Sports

SIDELINES: If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens aren't Hall of Famers, then who is?

Here are side-by-side photos of Barry Bonds from 1991 (left) and 2004. Although all evidence points to Bonds using performance-enhancing drugs, that shouldn
Here are side-by-side photos of Barry Bonds from 1991 (left) and 2004. Although all evidence points to Bonds using performance-enhancing drugs, that shouldn't keep him out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Question: How could two of the most dominant baseball players in the history of the game not be voted into the Hall of Fame?

Answer: Dork sportswriters who haven’t thrown or hit a ball since riding the bench in Little League hiding behind their self-proclaimed “sanctity of the game” rationale.

If Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens aren’t first-ballot Hall of Famers, then I really have no idea what it takes to get into Cooperstown.

Bonds is the only player in Major League Baseball history to win seven Most Valuable Player awards and Clemens is the only player to win seven Cy Young Awards.

In a sport that is defined by numbers, Bonds and Clemens might have the best numbers of anyone who has ever laced up a pair of spikes.

Obviously, there are plenty of baseball writers who make up the Hall of Fame electorate that aren’t going to vote for Bond and Clemens because they are so-called “cheaters.”

I’m going to let you in on something — there’s a reason that guys write about sports and don’t play them. A very large bulk of baseball reporters never even saw the junior varsity field in high school and spent more time at the free press box buffet than on an elliptical machine.

Look at Peter Gammons and Bob Costas, two of the most prolific and pompous baseball writers. According to their Wikipedia pages, neither even played baseball in high school.

And these are the types of guys that decide whether or not somebody gets into the illustrious Baseball Hall of Fame. This is their chance to hop on their high horses and get back at the “entitled” athletes that they wished they were.

To be named a Hall of Fame, a player must receive 75 percent of the vote from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Votes will be cast throughout December, and results will be released Jan. 9.

“I’m not going to vote for anybody who has been tainted or associated with steroids,” MLB.com’s Hal Bodley, the former baseball columnist for USA Today, told ESPN. “I’m just not going to do it. I might change down the road, but I just love the game too much. I have too much passion for the game and for what these people did to it.”

Bodley and the rest of his baseball writer brethren have inducted plenty of cheaters into the Hall of Fame before and both Bonds and Clemens were never punished for failing a drug test.

Did they take performance-enhancing drugs? Almost positively, yes. Were they the only ones doing it? Heck no.

Can we definitively say that recent inductees like Barry Larkin, Roberto Alomar, Andre Dawson and Rickey Henderson never took PED’s? They were just better at baseball then everybody else during their careers. So, in turn, the best baseball players to ever play the game belong in the Hall of Fame.

Former Seattle PI reporter and current ESPN.com columnist Jim Caple is one of the lone sportswriters who actually shares my opinion.

“I will definitely vote for Bonds and Clemens,” Caple said. “Steroid use has nothing to do with my vote. Steroids were not banned during the majority of their careers when they achieved the vast majority of their accomplishments. All we can go by is what they did on the field. If Gaylord Perry is in the Hall for violating a rule that was in place 40 years before his career began, how can you justify withholding a vote from someone for a rule that wasn’t in effect?”

Unlike Costas or Gammons, I have a little experience playing the sport of baseball. I was good enough to earn a scholarship to play at Gonzaga University, where I played with and against several Major Leaguers.

So, I have a little different perspective on the whole performance-enhancing drug debate.

To be completely honest, there have been numerous times where I have played the “what if” game. What if somebody had offered me a “wonder pill” that would turn me from an average Division-I outfielder into a Major Leaguer? I really don’t know what my answer would have been as a 20-year-old looking to make a name for myself.

I’m thankful that I never had to make that decision, because that “wonder pill” was never offered to me.

But I’m 100 percent positive that a majority of guys in professional baseball in the late-1990s were offered, and did partake, in performance-enhancing drugs.

That was just the culture back then. Like I said before, steroids weren’t a banned substance at that time and there is no denying that those types of drugs helped out in unbelievable fashion.

And that is why it is so hard for me to stomach a lot of the baseball writers singling out Bonds and Clemens when plenty of other players were doing the exact same thing.

I think a big reason why those two guys are getting a brunt of the ire from the writers and the general public is because they were always surly with the media and because they were, by most accounts, not very nice human beings.

My college roommate was drafted by the San Francisco Giants and spent a spring training with the big league club in the late 90s. He tells the story of sitting down on the team bus moments before Bonds got on.

Wearing a full-length fur coat, Bonds got on the bus, looked right at my buddy and, with a few F-bombs mixed in, told him that he was in his seat and to get to the back of the bus.

You can’t get more entitled than that. But that’s just the way the top alpha-males in professional sports act. It’s the same way guys like Babe Ruth and Michael Jordan acted.

Awful human beings? Obviously. But that shouldn’t keep them out of the Hall of Fame. Bonds, along with Clemens, are two of the best baseball players to ever lace up a pair of spikes.

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