Should Barry Bonds Be a Hall of Famer?

Three National League MVPs, eight all-star appearances, eight Gold Gloves, 1,751 runs, 1,917 hits, and 411 home runs. Those would have been Barry Bonds credentials if he had retired in 1998 after 13 years in Major League Baseball. He was a Hall of Famer then. He also still had at least eight years of a career ahead of him. So how is there even a debate over whether this baseball legend deserves a spot in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

One word: steroids.

According to "Game of Shadows," a book written by two San Francisco Chronicle reporters, Bonds began using steroids in 1998. And now, as he threatens to break the most vaunted record in a sport that cherishes its numbers and worships its past, the controversy heats up. Will Barry Bonds be a Hall of Famer when he hangs it up?

I will present to you both sides of the argument. We will look at the argument that Bodns is a Hall of Famer in two ways: one, that Bonds was a Hall of Famer before he took steroids. And two, that he did not break any rules during his alleged steroid use as MLB did not have any anti-steroids legislation.

On the other side, I will point to the moral argument against Bonds; that his cheating through performance-enhancing drugs unapologetically broke a rule that transcends any bylaws baseball may have had and the result was that Bonds dominated the game of baseball and now is on pace to break a record held by a man, Hank Aaron, who stood for all that is good in baseball. Let's begin with the reasons Bonds is a Hall of Famer.

Recently, I had a chance to sit and talk with a tenured baseball Hall of Fame voter. I asked him whether he believed Bonds was a Hall of Famer. He said yes. The reason was simple. "Bonds is the best player, by far, of his generation," he said. "He is the best player I have ever covered."

Simply put, there is no one else that reaches the levels Bonds reached during his playing days — before or after his alleged steroid use. The numbers I spoke of earlier, including the 411 home runs and 1,917 hits, clearly prove how effective Bonds was at the plate, and the Gold Gloves show that Bonds was more than just a power hitter — he was also a top-notch fielder.

His numbers are so staggering, that if you took Bonds' average per season over the first 13 seasons of his career and spread them over the last eight years of his career, Bonds would retire at the end of this season with the following numbers: 2,957 runs, 3,240 hits, 699 home runs. There is absolutely no doubt that those numbers are Hall of Fame worthy. (While you may argue that Bonds could not have kept up that pace, keep in mind that the average numbers include his first few years in the majors when Bonds hit 16, 25, 24 and 19 home runs in his first four seasons).

Ignoring his amazing career numbers prior to the alleged steroid use and looking at his impact after 1998 and you still have one major road block: there were no rules in MLB that steroids were illegal, and so technically, Bonds did nothing wrong.

Many people point to Pete Rose as a comparison to Bonds, but Rose broke an explicit rule against gambling on baseball. When Bonds allegedly used steroids, there was nothing set in place that made that illegal. You cannot punish him if he didn't break any rules. Especially when you don't know how many different players in MLB were using steroids, including the pitchers Bonds was facing.

Now let's take a look at the reasons Bonds shouldn't be a Hall of Famer. It begins with the evidence laid out in "Game of Shadows," which clearly point to steroid use as the reason for Bonds resurgence in the last seven years.

There is no doubt that the numbers show that Bonds' statistics went up when trends show numbers usually go down. And the evidence in "Game of Shadows" shows Bonds was most likely using steroids.

In one part of the book, it chronicles how Bonds weight increased 15 pounds, almost all in muscle, and that his teammates began calling Bonds "the Incredible Hulk."

The book implicates that Bonds knowingly took steroids, in other words, knowingly cheated. He used steroids that had been banned throughout the rest of the sporting world, including the drug that got Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson banned. Furthermore, his use of drugs to increase his power left a stain on baseball, embarrassed the game and has led to constant doubting of the achievements he has had in baseball.

As he approaches the most sacred record in baseball, he continues to assault the sanctity of the game. And the sanctity of the game does matter. Proof? When Mark McGwire testified to Congress and refused to speak about the past, many speculated that the once sure-fire Hall of Famer was now in jeopardy of not being enshrined at all. The fears were confirmed when McGwire received just 23.5 percent of the vote in his first year of eligibility, far below the required 75 percent needed for enshrinement.

If that is any indication of how voters feel about those with a steroids shadow lurking over there head, then Bonds may be in for some big trouble.

As the season continues, Bonds will continue to be at the center of perhaps the biggest scandal in all of sports history: the use of steroids in baseball. And while his numbers point to the obvious fact that he is a Hall of Famer, as McGwire's Hall of Fame vote shows, nothing is a sure thing when it comes to the voting. The morals and ethics of the game strongly resonate in the voting.

So in the end, will Barry Bonds be a Hall of Famer? That question will be answered in time. As for whether he deserves it, that's for each individual fan to decide on their own. What do you think?

Comments and Conversation

May 22, 2007


Bonds allegedly started in 1999. That said, I don’t but into that pre post steroid shit. Either he’s a Hofer based on stats or not. Gaylord Perry, an admitted cheater was, why not Bonds?

May 23, 2007


Bonds is a cheater everybody knows it! How can anybody cheer him ? He probably would have made the hall without the juice,just a few less home runs,Now he is just a washed up cheater with a huge head and shrunken nads.

May 24, 2007


Roids or not, many took em. Bonds simply the very best baseball player of the last 20 years. should be automatic first ballot unanimous pick. probably won’t be unanimous because he didn’t kiss reporters butt’s. if he dosn’t make hall, they might as well just close it down as no one is beyond suspect anymore.

May 30, 2007

William Harning:

Pitching, pitching.pitching. More pitchers have been caught using juice than any other pstion player

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