On Tuesday afternoon it was announced that former Boston Red Sox David Ortiz was elected into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame and was the only member on the ballot elected. The biggest story this week is not celebrating the career of David Ortiz who made the Hall on his first attempt, but instead is focusing on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not making it on their 10th and final attempt. This article is going to focus solely on Barry Bonds.
“The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to preserve history” is the official mission statement of the MLB Hall of Fame and yet, Barry Bonds, who you cannot tell the story of baseball without mentioning, is not in the Hall of Fame. Bonds is arguably the greatest baseball player of all time and the best hitter that we have ever seen. Many writers are holding a moral high ground and not voting Bonds in the Hall due to him being the face of the Steroid Era.
It is important to note that Bonds never tested positive for a banned substance while he was playing. Bonds would later state in a leaked grand-jury testimony that he unknowingly took PEDs when his personal trainer misled him and led Bonds to believe it was flax oil. Barry Bonds in his career before the alleged steroid use had a 49 war (David Ortiz career WAR is 51) and on April 27th, 1996 he became the 4th member in MLB history to join the 300 home run and 300 stolen base club.
If Bonds retired before 1999, he would’ve ended his career with a .290 average, 411 home runs, 1,917 hits, 1,216 RBI, 1,357 walks and a .966 OPS. There are just 4 players in MLB history who have at least 400 HRs, 1,900 hits with a .290 average and a career 160 OPS+ and up and all 4 of them are in the Hall of Fame. Bonds’ true talent cannot be denied and many will try to tarnish what he did because of PEDs. PEDs do not make you better. If you or I took PEDs we wouldn’t be in the major leagues. And in fact, a former MASN broadcaster tested positive for PEDs during his playing days and his career numbers actually got worse following the positive test.
Bonds’ numbers pre-amphetamines were Hall of Fame worthy and what we saw from 2000 on (primarily 2001-2004) is the greatest span any player in MLB history has ever had. Barry Bonds saved baseball. His impact on the game is undeniable and his impact was leaned into and embraced by the executives in the league. Bud Selig (who is in the Hall of Fame) used the steroid era to grow the game of baseball and market it to undo the damage the strike in the mid 90s did to the game. Bud Selig knew players were using steroids, but did what every single person in the league did (including the writers) and played into it to help grow and save Major League Baseball.
What we are seeing today from the BBWAA is pure hypocrisy. David Ortiz is the first player who had a positive PED test during his playing days to make the Hall of Fame. But there are countless players in the Hall who were heavily suspected of using PEDs (especially amphetamines) and there were no issues about them. Players who played during the Cocaine Era who said the drugs helped them play better are in the Hall. Baseball writers decide to use the argument of morality at very odd times. They claim they aren’t voting in Bonds due to character and integrity, but happily voted Chipper Jones in the Hall. One writer in this year’s voting said they did not vote for Bonds due to character but happily voted for Curt Schilling.
Bonds’ legacy in baseball cannot be denied. He is an integral part of its history and no one can downplay the hold Bonds had on this country while chasing the home run king title. If the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame mission was accurate and that they do actually want to preserve history, they would have put Barry Bonds in the Hall. Now, Bonds and Roger Clemens will have one final shot to make the Hall in this year’s veterans committee vote.