The sanctimonious and historic arrogance by the “protectors” of baseball continue to do a disservice to the game.
Once again, the voters for the Hall of Fame – whose name should be officially changed to the Museum of Baseball – took a third strike which left Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on the outside looking in for their 10th and final year of eligibility. Victims of a narrative orchestrated by the writers who supposedly protect the game.
I thought for sure the voters would make Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens sweat it out until their last year of eligibility and then finally put them in. One is the greatest player of all-time and the other is one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. They belong in Cooperstown.
Baseball’s temple to it’s great players now has to change its name. It should no longer be viewed as a Hall of Fame when David Ortiz is the only player to be voted in his first year of eligibility.
When you consider Derek Jeter wasn’t a unanimous selection in his first year of eligibility and Ortiz is the only “official” member of this year’s class (becoming the first such person to get in at under 80 percent) this temple has been jaundiced forever.
With all due respect to “Big Papi”, he was just a one tool player who could really hit. His defense in Minnesota with the Twins was so bad they shipped him to Boston and the legend was born by allowing him to swing the bat.
However, one could make a compelling argument that’s all he could do. His postseason exploits were epic and his impact was legendary.
Ortiz’s gregarious personality, however, and his TV career have to be seen now as things that helped his cause. He has no problem kissing the babies. His “This is our fuck#%g city” speech following the terrorist attacks at the Boston Marathon are the stuff of legends.
Meanwhile, Bonds was a transcendent talent whose skills – even before he started using performance enhancers – made him a player and a star for the ages. In the early days of his career Bonds was a 30-homer 30-steal offensive weapon who played gold glove defense.
Ortiz was so bad defensively that his career spiked when he was forced to put the glove away to earn his place in baseball’s immortality.
Unfortunately this is where the residue of former racist commissioners such as Kennesaw Mountain Landis – a Hall of Famer – and the infrastructure of America’s national pastime still rule. Many of the reporters who chose to omit Bonds and Clemens from their ballots because of their moral standards are people who’ve lost touch with objectivity.
During the 1990’s as a young Black reporter in Atlanta covering the Braves during the glory years, the jaundiced side eyes and condescension of many reporters who are still casting ballots were the norm rather than an exception.
That explains the rationale for keeping the best player of his generation out of Cooperstown — at least until now. Bonds was a Black player with a swag and dominance. He was an antagonizing presence to many reporters who weren’t objective when telling the full narrative of his career.
Any so-called “caretaker” of the game, who was white and interacted with Bonds would often refer to him as a “jerk”.
I personally heard that word thrown around consistently in 1991 and 1992 by mostly white reports during the National League Championship Series when Braves manager Bobby Cox employed the walk a slugger philosophy for the Pirates outfielder at that time. It took the bat out of Bonds’ hands and left him frustrated and surly and a challenge to deal with.
Performance enhancers didn’t make Bonds Hall of Fame worthy. He would’ve been first ballot without them. Instead of being admonished, Bonds should be revered.
What the “museum” caretakers need to recognize is that most players who were taking steroids, human growth hormones, etc. didn’t cheat the game; they saved it after the lockout which canceled the 1994 World Series and put more fans in the stands once it ended.
If you were a fan of that era and spent $150-200 for a night out at the ballpark and a player hit three home runs to create a lifetime moment for you and your family, were you really cheated?
On Tuesday, January 25th, Rob Parker will be joining some of the best baseball minds in the game during MLB Network’s exclusive coverage of the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame four-hour announcement show.
Rob, who started covering baseball for the Daily News in 1986, is also a Hall of Fame voter. The announcement show beings at 4pm ET and leads into the live election results at 6 PM ET and the panel reactions.
The results of the 2022 National Baseball Hall of Fame election will be announced exclusively on MLB Network on Tuesday, January 25 live at 6pm. ET as part of a four-hour announcement show beginning at 4pm ET.
The program will feature National Baseball Hall of Fame President Josh Rawitch revealing the results live from the Hall of Fame Plaque Gallery in Cooperstown, as voted by the Baseball Writer’s Association.
Anchored by Greg Amsinger, Brian Kenny and Lauren Shehadi, MLB Network’s extensive Hall of Fame election coverage will include analysis from Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds and others.
Cleveland Guardians manager Terry “Tito” Francona, esteemed baseball reporter Tim Kurkjian and our very own legend, MLBbro.com founder, MLB journalist and Hall of Fame voter Rob Parker will also offer experienced analysis on the selection results and more.
“It’s definitely an honor and privilege to share the TV set with some of the best people who have ever covered MLB the last 30 plus years,” said Parker, who started covering MLB in 1986 for the Daily News in New York. “It’s a historic night, too. We will be live to see his Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens – two of the greatest to play the game – get in the Hall via the writers vote on their 10th and final try. That will be grand theater for sure.”
The announcement show will examine a polarizing and controversial topic as Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, arguably the two best to ever do it at their respective positions, are in their 10th and final year on the ballot.
Rob has been adamant about his belief that the PED allegations of the late 1990s and early 2000s should not keep these two titans of the game out of Cooperstown.
In fact, Rob and Brian Kenny had a heated debate about the Hall of Fame worthiness of these players on a previous episode of MLB Network. Bringing these two guys together for an announcement special is sure to create fireworks, evoke emotions and keep the viewers locked in at the edge of their seats.
Will Bonds and Clemens finally make it? The only baseball question more significant than that is, when will the lockout end?
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.
(Graphic via David Grubb)
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.