Do Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens Really Deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

While the MLB is still drowning in a lockout within weeks before pitchers and catchers report for spring training, some of the only baseball related news we’ve gotten is the Hall of Fame inductees for the class of 2022. Some notable players who reached their 10th and final year on the ballot include Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Along with some notable first year balloters including Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz. The ballot came to a close with David Ortiz reaching the 75% voting percentage to earn his spot in the Hall of Fame, being the lone player elected to be inducted in 2022. 

 Bonds’ and Clemens’ failure to be inducted comes from the fact that both had been linked to using steroids; and as expected, there was outcry from fans, journalists and even MLB players. Within their time on the ballot, Bonds and Clemens have failed to reach the 75% of voting from the MLB writers,  “For the past nine years, at least one-third of the baseball writers who adjudicate such matters have found Bonds’ use of performance enhancing drugs to be disqualifying”, wrote Jeff Passan from ESPN. 

Still, years later, the controversy over the steroid and PED (performance enhancing drugs) era in baseball has not died down; and this controversy has interfered with the preservation of baseball history. 

As you walk into the Hall of Fame, a bronze plaque hangs on the wall that reads, “The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to Preserve History, which is what we seek to do throughout the Museum.” If so, then that statement has been broken. Arguably two of baseball’s greatest players; Barry Bonds—the all time leader in home runs— and Roger Clemens— the first 7-time Cy Young Award winner— will not be preserved with baseball’s most honorable recognition. 

The controversy lies with this year’s inductee, David Ortiz, who has also been linked to using steroids back in the earlier days of his career. During spring training in 2003, a leaked drug test came back with a list of over 100 players testing positive with Ortiz being pinned as one of the users. Since MLB’s strengthened PED and drug use interference starting in 2004, Ortiz had never tested positive again. 

Ortiz on Bonds, Clemens and former teammate Manny Ramirez not making it into the Hall of Fame, “Not having them join me is hard for me to believe, to be honest with you,” Ortiz said. “These guys, I did not even compare myself with them.” 

The stats alone on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens should be enough to preserve their names on a bronze plaque in Cooperstown. Barry Bonds; the all time leader in home runs and the only 7-time MVP winner. And Roger Clemens; the only 7-time Cy Young Award winner. These guys are two of the best baseball players within its history. 

Barry Bonds’ career numbers themselves are outstanding. Not to mention he is the all-time leader in home runs (762), all time leader in walks (2558) and all time leader in intentional walks (688). Numbers wise, Barry Bonds can be compared to two all time greats, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams, who were two of the greatest hitters baseball has ever seen. Only Ruth, Williams and Bonds have produced an OPS higher than 1.250 in a single season. Roger Clemens’ career stats are similarly outstanding from a pitchers’ perspective. With a collective ERA (earned run average) of 3.12 and a WHIP (walks and hits by innings pitched) of 1.173, Clemens comes in third in all time career strikeouts at 4672 with only Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan having more. 

So this is what the Hall of Fame is missing out on— two of the best players to ever step foot on the field. The argument behind it is that it could destroy the mentality of being awarded with baseball’s highest honor, but the truth is, I can guarantee you there are multiple players in there who have used steroids. It’s a flaw within the Hall of Fame, the same people who have elected multiple racists and domestic abusers, just to name a few obscurities. 

However, there are ways to satisfy the Hall’s mission and statement by inducting Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to preserve history. It is possible to honor two of the greatest players in baseball while acknowledging their mistakes. And by doing that, that is how you can preserve baseball’s history. 

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