Posted December 31, 2012

JAWS and the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds, Hall of Fame, JAWS, Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants
Barry Bonds was a gifted -- and controversial -- star long before he was connected to steroids. (Ronald C. Modra/SI)

Barry Bonds was a gifted — and controversial — star long before he was connected to steroids. (Ronald C. Modra/SI)

The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2013 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here.

If Roger Clemens has a reasonable claim as the greatest pitcher of all time, then the same goes for Barry Bonds as a position player. Babe Ruth played in a time before integration, Ted Williams bridged the pre- and post-integration eras, and while both were dominant at the plate, neither was anything to write home about on the basepaths or in the field. Bonds’ godfather, Willie Mays, was a big plus in both of those areas, but didn’t dominate opposing pitchers to the same extent. Bonds used his blend of speed, power and surgical precision with regards to the strike zone to outdo them all, setting the single-season home run record with 73 in 2001 and the all-time home run record with 762 through 2007, reaching base more often than any player this side of Pete Rose and winning seven MVP awards along the way.

Despite his claim to greatness, Bonds may have inspired more fear and loathing than any ballplayer in history, or at least modern history. Fear because opposing pitchers and managers simply refused to engage him at his peak, intentionally walking him a record 688 times, once with the bases loaded, even, and walking him a total of 2,558 times, also a record. Loathing because even as a young player, he rubbed teammates and media the wrong way, and approached the game with a chip on his shoulder because of the way his father, three-time All-Star Bobby Bonds, had been driven from the game due to alcoholism. As he aged, media and fans turned against Barry Bonds once evidence — most of it illegally leaked to the media by anonymous sources — mounted that he had used performance-enhancing drugs during the latter part of his career. With his name in the headlines more regarding his legal situation than his on-field exploits, his pursuit and eclipse of Hank Aaron’s 33-year-old home run record turned into a joyless drag, and he disappeared from the major league scene soon afterwards despite still ranking among the game’s most dangerous hitters even at age 43.

Bonds is hardly alone among the candidates on the 2013 ballot with links to PEDs; fellow first-timers Clemens and Sammy Sosa join holdovers Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, neither of whom have received anywhere near enough votes to gain entry. His case for Cooperstown may share similarities with each of those players, but ultimately, he’s in a class all by himself.

Player  Career Peak JAWS HR  SB  AVG OBP  SLG  TAv
Barry Bonds 158.1 71.1 114.6 2986 2935 762 514 .298 .444 .607 .350
AVG HOF LF 61.7 39.7 50.7

Like his father, Bonds was born in Riverside, Calif. He grew up further north, in San Carlos, and not surprisingly, excelled in baseball once he reached high school. The Giants chose him in the second round of the 1982 draft, the same year that his father’s professional career ended with a brief stint for the Yankees’ Triple-A team. The younger Bonds chose not to sign with the Giants, and instead headed for Arizona State, where he earned All-American honors. He was drafted again after his junior year, this time by the Pirates as the sixth overall pick. B.J. Surhoff (Brewers), Will Clark (Giants), Bobby Witt (Rangers), Barry Larkin (Reds) and Kurt Brown (White Sox) were the five players chosen ahead of him. He tore up the A-level Carolina League that year, and then spent two months doing the same in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League in 1986 before being called up in late May. He made his major league debut on May 30, 1986, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a walk against the Dodgers, though in August of that year, he appeared in the 17th inning of a suspended game that had begun on April 20, driving in the winning run in what now stands as his backdated “debut.”

Bonds hit just .223/.330/.416 for the Pirates in 1986 — coincidentally, also Jim Leyland’s first year as manager — and struck out 102 times, the only time he would reach triple digits in that category. Batting leadoff most of the time, he did homer 16 times, steal 36 bases in 43 attempts,walk 65 times in 484 plate appearances, and play above-average defense in center field (despite reviews to the contrary) — a respectable showing for a 21-year old rookie, good for 3.3 WAR. Shifting over to left field to accommodate the arrival of Andy Van Slyke, Bonds improved to 25 homers, 32 steals, 5.5 WAR and a .261/.329/.492 line in 1987. His plate discipline, and the respect accorded him by NL pitchers, took a big leap forward over the next two years; he drew 14 intentional walks among his 72 overall in 1988, and 22 out of 93 in 1989, though he slumped to 19 homers and a .248 batting average in the latter year. That winter, the Pirates and Dodgers discussed a trade that would have sent third baseman Jeff Hamilton and reliever John Wetteland to Pittsburgh for Bonds.

