BONDS DREAMS ON AS SUPPORT SLIPS SLIDING AWAY
By Murray Chass
Hear ye! hear ye! hear ye!
Who makes such a proclamation?
In a typically arrogant and self-serving interview with an MLB.com reporter who has long been a Bonds sycophant, Bonds said:
“I love Major League Baseball. I always have and I loved playing the game. I don’t have any doubts that I’ll get there in time. I’m bothered about it, but I don’t sit here going, ‘I’m not going to make it.’ I don’t see how it stays the way it’s going. In my mind, in my head, I’m a lot more positive about it than I am negative. I think eventually they’ll do the right thing.”
And he said:
“I deserve to be there. Clemens deserves to be there. The guys that are supposed to be there are supposed to be there. Period. I don’t even know how to say it. We are Hall of Famers. Why are we having these conversations about it? Why are we talking about a baseball era that has come and gone?
“Era, era, era. Do the best players in the game deserve to be in the Hall of Fame? Yes. Everything that everyone has accomplished in baseball is in that book. Correct? So if that’s correct, then we need to be in there. End of story.”
Bonds referred to the baseball record book, not the excellent 2006 book “Game of Shadows” that tells you all you need to know about Bonds and performance-enhancing drugs.
But Bonds indeed is in the record book – for having hit the most home runs in a single season (73) and for having hit the most home runs in a career (762). He is there, on page 19 of The Elias Book of Baseball Records, because Major League Baseball has not amended his achievements.
Seymour Siwoff, decades-long head of Elias Sports Bureau, explained why Bonds is there.
“He wasn’t accused of anything,” Siwoff said in a telephone interview Saturday, then referring specifically to the 73 home runs Bonds hit in 2001 added, “When he did it, he wasn’t guilty of anything we knew of so he was put in. It was the record. I couldn’t dispute it.”
In retrospect, Siwoff said, “We know it’s a fraud. He never hit more than 49 home runs and he suddenly hits 73.”
As for Bonds’ linking the record book and the Hall of Fame, Siwoff said, “The book has no bearing on the Hall of Fame.”
Bonds is not in the Hall of Fame because in the two years he has been on the ballot, the voters – members of the Baseball Writers Association –
Voting individually but collectively coming to the same conclusion, they have done that because they believe Bonds achieved his record numbers with the aid of performance-enhancing drugs.
They have also come to many other conclusions, like the idea that Jim Rice was a HOFer and Alan Trammell was not. So. Yeah.
Like Bonds, Sosa eluded detection, but is any more circumstantial evidence needed? Convicts have been executed on less.
In an interview a couple of years before the recent one, the same reporter, Barry Bloom, quoted Bonds as saying about the Hall of Fame:
“You have to vote on baseball the way baseball needs to be voted on. If you vote on your assumptions or what you believe or what you think might have been going on there, that’s your problem. You’re at fault. It has nothing to do with what your opinion is. Period.
“If that’s the case, you better go way, way back and start thinking about your opinions. If that’s how you feel life should be run, I would say then you run your Hall of Fame the way you want to run your Hall of Fame. That’s what I think. That’s my personal opinion. If you want to do the Hall of Fame the way the Hall of Fame is supposed to be done, then you make the right decision on that. If you don’t, that’s on you. To stamp something on your assumptions, it doesn’t work for me.”
Bonds, I believe, uttered that mouthful before the voters judged him for the first time.
The history of Hall of Fame voting shows that when players of star status appear for the first time, others on the ballot suffer. There’s no sensible logic to that because with 10 spots on the ballot, voters can vote for the super first-timers and still vote for others.
However, the ballot presence of Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine did not affect Bonds. If any of the writers wanted to ignore the PED allegations and put an X next to his name, they would have done it.
It is always possible that something could happen that would catapult Bonds into the Hall of Fame, but he shouldn’t hold his breath. The voters generally have demonstrated their unwillingness to elect tainted players, and a huge bloc of them would have to change their stance.
The Hall’s board of directors has made Bonds’ task more difficult with a change in rules of eligibility that also applies to other candidates. Players will no longer be eligible for 15 years; the board has cut that period to 10 years.
That change leaves Bonds with 8 years of eligibility instead of 13, a significantly shorter period in which lightning could strike on Bonds’ behalf.
The Hall’s board also knows that players already in the Hall object to being joined by players whose credentials includes PEDs.
This far into the candidacy of PED players the Hall of Famers need have no fear of bad guys being elected. The decline in Bonds’ percentage of votes fits the pattern of voting for the most seriously challenged PED candidates. Their percentages have continued to drop, moving farther away from the 75 percent needed.
Three other players on the ballot have resumes that are foggier than these five.
I voted for Bagwell on his first appearance on the ballot, when he received 41.7 percent of the votes. After several people told me that he had been heavily involved in steroids,
Biggio will almost certainly be elected this time. He was only two votes short of election in the last election and should clear the threshold, even though a reporter friend told me that a dozen or more players told him that Biggio used steroids.
If it’s not clear by now, I don’t vote for steroids-tainted players.
That brings me to Piazza. Piazza has been on the ballot for two years and avoided the falloff problem in his second year.
His many fans have excoriated me for my view, but they are blind to what I believe is strong evidence of his use. When he played for the New York Mets, he didn’t hide his acne-covered back.
When I first wrote about Piazza’s possible use several years ago, his fans ridiculed me. They completely ignored a critical aspect of what I wrote. Piazza’s back cleared up completely when baseball began testing for steroids and remained clear to his retirement. It was not a stretch to conclude that Piazza had stopped using steroids to avoid being caught by a urine test.
Also, this next part is fun because it's the end of the article. This is it. Just a non-conclusory sentence, a chart, and blogger Murray Chass is done. Time to go yell at the kids who are playing near his lawn, and then settle down with a nice warm glass of tomato juice.
Percentage of votes in Hall of Fame elections for players who have been linked to steroids use, some more specifically than others: