Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
So does Gary Sheffield.
The MLBbros were both all-time sluggers.
Both had a major impact in the game during their long careers in baseball.
Bonds won seven MVPs and is MLB’s all-time home run king with 762 career bombs. Sheffield was a nine-time All-Star and slugged 509 career homers and 1,676 RBI.
Both got my 2021 Hall of Fame vote.
So did ace Roger Clemens and slugger Sammy Sosa. Those are the four votes I cast on my ballot.
Under normal circumstances, all four would be shoo-ins. But all four stars are marred by the steroid controversy.
Hence, my fellow Baseball Writers Association of America voters have blocked their entrance to Cooperstown, New York.
This is not the first time deserving MLBbros have been controversially kept out of the Hall of Fame.
For Bonds, his situation has reached dire proportions. He’s on the ballot for the final time.
This is Bonds’ 10th and final try. There’s a bright side for Bonds.
Unlike some of the other star players that have Hall-worthy credentials, but didn’t muster up enough support to come close to getting in, Bonds has continued to gain support, not lose it.
In fact, Bonds could have been done in by the voters long ago, eliminated from the ballot long before their 10 years were up.
2017: 53.8 percent
2018: 56.4 percent
2019: 59.1 percent
2020: 60.7 percent
Sheffield has seen his numbers go up with support, too.
In his first five tries on the ballot, he got between 11 and 14 percent.
In 2020, Sheff got 30.5 percent. And last year, it blew up to 40.6 percent.
Sheffield has three more years of eligibility left to get to the 75 percent needed to make it to the Hall.
The writers’ history of rallying to vote players in on their last try is well documented.
Enter Larry Walker in the 2020 Class. In his 10th and final try, Walker got 76.6 percent of the vote, a 22- percent jump from 2019. It was the biggest increase by any player in his last year of eligibility in 65 years.
Hence, I can see this happening for Bonds.
You can’t tell the story of baseball without him. Plus, all his numbers and awards count. They haven’t been stripped of anything.
And the truth remains, Bonds never tested positive for PEDs nor was he suspended by the game for being caught. His named was linked in the 2004 BALCO scandal.
Sheffield was mentioned in the Mitchell Report and implicated in the BALCO scandal with respect to the use of performance- enhancing drugs.
That’s why newcomers to the ballot – Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz – will be hurt. Easily they have the numbers, but A-Rod was suspended by the game for PED use and Big Papi reportedly tested positive for the stuff.
Hard to blame writers in the case where players were clearly busted.
And if all the players in the Steroid Era were tested and just Bonds and Sheffield came back dirty, there would be a real reason to exclude the slugger from the Hall.
But the water is muddy. With that being the case, the numbers should be taken at face value.
Plus, and more importantly, there are other players either linked to PEDs or rumored to have used the stuff who were voted in by the same writers keeping Bonds and Sheff out.
Enter Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell.
I’ve voted for Bonds all 10 years he’s been on the ballot. Same goes for Sheff in his first eight tries.
Both belong in the Hall.
Here is my ballot for this coming Hall of Fame Class:
1. Bonds – All-time HR king. Period.
2. Clemens – Seven Cy Young Awards, most ever.
3. Sammy Sosa – Over 600 homers. Hall-worthy.
4. Gary Sheffield – Over 500 homers. Hall-worthy.