Bonds broke out in 1990, earning All-Star and Gold Glove honors while hitting .301/.406/.565 with 33 homers (fourth in the league) and 52 steals (third). The 30-30 feat placed him in select company as one of 13 players to reach that dual milestone; his father had done so five times, while Mays was one of two other players to do so twice up to that point. His slugging percentage and his 9.5 WAR both led the league — the first of four straight times he led in the latter category — and he won his first MVP award in a nearly unanimous vote where one stray first-place ballot went to teammate Bobby Bonilla. The two killer BBs helped the Pirates go 95-67, winning the NL East for the first time since 1979 but losing a six-game NLCS to the Reds.

Bonds helped the Pirates win the NL East in each of the next two seasons as well, though they succumbed to the Braves in seven-game NLCS both times. He led the NL with a .410 on-base percentage in 1991 but dipped to 25 homers and 43 steals, though his 7.6 WAR still led the league. He led in both on-base and slugging percentages the next year while hitting .311/.456/.624 and leading the league in walks for the first time with 127 (32 intentional); while it’s tempting to attribute those latter totals to the departure of Bonilla for the Mets via free agency after the 1991 season, the reality is that Leyland batted Bonilla fourth and Bonds fifth (!) for most of the former’s final two years in Pittsburgh (Van Slyke hit third). After horrendous performances in his first two NLCS appearances, Bonds hit .261/.433/.435 with a homer and six walks in 1992, but it wasn’t enough. He did take home his second NL MVP trophy, avenging his loss to the Braves’ Terry Pendleton the year before.

That was the end of Bonds’ time in Pittsburgh. Now 28 years old, he signed a six-year, $43.75 million with the Giants, setting records for the largest deal ever (surpassing Cal Ripken’s $32.5 million) and the highest average annual value (surpassing Ryne Sandberg’s $7.22 million). Mays offered to unretire uniform number 24 for him to wear, but Bonds instead opted for the number 25, worn by his father as a Giant from 1968 through 1974. He lived up to his new contract with another MVP-winning season, hitting .336/.458/.677, leading the league in the latter two categories as well as homers (46), RBI (123) and intentional walks (43). The Giants won 103 games, but thanks to a pair of homers by Dodgers rookie Mike Piazza on the final day of the season, lost out to the 104-win Braves for the NL West flag.

Helped along by more league-leading walk totals, Bonds posted on-base percentages of .426 or more and slugging percentages of .577 or more in each of the next four years, averaging 38 homers a year in spite of the 1994-1995 players’ strike and leading the league in WAR in both 1995 and 1996. Only in 1997 — the year second baseman Jeff Kent joined the team — did the Giants reach the playoffs, and they were swept by the Marlins in three games.

Bonds hit a fairly typical .303/.438/.609 with 37 homers, 28 steals and 130 walks in 1998, but his performance was lost amid the McGwire-Sosa home run chase. The story that later emerged from reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams in their book Game of Shadows is that the attention accorded to those two sluggers is what led Bonds to take performance-enhancing drugs to keep up; after that season, he began training with Greg Anderson, a weightlifter and steroid dealer. Amid his intense training regimen, he tore a triceps tendon in his right elbow early in the 1999 season and needed surgery. Despite missing seven weeks, he still hit 34 homers — just three fewer than the year before — in 102 games. He set a career-high with 49 homers in 2000 — second in the league, one short of Sosa’s total — and hit .306/.440/.688, good for 7.5 WAR (third in the league). Playing their first year in Pac Bell Park, the Giants won the NL West, but fell to the Mets in the Division Series. Bonds lost out on the MVP award to Kent, who hit .334/.424/.596 with 34 homers and 6.9 WAR, but drove in 125 runs, 19 more than his teammate.

