Time to put Bonds and Clemens in the Hall of Fame, because my ballot is about numbers, not punishment

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in Cooperstown.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in Cooperstown.
Image: Getty Images

The Baseball Hall of Fame punishment should come to an end.

That’s basically what has been done to Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens the last eight years both have been on the ballot. Both of their Hall-worthy careers have been marred by MLB’s PED scandal.

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Bonds, arguably the greatest slugger we have ever seen and MLB’s home run king, and Clemens, arguably the greatest righty pitcher we have ever seen, and owner of a record-setting seven Cy Young awards, haven’t been voted in by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Not yet, at least.

That fact proves that this delay is a punishment.

Think about it. If there wasn’t any support for either guy, their percentage of votes would have been low from the jump like in the case of Sammy Sosa (just 13.9 percent last year). And it would indicate they had no shot of going to Cooperstown.

Better yet, their numbers wouldn’t have increased over the years like they have in the previous four cycles of voting.

Illustration for article titled Time to put Bonds and Clemens in the Hall of Fame, because my ballot is about numbers, not punishment
Graphic: Deadspin (Getty Images)

The writers — who will announce the 2021 Hall of Fame class next Tuesday — could have categorically rejected them and their numbers, but they can’t.

You can’t tell the story of baseball without them. Plus, all their numbers and awards count. They haven’t been stripped of anything.

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And the truth remains, Bonds and Clemens never tested positive for PEDs or were suspended by the game for being caught.

It shouldn’t matter whether we believe it to be the case or not. It’s not being naive. These are simply the facts of the case.

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If all the players in the Steroid Era were tested and just Bonds and Clemens came back dirty, there would be a real reason to exclude them from the Hall.

But the water is murky. With that being the case, the numbers should be taken at face value.

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For sure, I am a proud member of the BBWAA. I’m one of about 400 voters in the country and one of less than 20 African Americans with the privilege to vote on Hall worthiness of the greatest baseball players of all time.

It’s my most-prized possession in life. I take my vote very seriously.

Sadly, that can’t be said for all BBWAA voters. There’s not enough consistency. Somehow, some writers vote for a player one year and then not the next. How? That player’s numbers didn’t change from one year to the next.

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Either, you’re a Hall of Famer or you’re not. It’s so simple.

The punishment angle doesn’t make any sense.

First, there are other players either linked to PEDs or to have been rumored to have used the stuff who were voted in by the same writers keeping Bonds and Clemens out. Enter Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell.

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Managers who managed the “so-called” cheaters have gotten into the Hall off the wins and numbers by these “tainted” players, including Tony La Russa and Joe Torre.

Teams that had players busted for the juice weren’t asked to turn in their championships. Why do the Yankees, Red Sox, A’s and Marlins get off Scot-free?

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Even Bud Selig, the man who presided over the steroid era, and road its offensive explosion and the fan interest and dollars that followed, is in the Hall.

Worse, there is the Mitchell Report still out there sealed with names of 89 players who were implicated. That’s where Clemens’ name was discovered.

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Hence, there are guys who could have already gotten into the Hall of Fame or will eventually get in, on that list.

Lastly, the face of MLB on TV is Alex Rodriguez, who was involved in the scandal as well. He is the frontman on both Fox Sports and ESPN for the sport’s national coverage. Normally, working for both networks was unheard of, but A-Rod is that good on TV. Folks have moved on and not held it against him.

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So have I.

I’ve voted for Bonds and Clemens all nine years they have been on the ballot. If they don’t get in this time, they will have one last year of eligibility left.

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For me, I’m a magic number guy. If you have 3,000 hits or 500 homers or 300 wins in your career, you automatically get my vote. Those are Hall of Fame benchmarks in my view. Without those, it’s based on merit.

Here is my ballot for this coming Hall of Fame Class:

  1. Bonds - All-time HR king. Period.
  2. Clemens - Seven Cy Young Awards, most ever.
  3. Sammy Sosa - Over 600 homers. Has a magic number.
  4. Gary Sheffield - Over 500 homers. Has a magic number.