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Bonds, Clemens, and the Hall of Fame


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On Jan. 9, 2013, this year’s Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class was announced. The big story around this year’s class was Barry Bonds’ and Roger Clemens’ first appearances on the Hall’s ballot. Neither these two, or anybody that was eligible to be voted in, got the 75% of the vote needed to be elected into the Hall. Statistically, Bonds and Clemens had two of the greatest careers in MLB history, but both have been tied to the use of performance enhancing drugs, which has tarnished the legacy of the two.

Bonds’ 762 career home runs are more than any other player in MLB history. His career spanned 21 years as an outfielder and included time with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants. Bonds was first accused of PED use after his record setting 2001 season, when he set the record for most home runs hit in a single season with 73.

Bonds has always been associated with the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative. Through BALCO, Bonds’ trainer was indicted on charges of supplying steroids to athletes. Bonds himself had to testify in front of a grand jury multiple times because of BALCO. Bonds was indicted in 2007 on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice after he denied ever using PEDs to the grand jury. He was found guilty of obstruction of justice.

Clemens had a 23 year career as a pitcher in which he played for four different teams, including the New York Yankees, which he won two World Series rings with. Clemens is one of just 23 MLB pitchers to ever record 300 career wins and one of just four to ever record 4000 career strikeouts.

Clemens was first accused of taking PEDs in the Mitchell Report. Clemens had to go testify in front of Congress because of his appearance in the report, and he was indicted on charges of lying to Congress after he told Congress he never used PED’s. Clemens’ former trainer Brian McNamee claimed to have injected Clemens and teammate Andy Pettitte with PEDs in the early 2000s and this was the main evidence against Clemens, especially after Pettitte admitted his PED use. Clemens, however, was found not guilty in 2012 on the charges of lying to Congress about his PED use.

If I was a voter for the Hall of Fame, Bonds and Clemens would not get my vote. My belief that Bonds and Clemens do not belong in the Hall revolves more around their trials than their actual alleged PED use. Bonds and Clemens made national headlines when they were put on trial, and these headlines were not positive ones.

Bonds’ and Clemens’ trials hurt the MLB. Their alleged PED use became such a big national story and brought much negative publicity to the MLB. Even if they did not use PEDs, they did enough to make many people believe they did and drew negative attention to the sport.

Bonds and Clemens played during a period when it was believed that a good amount of MLB players were taking PEDs, but yet they emerged as the poster boys for PED use. Bonds and Clemens do not belong in the Hall of Fame in my opinion, because even if they did not use PEDs, the belief that they did has done too much to tarnish the sport of baseball.

Will Bonds and Clemens ever make it in the Hall? They both have a long road ahead of them, but it would not surprise me if they did. I think it is quite possible that many voters are just trying to make a statement now by not voting them in immediately, but will vote them in over time. I do not think you can compare Bonds and Clemens to other players who have received 35% of the vote their first time on the ballot. 35% of the vote should keep both on the ballot for years to come, and who knows what could happen over those years.

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Bonds, Clemens, and the Hall of Fame