His swing more compact than ever, his strike zone judgement so precise, his ability to dig in at the plate enhanced by a bulky elbow guard Bonds put up videogame numbers in 2001: a .328/.515/.863 line with 73 homers and 177 walks; those last three numbers all set records. His sixth home run of the year, off the Dodgers’ Terry Adams on April 17, made him the 17th player to reach 500 homers; it came in a flurry of six consecutive games with a home run. He matched that streak in May, this time hitting nine homers over a six-game stretch. At one point, he hit 38 homers during a 61-game stretch, a 101-homer pace if projected out to a full 162 games. His 71st blast of the year, off the Dodgers’ Chan Ho Park on October 5, 2001, broke McGwire’s three-year-old record, but it — and his 72nd homer, also off Park — came in the same game in which the Giants were eliminated from postseason contention. Still, he became the first four-time MVP in baseball history, and kicked off another stretch of four straight years leading the league in WAR, with 11.6.

Bonds would never again hit as many as 50 home runs in a season, as managers grew increasingly wary of pitching to him. From 2002-2004 he batted a combined .358/.575/.786 while averaging 45 homers and 193 walks per year, 83 of them intentional; in 2004, he drew a 232 walks, 120 of them intentional en route to a .609 on-base percentage, all records. He took home MVP honors in each of those years, running his total to seven. On August 9, 2002, he hit his 600th homer off the Pirates’ Kip Wells, becoming just the fourth player to reach that plateau after Ruth, Mays and Aaron. He reached the World Series for the first time that year, and hit .471/.700/1.294 with four homers and 13 walks in a losing cause against the Angels. He passed Mays with his 661st homer off Milwaukee’s Ben Ford on April 13, 2004, and hit number 700 off San Diego’s Jake Peavy on September 17. Even having turned 40 that year, it was apparent that Bonds still had enough ability to surpass Aaron’s mark of 755 home runs.

By that point, he also had plenty of heat on him. In September 2003, Bonds’ name surfaced as one of six major league players and 21 other athletes connected to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative, which was at the center of a doping scandal involving previously undetectable steroids. In December 2003, Bonds testified in front of a grand jury that he had received “the Clear,” and “the Cream,” two such steroids, from Anderson during the 2003 season but had been told that they were flaxseed oil and a rubbing balm for arthritis. When confronted with documents — including lab test results, schedules of use and billing information — allegedly detailing his steroid regimen from 2001 through 2003, he claimed to have no knowledge that any substance he had ingested was illegal. All of this information was supposed to remain under court seal, but was leaked to the media illegally.

An entire cottage industry devoted to covering the BALCO scandal sprang up, and the case dragged on for years. Meanwhile, Major League Baseball began cracking down on performance-enhancing drug use by instituting testing and suspensions. Bonds’ involvement in the BALCO case led the House of Representatives Government Reform Committee to omit him from their list of players and executives they called to testify in March 2005, in part because committee leaders feared his presence would overshadow the proceedings.

Bonds had other problems by then. After undergoing a minor cleanup on his left knee in October 2004, he had surgery on his right knee in January 2005, then suffered new tears in the menisci in that same knee, requiring yet another surgery on March 17, the same day as the hearings. He needed a third surgery in May to clean out an infection, and didn’t make his season debut until September 12; he homered five times in 14 games, running his career total to 708. With routine days off incorporated into his schedule, he returned to regular action the following year, hitting .270/.454/.545 with 26 homers and a league-leading 115 walks in 130 games. During spring training, a lengthy excerpt from Game of Shadows had been published in Sports Illustrated, detailing Bonds’ steroid usage and relationship with BALCO, and dampening enthusiasm for the barrage of milestones that would follow. In that same issue, SI’s Tom Verducci wrote:

Delivered with the blunt force of a sledgehammer, Game of Shadows is to Barry Bonds what the Dowd Report was to Pete Rose in 1989–it destroys the reputation of one of baseball’s most accomplished players. Whether Bonds never hits another home run or hits 48 more, which would give him the most of all time, he never can be regarded with honor or full legitimacy. Shadows painstakingly catalogs him as a serial drug cheat, and thus the eye-popping stats that he has accrued stand all too literally as too good to be true.

