Barry Bonds might represent the biggest dilemma of all when it comes to Hall of Fame voting and the steroid era. That is no secret; the man broke every home run record we know of and was the greatest hitter many of us will ever see. Unfortunately that was all obscured by the fact that he was believed by many to use steroids (with a pretty overwhelming case against him as well).
What should voters do with Bonds? That remains a tough question and one that gained little in terms of clarity after Bonds’ second year on the ballot. He received a smaller percentage of the vote, but as Andrew Baggarly of CSN Bay Area notes, it wasn’t by much:
Bonds was listed on 198 of the 571 ballots submitted by qualified members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. That’s down by eight from the 206 votes he received last year (out of 569), his first on the ballot.”
Some publicly expressed their support for Bonds’ case, including Bob Nightengale of USA Today:
I believe the drug use rampant in baseball during the steroid era was much greater than anyone can imagine. I saw the deformity of the bodies. The surreal power. The dramatic weight losses and weight gains. The mood swings.
And, yes, the drug secrets that not only their some of their closest friends confidentially revealed, but also their agents, associates and peers.
This is why I take the lonely stance, judging players simply on their performance on the field and their impact on the game.
I vote for the steroid players.”
Others, including Grant Bisbee of the McCovey Chronicles and our own Matt Cowlishaw on Around the Foghorn, have made reasonable arguments that Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. Either way, this issue likely will not be resolved in the any of the next few years of voting.