Barry Bonds Fails to Make Hall of Fame With Just 36% of Vote; Clemens Also Denied
Update: MLB is reporting that Barry Bonds received just 36.2 percent in the Hall of Fame vote. Clemens got 37.6 percent. A candidate needs 75 percent of the vote to be elected, and no players were voted in for the first time since 1996.
Bonds hit 762 home runs, the most in baseball history. Clemens won 354 games over 24 years, losing just 184 times. He also notched more than 4,600 strikeouts.
Here’s a list of the top 10 vote-getters, with Craig Biggio, Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell leading the pack. Former A’s slugger Mark McGwire received 16.9 percent; that’s down from 19.5 percent last year and a high of 27.3 percent in 2010.
Here are two sportswriters, Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated and Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area, explaining why they didn’t vote for the steroids gang. Verducci’s is called “Why I’ll never vote for a known steroids user for the Hall of Fame.” And here’s sports writer Allen Barra in Salon with a piece called “Bonds, Clemens must be forgiven.”
Waiting to find out today how Barry Bonds did in Hall of Fame voting may be a little like waiting to find out how Mitt Romney did in California. Meaning the only real suspense revolves around how much did he lose by. Bonds detractors will no doubt want to tune in the official release of results. You can watch live at ABC News Bay Area at 11 a.m.
It’s not looking good for Bonds. The Linemakers at The Sporting News put the odds of Bonds being voted in, as well as those for other steroids guy Roger Clemens, at 40-1. The column makes the chances of another Bay Area heavy hitter, Mark McGwire, who has failed to make the ballot every year since 2007, at 500-1.
Here’s the crux of the matter, from Long Island Newsday:
This ballot is one of the most controversial in history. Headlined by seven-time MVP Barry Bonds and seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, the field is part of a continuing referendum not on the gaudy numbers of some of the game’s greatest players, but on the steroid era in which they played.
Bonds and Clemens, both on the ballot for the first time, are not expected to receive the necessary 75 percent of the vote from the eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America because they have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.
Slugger Sammy Sosa, another first-timer, also is likely to be snubbed because of his association with steroids. Voters have not been kind to steroid-tainted sluggers Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, who are still on the ballot but never have not gotten close to enshrinement.
Even Major League Baseball’s unofficial historian, Ken Burns, has an opinion on this. The Hollywood Reporter asked him…
The Hollywood Reporter: Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds and Mike Piazza are all on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Would you vote for them?
Ken Burns: No.
Ken Burns: I want them to suffer for a while.
THR: Even if they were good before they allegedly used steroids?
Ken Burns: I think the argument is that without a doubt Clemens and Bonds should be in there, and at the highest levels. Barry Bonds may be the greatest baseball player of all time, and Roger Clemens — maybe you’d get some arguments from the [Sandy] Koufax/[Pedro] Martinez sector and the Walter Johnson segment and the Nolan Ryan crowd — but they are two of the very, very best. And before when we think they began taking, they’re Hall of Fame caliber. But at the same time, the problem is we don’t know who didn’t at all. I mean, I know one person in all of the Major Leagues I’m absolutely certain didn’t, and that’s Ichiro Suzuki. But other than that, I have no guarantee that anyone you loved and think is way above that didn’t do it. And that is why they need to wait and wait and wait. Because it makes it impossible for us to judge excellence in this era.
Bonds of course was actually convicted of obstruction of justice related to his grand jury testimony about steroids. The jury, however, could not agree on whether Bonds had committed perjury when he testified that he never knowingly took steroids or human growth hormone, and the judge declared a mistrial. Bond was sentenced to 30 days of home detention on the obstruction charge.
HOF voter Paul Gutierrez of CSN Bay Area writes today that he did not vote for Bonds or the other steroids-connected players. Here’s how his thinking on this issue went…
It would have been easy to simply plug my nose, close my eyes and make my mark in the boxes (with big scarlet letters?) next to their names… Sorry, couldn’t do it. Not with a clear conscience, anyway…
Yes, I was that conflicted as I faxed in my ballot on New Year’s Eve. But this is not some overzealous moralist ploy with its flag planted in Rule 5 of the BBWAA Rules For Election to the National baseball Hall of Fame: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
And there it is, the so-called “character clause,” which really is not a clause at all. And yet, by juicing and making a mockery of the record book, which is a much more sacred text in baseball than in any other sport, they impugned the character of the game, regardless of the legal ramifications, or lack thereof…
On one hand, the Steroid Era happened, and Bonds and Clemens were the headliners from the batter’s box and the pitcher’s mound. Seven MVPs. Seven Cy Youngs. You can’t ignore it, can’t simply look the other way as baseball itself did at the time. Cooperstown is a living, breathing testament to the game, and to ignore the era would be a disservice to baseball’s history…
Bottom line, what do you tell impressionable children about the short cuts taken with illegal-by-government-standards pharmaceutical help, and the lack of forthrightness coming from these players? To vote now for the likes of Bonds, Clemens and Sosa, let alone Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, would serve as an endorsement of PED use, akin to telling kids it’s OK to cheat the integrity of the game to get ahead, while playing Russian Roulette with your health.
This is not to say I will never vote for a PED guy. The fog of time has a way of changing perspective and perhaps witnessing the shame of the Steroid players having to sit out a while before being voted into the Hall serves as a needed cautionary tale for those impressionable youths. Full post here
In November, Bonds told MLB.com that he did “really care” about making the Hall…
“I do really care,” Bonds said. “I may say I don’t, but I do really care. I’ve been through a lot in my life so not too many things bother me. Making the Hall of Fame, would it be something that’s gratifying because of what I’ve sacrificed? Sure. Baseball has been a big part of our lives. We’ve sacrificed our bodies. It’s the way we made our living.” …
Bonds says that he wishes he had done some things differently. “But I can’t turn back the clock now,” he said. “Time has passed. Wounds for me have healed.”
Even so, he wishes some people, including eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America who will be casting their ballots in December, would forgive if not forget.
“I don’t even know how to explain it. The world has become so negative,” Bonds said. “One day, I’ll be able to say things the right way. But it’s tough when you have so many people out there who don’t want to turn the page and want to be angry at you forever. I don’t understand why it continues on. What am I doing wrong?
“I can sit here and say, ‘You know what? Baseball is great. I love it.’ I can sit here and say in a very kind way that I’m sorry about the way things ended. I can sit here and say that I respect the Hall of Fame, which I do. But I don’t understand all the controversy we’re having about it. For what reason? What’s there to be gained by all of this? What’s the point?”
Here’s one sportswriter — Allen Barra — that says Bonds and Clemens should be voted in.