Bonds soldiered on nonetheless. His May 28 homer off Colorado’s Byung-Hyun Kim, the 715th of his career, pushed him past Ruth. He ended the year with 734 homers, and began his final push towards Aaron’s total the following year. Number 755 came against the Padres’ Clay Hensley in San Diego on August 4, 2007, snapping a six-game homerless drought full of cut-ins to virtually every one of his plate appearances and landing him on the cover of SI. Number 756 came in San Francisco against Washington’s Mike Bacsik on August 7.

Bonds’s 28 homers brought his career total to 762, and while he had hit .276/.480/.565 with another league-leading on-base percentage, the Giants decided that the 43-year-old free agent was too expensive and too much trouble to keep. Despite his desire to continue playing, the rest of the industry shunned him, at least in part because the federal grand jury indicted him on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in November 2007. Bonds pled not guilty in December. Flaws in the drafting of the indictment led to three more rounds of indictments and not guilty pleas, the last of them in March 2011. His trial began on March 21 of that year, and he was found guilty on one count of obstruction of justice for giving an evasive answer when asked if Anderson had given him anything that required him to inject himself. The judge declared a mistrial on three remaining counts of making false statements to the grand jury. Bonds is still appealing his conviction, while the government has yet to decide whether it will retry him. It’s estimated that the government spent at least $50 million of taxpayer money to investigate BALCO via a prosecution whose misconduct with regards to due process and the right to privacy was far more odious than any of Bonds’ sins.

The legal mess aside, Bonds’ numbers make a case for him as the greatest position player of all time; he holds the records for homers and walks while ranking second in times on base (5,599) and extra-base hits (1,440), third in runs scored (2,227), fourth in RBI (1,996) and total bases (5,976), and a still-impressive 33rd in steals (514). In addition to his seven MVP awards, he made 14 All-Star teams. Among batters with at least 7,000 plate appearances, his .444 on-base percentage ranks fifth all-time behind Williams, Ruth, Billy Hamilton and Lou Gehrig, while his .607 slugging percentage ranks sixth behind Ruth, Williams, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Albert Pujols, who is likely to slip below him in time. His .350 True Average — a Baseball Prospectus stat that expresses a player’s runs created per plate appearance on a batting average scale after adjusting for park and league scoring levels — ranks eighth:

Rank Player TAv PA
1 Babe Ruth .400 10617
2 Lou Gehrig .374 9660
3 Ted Williams .374 9791
4 Rogers Hornsby .358 9464
5 Dan Brouthers .356 7676
6 Mickey Mantle .353 9909
7 Jimmie Foxx .351 9670
8 Barry Bonds .350 12385
9 Ty Cobb .345 13068
10 Joe Dimaggio .343 7671

Thanks to his abilities on the basepaths and in the field, Bonds’ 158.1 WAR is not only tops among left fielders but higher than any player besides Ruth (159.2 as a hitter and another 19.1 as a pitcher), and Cy Young (160.8). Bonds’ career WAR outdistances that of Williams, the second-ranked left fielder, by a whopping 38.3 wins, while his 71.1 peak WAR outdoes the Splendid Splinter by 3.5 wins, half a win per year.

The extent to which Bonds’ numbers owe something to PED use is unknowable, but whether he’ll get into the Hall of Fame has more to do with how the voters view his relationship to the drugs. In the eyes of many voters, Bonds and every other PED user is a cheater, beyond redemption in the context of recognizing the games greats. As I’ve outlined earlier in this series and at greater length in the book Extra Innings, I disagree with that mindset. Instead, I believe that voters should distinguish between PED use that came during baseball’s “Wild West” era — when it took a complete institutional failure on the part of the players’ union, team owners, the commissioner, the media and fans to prevent a coherent drug policy from being implemented — and use that came after testing began and penalties were imposed.

From what we know, Bonds’ usage occurred in the context of so many other dopers, pitchers as well as hitters. He is a reflection of the era in which he played. If one wants to play the “He was a Hall of Famer before he touched the stuff” game as I did with Clemens, considering only what Bonds did through 1998, his 411 homers, 1,917 hits, 445 steals and .290/.411/.556 line were good for 96.9 career WAR (which would rank third among left fielders), 61.2 peak WAR (second) and 79.1 JAWS (third behind Williams and Rickey Henderson). Bottom line: he gets a “vote” here, warts and all.

