The Question of Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame Candidacy Has Nothing to do With Him

The Question of Barry Bonds’ Hall of Fame Candidacy Has Nothing to do With Him

We know he used steroids. We know he was a first-ballot lock before that. How much were his stats affected by PEDs–or how much did the needle moved the needle, let’s say! Please don’t hit me up for debate as the basic facts are undisputed, the question of Bonds (and Clemens, and Manny, and the rest of the pharmaceutical enthusiasts) says more about the ethics of the voter than the players. 

If you think that shortcuts are respectable and that your desires should take precedence over fair play or the rule of law, then you’ll vote yes for those players. If not, then you won’t.

By the numbers themselves, many of these players clearly deserve induction. Had Clemens retired when he left Boston, he’d be in by now. Had Bonds died of jealousy after 1998, he might’ve been the first unanimous Hall pick. I believe Manny would’ve been Hall-worthy if clean. A-Rod, too. Sheffield. Palmeiro, maybe.

But the sanctity of the game, such as it is, is more important to me. I believe actions should have consequences, and that it’s no more acceptable to load up on PEDs than, say, to work with foreign governments to rig a presidential election. It doesn’t matter what your skills are. If you do something you know to be wrong and those players knew it was wrong, or they’d have freely admitted juicing as they were doing it. There is a need for consequences, or else everything becomes acceptable.

The Hall of Fame is an honor, and those within it need to be honorable. Steroid users essentially turned clean players into AAA guys, depriving them of everything from playing time to performance bonuses; to All-Star votes and playoff opportunities; to the Hall of Fame itself (looking at you, Fred McGriff).

Using PEDs is the equivalent of sending a team of collegians to play in the Little League World Series. It’s cheating, and I don’t believe this honor should be given to men who proved they have none.