Barry Bonds does not belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. His actual induction may come down to his perjury trial. However, voters should look beyond Bonds’ inflated statistics and at his oversized head. He cheated the game, the fans, and himself. The Hall of Fame has a character clause which Bonds clearly violated on and off the field providing voters with the perfect rationale to not vote for him.
On March 23, 2011, Barry Bonds’ lawyer admitted the All Star took steroids. He cloaked the admission with the unbelievable argument that Bonds did not know what he was ingesting. The admission proves that Barry Bonds cheated. Bonds’ actions made a mockery of the on-the-field product and competitive nature of the sport.
Athletic production typically declines as players age. In Bonds’ case, his production increased and provided an unfair competitive advantage. From age 35 to 42, Bonds hit 49, 73, 46, 45, 45, 5, 26, and 28 home runs. His on base percentage and OPS reached ridiculous peaks. In many respects, steroid usage undercut fair competition on the field in the same way as the 1919 White Sox. That season, eight Sox players accepted money to throw World Series games. Steroid usage is a comparable fraud.
As a result of the fraud perpetuated by Bonds, voters have a choice to make. The Hall of Fame’s character clause allows voters to withhold support for certain players. According to Sports Illustrated‘s Joe Posnanski, the clause reads:
“Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contribution to the team(s) on which the player played.”
Bonds’ record is questionable because of his drug usage. His integrity, sportsmanship, and character clearly do not reach the Hall of Fame standard. What about other Hall of Fame members with spotty character? Voters today can only judge the players on the ballot before them and not the players already enshrined. Perhaps they should set a higher standard.
Some voters argue Bonds deserved election to the Hall of Fame before he began using performance-enhancing drugs. They use this argument to justify their vote. However, it is a gutless position for a voter to take. It simply provides cover for individuals that want to avoid the steroid issue rather than formally address it. It’s the coward’s way out.
No known steroid abuser should be voted into Cooperstown. Mark McGwire has lost support for his PED usage and may never be enshrined. On his fifth Hall of Fame ballot, McGwire’s support dropped from around 24% to 19.8%. Rafael Palmeiro garnered just 11% of the vote after wagging his finger at Congress for daring to implicate him in the steroid scandal and then testing positive. Bonds should suffer the same fate as his compatriots.
Bonds’ legacy may come down to his perjury trial. A conviction might provide enough cover for voters to do what is right. The man does not belong in the Hall of Fame. His statistics are fraudulent and his legacy tarnished. The Hall of Fame’s character clause was clearly established to prevent individuals like Barry Bonds and other cheaters from being inducted.