It’s unlikely that he’ll get in on the first ballot. Baseball Think Factory’s tracking of 67 published Hall of Fame votes — roughly 11.5 percent of the field relative to last year’s tally — shows him at 49.3 percent, below three other first-time candidates: Craig Biggio (70.1 percent), Mike Piazza (61.2 percent) and Clemens (50.7 percent). That’s well short of the 75 percent needed for election, but enough to suggest that he will eventually get in.

With the December 31 deadline for voting drawing near, this concludes my rather exhaustive rundown of the 37 candidates on the ballot. I’ll be back with a recap of the candidates recognized by the JAWS system as worthy of a vote, and a look at the thorny problem of limited ballot space in the near future.

88 comments
Dan S1
Dan S1

Bonds willingly took steroids AFTER they were banned.  The "greenies" of the 1960s were not a banned substance.  Nor were Mickey Mantle's beers or even Tim Raines's cocaine.  The 'roids had been banned by baseball as detrimental to the game…and Bonds took them.  Just like Pete Rose gambled on baseball, after that had been banned.  Break the rules, lose the Hall.  Period, end of sentence.

 

And yes, Selig the Corrupt turned a blind eye to this, and encouraged Bonds to cheat in other ways.  He got to wear armor-plating and stand practically on top of the plate to cover the outside corner (his hands were in the strike zone in his normal swing!) but if you even threw an inside fastball at him, you got ejected.  Put him in the 1960s and see how long it would take Gibson and Drysdale to crack his skull open like an egg for that nonsense.  (No, I've never really been comfortable with the veneration of Gibby's homicidal instincts, and I think Big D's election was a Rizzuto-like joke, but Bonds is way too far in the other direction.  Selig smelled the money coming off of him and let him "rewrite" the record book, honest game-play be damned.)

gamelover
gamelover

Many of you have made valid points as to those already in the Hall and those that are being considered.

There are those who used steroids prior to the ban that were elected .

But once the rule was established then those that fail to adhere and play fairly shouldn't be considered.

Rules are " not " to be broken, but rather followed.

A cheater is a cheater regardless of ethic background , period.

AlbertTydings
AlbertTydings

I hope he is elected to the Hall Of Fame so even less people will visit the hall and officially repudiate with the disgust for people that cheat.   

BobFeller
BobFeller

Let's just say that Jose Canseco was right and somewhere between 70-80% of all players during the "Steroid Era" took PEDs. How many of them, other than Bonds, hit at least 650 home runs, let alone 762? 73 home runs in a season? How many won at least four MVP awards, let alone consecutively? How many won 7 MVP awards overall? How many hit at least 500 home runs and stole 500 bases? 

 

If this era has to have elected members in the hall, would you not pick the best of the era? Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds were the best of their respective era. 

alxnick
alxnick

iTS FUNNY THAT THE PERSON ALL OF YOU WANT TO REMEMBER IS BONDS.  BUT THE FACT IS VICTOR CONTE MADE THE STEROIDS AND YOU FOLKS ARE AFTER THE BLACK MAN.  ITS REALLY WEIRD. IN THE WAR AGAINST DRUGS  BATTLE THAT AMERICA  HAS BEEN LOSING BY A LANDSLIDE, THE CAUSE IS THE PEOPLE. THE LAW ENFORCEMENT ARREST BLACK MALES WHO AGAIN DO NOT GROW LARGE AMOUNTS OF DRUGS.  SINCE THE GROWERS OF DRUGS HAVE BEEN PRETTY MUCH OFF OF THE ARREST RADAR TO OUR LAW ENFORCERS. THEY HAVE NO CHANCE AND THEY KNOW HOW STUPID IT IS TO LIE TO US ABOUT TRYING TO STOP DRUGS FROM OUR CHOSEN ATTACK POINT.  IF I WANT TO REMOVE ALL THE  LEAVES FROM  A TREE, I SHOULD CUT IF DOWN AT THE END OF WINTER, THAT WAY NO LEAVES WILL GROW.  iF I WAIT AND LET THE LEAVES GROW, I WILL SPENT MANY DAYS TRYING TO REMOVE THEM. THATS OUR DRUG WAR!  IF WE FIGHT ILLEGAL ALIENS LIKE THAT, BY WAITING UNTIL THEY ALL GET INSIDE THIS COUNTRY, WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO REMOVE ALL OF THEM. WE DIDNT FIGHT DRUGS LIKE THAT. LET BARRY IN, GO AFTER VICTOR CONTE. THIS IS ANOTHER RACIAL LYNCHING AND NOTHING MORE.

