Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Cheaters Never Prosper: Why Barry Bonds Does Not Belong in the Hall of Fame

By now we all know about baseball's "easy way out" of the steroid mess - possible perjury charges for Barry Bonds. However, regardless of what becomes of those charges, Barry Bonds simply does not belong in the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bonds is a great player who almost certainly would have made the Hall of Fame without steroids. He was debatably the best player before BALCO and before he met Greg Anderson.

Ironically, while Bonds' steroid use has clearly increased his homerun power, it may have made him a less complete player. Prior to his steroid-induced explosion in size, Bonds was a repeat Gold Glove outfielder. He was both powerful and fast. From 1986-1998, he stole 463 bases (for an average of 38.6 per season) while still averaging 36.4 home runs per year with 8 Gold Glove Awards (for the best fielder in the league at his position) over that time. Inarguably still in his prime until at least the year 2003, Bonds stole only 55 bases from 1999-2003 (for an average of 11 and change per season) with zero Gold Glove Awards.

Bonds has put up Hall of Fame numbers, no doubt. However, his use of the drug and refusal to accept responsibility now overshadow his accomplishments.

Other steroid users in Major League Baseball who were likely to make the HOF (Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Sammy Sosa) now will probably not make it. Other proven users (Gary Sheffield, Ken Caminitti, Jose Canseco, Yorvit Torrealba, etc) simply have not posted HOF stats. Only Jason Giambi and Ivan Rodriguez have even a borderline chance.

In Giambi's case, he has continued to post fairly good numbers - though not as good as when he on the juice. Though I concede the argument can be made that due to the muscle he built up while on steroids, it would likely still give him an advantage even after discontinuing the use of steroids. What makes Giambi different from the others is he has admitted his wrongdoing and asked for forgiveness. In the end, it does not appear as though Giambi will have HOF type numbers.

Rodriguez's case is interesting. The only evidence that he's done steroids come from accusations made by Canseco. When Canseco's book first came out, many people dismissed his claims about Rodriguez and Rafael Palmeiro. That was, until Palmeiro tested positive. Suddenly the claim had credibility. The evidence is circumstantial at best, but I can't help but believe Rodriguez has used steroids. In my view, he too does not belong in the HOF.

The issue of whether or not Barry Bonds used steroids is no longer up for debate. Bonds himself has admitted using them. He simply claims he "did not know they were steroids."

Barry Bonds biggest problem comes from Barry Bonds. To this day, Bonds refuses to admit any wrongdoing. In fact, he prefers to play the victim role.

It's been documented that a major motivation for Bonds' steroid use was jealousy over the attention fellow steroid users, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were getting. According to the book Game of Shadows,
A jealous Bonds decided to use performance-enhancing substances after watching McGwire gain national acclaim for eclipsing Roger Maris' storied single-season record
Cheating to keep pace with other cheaters does not excuse it. If Bonds had played fair, despite the cheating by other premier players, I believe the baseball public would have supported his induction into the Hall of Fame even if his numbers were comparatively mediocre.

What's more, by refusing to accept any responsibility despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, Bonds has compounded his actions. Bonds has not only cheated the game, but he has effectively slapped his teammates, opponents, fans, and even baseball history in the face.

Baseball is not as action-packed as many other sports. The records are a large part of what makes Major League Baseball great.

The beauty of baseball lies in its tradition. There is no place in the Hall of Fame for the player who has had the biggest part in destroying it.

Of course, this opinion piece would not be fit for Moderately Thinking without invoking some discussion around it.

Is it fair to believe Bonds is guilty? What would you have done in his place? What action should Major League Baseball take (or have taken)? Should Bonds be denied a spot in the Hall of Fame?

Please feel free to offer your ideas on those questions or any other thoughts you'd like to share.


Blogger Moderately Thinking said...

Ok, I probably should have done a better job backing up the part about his refusal to accept responsibility, but hey, you get what you don't pay for.

August 23, 2006 6:57 PM  
Anonymous scott_api said...

No, he doesn't belong in the hall.

August 23, 2006 9:58 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

You cheat, you lose. That should be MLB's response. They kicked Pete Rose out for betting on the game. What's more, he bet on his own team - he wasn't trying to throw the game. Rose's betting did not affect the outcome of the games in which he played. Still, I support MLB's choice to ban him from the Hall of Fame. With the steroid users, whose steriod use clearly did affect the game's outcome, MLB refuses to kick them out. This is outrageous! Either way MLB decides, they must stay consistent and should keep them all out.

Finally, if Bonds and the other cheaters do get admitted to the HOF, they should be put in a room with a giant asterisk as its center sculpture.

August 24, 2006 11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh good the moderate status quo thinker wants to talk about baseball as the neocons plan an invasion of Iraq. I guess we will just have to wait for the DRAFT to get your attention. geez!

August 26, 2006 1:23 AM  

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