collective soul than other sports. Nothing is more traditional about the game than the Hall of Fame. I consider it a privilege that I have a vote for the Hall of Fame. I particularly liked it when I first started voting in 1996 - when it was all about performance and nothing about performance enhancing drugs.
Who should we vote in now that the truly greatest stars of a generation have been implicated for cheating. The two best position players I have ever seen are Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. The best pitcher I've ever seen is Roger Clemens.
I read "Game of Shadows" and followed the Bonds situation closely for a long time. You'd be naive not to be believe his career numbers - not to mention his head literally and figuratively - were not greatly inflated by performance enhancing drugs
Clemens wanted to prove himself innocent of the charges made by his long time trainer that he injected him with performance enhancing drugs. So there was a Federal court case, which like the Bonds' case (he was convicted of one count) was a waste of taxpayer money. Clemens was acquitted of lying to Congress.But I still don't feel Clemens is any different than Bonds on this front. I don't believe either has come clean about it.
I strongly believe Clemens' former trainer, as shady a character as he may be, was telling the truth. I think most of the nation does, too. Pitchers just don't from throwing 90 mph to 98 mph in their late 30s.
A-Rod tested positive before it involved suspension and made it sound like a one-time mistake or something. I don't believe that, either.
Bonds and Clemens are on the Hall of Fame ballot this coming year. I think I'd be remiss in upholding the tradition of the game if I voted for them. I believe that when I was a baseball writer, covering the game on a daily basis for 13 years right in the middle of the steroids era, I was remiss in not pointing out the great fallacy of the game at the time, and not working harder as a reporter to prove it.
It wasn't like people were parading around the clubhouse with needles in the hands, but there was this "wink-wink" mentally from players and front office personal when a player's performance either spiked or dropped suddenly. It was about whether a player started or stopped using PEDs.
It took leaked grand jury testimony and two highly skilled investigative reporters in San Francisco nearly going to jail to crack the performance enhancing drug issue in baseball. They lived up to the tradition of my profession. Sports writers covering baseball at time - myself included - did not.
 I feel like I let down the tradition of the game down back then.
And I'm not going to do that again by voting these players into the Hall of Fame, at least initially. I'll try to keep an open mind. Issues are fluid. It's foolish, I feel, to draw a line in the sand and never move off a stance, if evidence changes. I'd be interested to hear what baseball fans think about this. Ultimately, it's your game. There is a comment box below.


Blogger Fred Brill said...

Book - my honest heart-felt opinion is that nobody gains by omitting the greats (even freakin' Barry Bonds) from the roster of the Hall Of Fame. All it does is make real fans keep a second mental list of names like Rose and Shoeless Joe.

Clemmens would have been there without PEDs - so would Bonds - so would A-Rod.

Vote them in - and the HOF should sit them all at the Roids table - as well as Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson at the cheaters table.

The greatest are in the HOF - keeping them out is akin to a Mom punishing her children by not letting them out of their rooms - that's as childish the crime against baseball that they committed.

You can't punish history - it's already written.

Vote them in.

1:11 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


These guys were the best of their era and they should be in the HOF,period. While these guys may have inflated statistics as result of using PED's, where do you draw the line in each era of the game as to the degree of inflated numbers. How many guys during the previous decades posted numbers that were inflated to a degree as result of using methamphetamines? By the very standard of today's game, these guys would be considered "cheaters". The reported rampant use of these substances was wide spread during the previous decades of the game. Also, how many guys are in the HOF from the 1st half of the century that didn't play against all of the very best baseball players in the world? Do you think all of the guys in HOF would be there if blacks had been allowed to in the major leagues? How about if the latin american players were in the majors, would all of the guys from that era be in the HOF? My point is this, while the steroids era is a black eye for the game, its all relative. These guys were the best players during this era, period. Look back at McGwire's rookie year, 49 HR's..pencil thin...still the rookie record. The guy was always a great hitter. What about pro football? During the 70's and 80's, steroids were a major part of the game before testing. I'm sure there are many guys from this era that are in the HOF. To share another perspective, It seems to me that those from the "older" generation are less tolerant of the use of PED's in the game. I'm 30 and that this era of baseball is what I know and my friends know and it doesn't seem to bother us as much. In the old days, kids grew up playing games on the sandlot...now, kids are playing 80 games a year, travelling all over while playing on competitive travel teams. The competition level is different and I think thats played a role in this new genertion of the game. I understand that comments such as mine seem to be really inflamitory for many people, but this is a real perspective that many do agree with..There is a real generational gap on this issue IMO.

lil rob

1:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stick to your guns Book . People turn their heads and look the other way for too many things now adays . Politicians , sports stars etc. So stick to your guns . They dont belong !!

2:08 PM 
Blogger eirip said...

I agree with you Pat. While the two people who commented before me make valid arguments,Clemens and Bonds knew they cheated when they were taking steroids so they should suffer the consequences. Look at all of the records they broke, the most sacred record, the HR record is now held by a Cheater.Keep them out.

2:13 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for you, Pat. I agree.

Look at the past article from Sports Illustrated. It featured a fringe pitcher who had to take enhancement drugs just to survive in the Majors.

Article points out that in the late '90s, 80% of MLB players were taking some form of enhancement drugs, mostly amphetamines.

Agree, you guys should have been sounding the alarms if you had info. It ruined the whole stat records for history.

5:49 PM 
Anonymous shawnmaestro said...

This is the first time i have seen a reporter express remorse for looking the other way during the offensive explosion. its commendable imo

i always fall back on the rationale that when Brady Anderson hit 51 dingers, the sports media world should've known the juice was loose.

i feel the juice helped most players stay on the field. look at sheffield. he quit the clear before he got to DET and was often injured and never helped us.

also, you can't lump Rose w/ the steroid users. Rose was a manager and had the ability to manipulate games to feed his gambling addiction. He should never get a vote- no matter how sorry he is.

10:21 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, if you are a model citizen and drive drunk and hurt/kill someone, you can't get out of going to prison for 1-7 yrs because you were the model citizen before. These guys cheated and more importantly, cheated the MLB system by hurting the historical records. No hall. Heck, Pete Roses's problems were nothing compared to what they did. I don't care what they would have done withoug doing it, bye.

12:00 PM 

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