Rusty1
Rusty1

If they let bonds, a-roid and any of the known juicers in it will forever be known as the hall of shame.

RichardFain
RichardFain

If this a7s

gets in,  they should open the HALL to anybody. NO NO NO DO NOT LET THE PUSHER IN

ChrisSchons
ChrisSchons

To those who ask, What kind of message would putting Bonds in the HoF send to kids?, I would respond: What kind of message do the big fat contracts of PED users Melky Cabrera and David Ortiz send to kids?

Atlanta_Falcons_No1
Atlanta_Falcons_No1

I saw Bonds play in the 1992 NLCS vs Atlanta Braves in Three Rivers, he was a heck of a talent. Unfortunately he used PED's. The sad thing is he didn't need them, he would have made the HOF without the juice, not sure what he was thinking other than the money and extending his career. Nevertheless, he shouldn't be in the Hall because he did use PED's.

Rusty1
Rusty1

If they vote Barry Bonds into the hall of fame will be the day I am done with baseball. Same for A-roid and all the "known" juicers.

DoubleG
DoubleG

Still can't help but wonder what the stats would be if not for PED's.  Also can't help but wonder what stats they might have put up if Mantle and others in his day were playing without hang overs all the time.

JennyBonah
JennyBonah

One question. Who is the best hitter that ever lived? You all figure that out.

ScottEggerling
ScottEggerling

pete rose belongs in the hall before this guy does !

[The Tramp]
[The Tramp]

no, no, and no.  he doesn't deserve it.  maybe earned it, but lost it with the botox. or whatever he was taking.

KellieAnn
KellieAnn

Okay, so, maybe I'm alone here - but SI has an article out arguing that Bonds should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. I am not a baseball fan but I am vehemently opposed to this reward for what amounts to cheating at the game. What kind of message are we sending to tomorrow's players? To children? That it's okay to take steroids as long as it makes you REALLY GOOD at what you're doing?Sure, there could be the argument that he was headed for the Hall before he ever touched steroids, but the fact is that he did - he cheated - and the America I'd like to think I live in doesn't reward cheaters. See Lance Armstrong if you doubt it.

JustinCase
JustinCase

A lot of words in an effort to defend a cheater. Bonds can get in right after Pete Rose.

GaryGuillermo
GaryGuillermo

Bonds is paying the price for being such a JERK . . . that's what I believe  . . the way he treated people, the way he was with the press.  There is no doubt the drugs helped his performance and there is no knowing how many others were using too.  There has gotta be some guys that made it in that were on something.  We are not talking about "sainthood" here . . . I say let the "jerk" in.

davidbierly1
davidbierly1

Bonds was exactly that...the best hitter I've ever seen and I'm 62, so I've seen some...Willie mays, Mickey mantle, and so on...shame on those who choose to judge...what about the cocaine users or rapists or pill poppers you already have in the Hall...move on

LouDoench
LouDoench

I'd just like to officially use the platform granted by Sports Illustrated and Mr. Jay Jaffe to state, for the record, that I don't give a flying off the top rope double inverted <profanity deleted> if Barry Bonds injected ground up unicorn horns mixed with baby angel tears into his <profane term for human genitalia deleted>.  He was the best hitter I ever saw.  Period.  

 

SeanAtkinson
SeanAtkinson

Has anyone bothered to read this piece, or, is everyone just filled too much with righteous indignation?

 

As pointed out:

 

If one wants to play the “He was a Hall of Famer before he touched the stuff” game as I did with Clemens, considering only what Bonds did through 1998, his 411 homers, 1,917 hits, 445 steals and .290/.411/.556 line were good for 96.9 career WAR (which would rank third among left fielders), 61.2 peak WAR (second) and 79.1 JAWS (third behind Williams and Rickey Henderson).

