The Book On Hall-Of-Fame Voting, With A New Chapter By Barry Bonds

There’s a sad story in the making. So far, four chapters of 15 have been written.

It’s the tale of two accused cheaters -Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens- who this year actually made progress towards one day being voted Major League Baseball Hall-of-Famers.

Last year, neither man cracked the 38-percent threshold by sportswriters. Writers are allowed to select only 10 players. This year, both players were on 44 percent of the ballots as the continuing drone of the apologizing and the spineless say, “It’s not a hall of fame without them,” or “It’s not a hall of purity,” or “There’s lots of guys in there who cheated before, like Gaylord Perry and his spitball,” or “This was just a different era of cheating.”

This is their fourth year on the ballot. They have 11 left. If they don’t receive 75 percent of the ballots cast, they’re dropped…and then a veterans’ committee has to consider them.

For now, it’s a story about, “Why can’t we follow the rules? Why can’t we hold those accountable who didn’t follow the rules? Why do so many us insist on rationalizing our own cheating/law-breaking/failing to do the right thing?  Why do those who do the wrong thing keep trying to get other people to join them? -see Bonds and Gary Sheffield.”

Two world-class jerks in Bonds and Clemens haven’t proven to me or 55 percent of the writers (God, that should be higher) that they did not spend a good deal of time, money, and effort cheating the game and their opponents.

Save me the argument Bonds was exonerated by his recent victory in court. Both of them were fingered by people who say they supplied them and by other players. Hell, one of them went so far as to let a friend go to PRISON instead of testifying. PRISON! Yeah, that’s pretty above-board.

But, that doesn’t matter. Some of us forget the details, some of us get tired of arguing for what’s right, and some of us start looking for ways to make it all go away… kind of like Bonds himself.

He made his case at the press conference to introduce him as the new hitting coach for the Miami Marlins, Bonds told TSN, “I don’t really have an opinion about it.” Which he then immediately followed with an opinion, “I know I’m a hall-of-fame player.” Bonds then said he wouldn’t address it, “I don’t really need to get into that. I’ll leave that to you guys to make that determination. That’s not my fraternity.” Then he addressed it, “But, in my fraternity in Major League Baseball? There’s not one player that ever could sit there and say I’m not one and there’s not a coach that ever coached me that says I’m not one.”

Funny, just a month ago, pitcher Roy Halladay tweeted “When you use PEDs you admit your not good enough to compete fairly! Our nations past time should have higher standards! No Clemens no Bonds!”

That sounds like, “Not one” to me.

Continuing to create his own non-reality, reality, Bonds went on, “And until you guys, you know, decide to make that final decision and that final decision will be made on your terms, but in my heart and soul, and,” looking skyward said, “God knows, I’m a hall-of-fame player.”

For Bonds and many of you Giants and Yankees fans, the “ol’ moral compass” is still stuck pointed at “HL.”

On the “ol’ moral compass,” it stands for “hopelessly lost” or, depending on the day, “hippocampus lost.”

Here’s a sad thought. If this trend of seven percent of writers losing the fight for what’s right continues annually into the future, these two Twilight Zone characters of greed, destruction and ego will make the 75-percent threshold in five years.

Bonds and Clemens actually received seven fewer votes each compared to last year. There were 109 fewer sportswriters voting this year.

So, the percentage voting for Bonds and Clemens creeps (nice choice of words) up and players like Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Trevor Hoffman, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina and Larry Walker lost votes this year, just like they lost hits, runs, RBI’s, strikeouts, earned runs, wins, playoff berths,  etc., etc., etc., as players.

They continue to be victimized long after they’ve left the field.

Add Billy Wagner to the list of victims, too. How in the world does a guy with 422 saves finish 18th in voting -sandwiched between Sammy Sosa and Gary Sheffield -players who were caught or admitted using performance-enhancing drugs?

Wagner’s vote total barely qualified him to be on the ballot next year. He deserves better as the guy who’s fifth all-time in saves and who was one of the most feared and dominant left-handed pitchers of his time.

Outfielder Jim Edmonds, who was also a standout for years, failed to get enough votes in his first year on the ballot to even be considered next year.

It may get even worse next year. More players associated with PEDs will be on the ballot. One is Manny Ramirez who often made people scratch their heads and ask, “Why is he such a great guy one day and then a month later he’s a total jerk?” When his career ended with two suspensions for PEDs, those same people said, “Oh.”

So, his .312 average and 555 home runs will join the conversation next year and will make things just a little more difficult I suppose for the sportswriters. Though maybe it will be easier to not vote for any of them if there are so many of them on the ballot. I mean, how do you choose who was the bigger cheater? And if that’s a thought going through your head when you’re voting, how do you not say no to all?

I understand the pressure they’re under. Really I do. I keep hearing people say they feel sorry for the writers who are tasked with deciding if cheats or honest men should get in the hall. But, I don’t feel sorry for them one little bit. If you have the choice of a player who played the game the right way and was great at it….and a player who cheated the game and his opponents, the vote should be pretty easy.

It’s as simple as that. And when someone tells those writers in chapters, 5, 7, 9, 11, and 14, “You have to put them in.” The answer should be simple each time. “No, I don’t. I wouldn’t have put Gaylord Perry in. I’m not putting Barry Bonds in.”

End of story.

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