 

Does anyone grasp that fact?

 

Bonds is not only the greatest player of his generation, he is one of the greatest players to ever play the game.

 

While Bonds was wrong to use PEDs, it can be argued that Major League Baseball is even more at fault. Bonds only started using PEDS after he had a season in which his numbers were 303/.438/.609 with 37 homers, 28 steals and 130 walks. That is an absolutely brilliant season and nobody cared because Sosa and McGwire were too busy being juiced up.

 

How would you feel if you were one of the greatest players ever getting overshadowed by a bunch of cheats?

 

The majority of players were juicing. Even before the steroid era, people were using a plethora of things to better their performance, yet, they are still in the hall of fame.

 

Barry Bonds is a product of his era. A Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds is nothing more than a museum where people like to think life is black and white and are only interested in applying a standard of judgment that they would not dare apply to themselves.

santiagostartup
santiagostartup

The facts are: Bonds was accused of taking steroids. The Federal Government (prosecutors) went after him for 7 years and they lost. Those are the facts. They started with over 25 charges and after 84 months of spending the public's money, they got a "being less than honest" charge. Not a "lying" to the Feds charge (perjury), which carries a prison sentence. Us men claim we are logical beings but some of you sound pretty emotional and "sensitive." I love your opinions but truth is, he is the best of all time + he was accused by some "illegal" leaked documents + he was never charged. So you are only being dishonest with yourself and, might a say, a bit too "sensitive" (LOL) when your only argument is he did steroids. The dude is a BADDDDDDD man.....and it just kills you to see someone so vain, so good. It goes against your cartoon and superhero rules! Get over it little girls.

Michael10
Michael10

 @alxnick Yes, HOF voters have been racially profiling Mark McGwire for years.  Down with the Man...

StephenConnor
StephenConnor

 @Rusty1 If they kick all the cheaters out of the Hall of fame it will be empty.  Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt have admitted to using amphetamines.  Charles Comiskey and a host of others gambled on baseball.  These strange double standards do nothing to enhance the hall of fame.  If they want the shame out of the hall of fame they would have to kick out Cap Anson and Ty Cobb.

 

BobFeller
BobFeller

 @Rusty1 You do understand that James 'Pud' Galvin, the first 300-game winner and hall of fame inductee, was the first widely known user of steroids. He told the public that he used them and started using them in 1889.

 

Willie Mays, Pete Rose, and Hank Aaron (among others) used amphetamines throughout their careers. (Amphetamines are currently illegal in baseball). 

slogun23
slogun23

 @ChrisSchons I'll raise my kid, NOT leave it up to some idol-worship of baseball players. My kid will know NOT to use these guys as some measure in life.

So do you also worry about the message we send kids with TV, Radio, Movies, Advertising, Religion, Culture, etc etc etc? Then your kid must never leave the house or be exposed to anything but you huh?

Silly argument.

StephenConnor
StephenConnor

 @Rusty1 Seriously?  Are you trying to pretend that Amphetamines are not PEDs?  Funny thing is that according to the US Anti Doping Agency, the penalty for using Amphetamines is the same as for Steroids.  That's because they are both considered to that an enhancing effect.   Plus don't pretend that players in the sixties didn't know it was illegal or that they didn't know it was cheating.  They also knew all the other players were doing it and if they didn't then they would be at a disadvantage.  Hmmmm.... starting to sound familiar?

Michael10
Michael10

 @Rusty1 The Hall of Fame is run independently of organized baseball.  If you were going to be turned off by the decisions of MLB, you'd be done already...

Michael10
Michael10

 @JennyBonah If you answer anyone other than "Ruth," you flunk Baseball 101.  The question is: who is the second best hitter?

 

If you answer "Bonds," you flunk Baseball 102.

BobFeller
BobFeller

 @JennyBonah Ted Williams, Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby, Barry Bonds, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, or Willie Mays are all legitimate contenders. 

StephenConnor
StephenConnor

 @KellieAnn We pretty much teach kids all the time that it's okay to cheat so long as it makes you really really rich.  That's why we have the problems on Wall Street today.  People have cheated in baseball as long as there has been baseball and if they did it well (like Gaylord Perry or Don Drysdale) they got into the hall of fame.  Some complete jerks like Cap Anson are in the Hall of fame and some gamblers made it in while others were kept out.  I admit that it doesn't really make any sense at all but then if you read a lot of what sports journalists write you would understand why that is.

BobFeller
BobFeller

 @KellieAnn Many, MANY players in the Hall of Fame cheated in one way or another. Pud Galvin openly cheated with steroids beginning in 1889.

SeanAtkinson
SeanAtkinson

What kind of message are we sending to children when we completely ignore context, one's history, and the history of the game in general (which has seen more than one cheat enter into the Hall of Fame)?

Michael10
Michael10

 @GaryGuillermo I agree -- he is a jerk.  And if that's what holds up his ticket to Cooperstown, so be it...

BobFeller
BobFeller

 @davidbierly1 Or the spitball pitchers, or Pud Galvin and his steroid usage, or anyone else for that matter. I agree with you.

CarlFromLaurel
CarlFromLaurel

 @SeanAtkinson “He was a Hall of Famer before he touched the stuff”...but should be disqualified once he did.  He tarnished the game and smeared his own name.  If the game of baseball itself wants to maintain any credibility, he's done.

Michael10
Michael10

 @santiagostartup Folks, let's at least get one thing straight -- Ruth was the best of all-time, not Bonds...

Rusty1
Rusty1

 @santiagostartup This is not a court of law.  Bonds is was and always be a cheater.  VOTE  NO

Michael10
Michael10

 @SeanAtkinson Yes, let's at least be consistent in letting cheats into the HOF.  We wouldn't want to send the wrong message to future generations by wising up and learning from our mistakes...

SeanAtkinson
SeanAtkinson

@CarlFromLaurel@SeanAtkinson

By that logic, anyone who has ever been suspended should be banned from the Hall. If baseball wants to maintain its credibility, it should admit that it was culpable in what transpired, and let Barry in. Mind you, I am biased. Barry was my favourite player since I was a kid. That being said, can you put yourself in his shoes? Look how long he resisted the temptation to cheat. Baseball was pretty much all he had. Can you imagine how bad a guy must feel in order to do the one thing he swore he would never do? 

 

Think about the life of Barry Bonds. He saw what happened to his dad because, his dad had a disease that many people struggle with, and society just looks down on. He was born with a chip on his shoulder. His natural talent made him great. Everyone decided to overlook that because, baseball was in need of a comeback and didn't care about what it took.  People like to hate Barry since he did not fit their idea of a nice guy.

 

Who are we to judge his personality? 

 

He was employed to play baseball, not to be a humanitarian. 

 

If he was a Hall of Famer before he touched anything, why should his PED use now take away from that? I am amazed at how harsh we are as a society on others when we have all made terrible mistakes. 

StephenConnor
StephenConnor

 @Michael10  @santiagostartup Ever heard of Josh Gibson?  Yeah wake the F up!!  You can't ever determine the best of all time because the times are all so different.  Best of ALL time claim is utterly specious.  You can only determine the best of certain segments of time and even that is kind of tenuous

CarlFromLaurel
CarlFromLaurel

 @WaltSchumate  @SeanAtkinson  @CarlFromLaurel The case of Shoeless Joe is already decided by MLB, and has been for almost 100 years now.  The fact is he cheated in one situation (that is known to us), the 1919 World Series, and he is out forever.  Bonds, it seems, was cheating every day, every game, for years and years, in the regular season, All-Star games, and several post-seasons.  He assembled statistics that were clearly skewed and defrauded the public that paid for both game tickets and cable television to watch him, and provided financing for the stadium in which he played.  Bonds should also be out forever.  

Michael10
Michael10

Let me clarify: Best MAJOR LEAGUE hitter of all-time -- Babe Ruth.

 

Gibson might have been great had he played in the majors.  Bo Jackson might have been great if he hadn't broken his hip.  Michael Jordan might have been Barry Bonds if he'd committed to baseball rather than basketball.  We're not talking "coulda," we're talking "was."

 

And of course it's in the context of era -- it has to be.  Guys in the 19th century played barehanded before they upgraded to oven mitts and without helmets.  Guys like Bonds have personal trainers and private jets and come to the plate armored like tanks.