When it was reported earlier this year that the Yankees would be retiring Andy Pettitte’s number, I cringed. Not at the fact that his number will be retired – he deserves it. Rather, the hypocrisy of it all struck me. Are we punishing those who used performance enhancing drugs or aren’t we? Are those player’s records and stats forever tarnished, or can that stance be wiped away by simply admitting you took PEDs, as Pettitte did?
Realize, I’m not writing this to drag the Yankees through the mud. I have bigger fish to fry; namely the Hall of Fame.
Baseball’s Hall of Fame is losing credibility in my eyes, and fast. I find myself disappointed every year that Barry Bonds does not get in. And why doesn’t he? Because those who vote want to sit on some moral high horse and show their discontent by not voting for him, even though Major League Baseball has put no asterisk next to his numbers?
Bobby Cox was arrested in 1995 for punching his wife, and the voters had no problem voting him in. The Hall is not some “sacred” grounds for the patron saints of baseball. Merit is what gets you in, and Barry Bonds’ resume is remarkable.
If we go by the reports that Bonds started using PEDs in 1998, after Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both broke Roger Maris’ single-season home run record, we must look at Bonds’ career in two parts, pre and post 1998.
Bonds was a Hall of Fame player before 1998, and these numbers show just that:
- 411 home runs (40+ three times)
- 403 doubles
- 1216 RBIs (100+ eight times)
- 445 stolen bases (28+ in all but one year) 1,917 hits
- Led MLB in on base percentage four times, slugging percentage three times, and OPS five times.
- 8-time all-star, 2 Gold Gloves, and 2 NL MVPs.
In the years after 1998, Barry Bonds added to that already incredible resume and cemented his place in history. Post 1998:
- 45+ home runs five times
- 2 batting titles
- Led MLB in walks seven times, on base percentage six times, and OPS four times.
He also broke Mark McGwire’s single season home run record in that span, as well as passing Hank Aaron’s all time record.
Here’s another stat that just reinforces his worthiness for a plaque: Bonds ranks #3 ALL TIME in OPS+, trailing only Babe Ruth and Ted Williams. Those guys were pretty good.
Steroids did not make Barry Bonds what he is. If steroids have that power, why didn’t everyone else of the “Steroid Era” put up these types of numbers? I promise you, if I were on steroids, I couldn’t hit a baseball out of a Major League stadium (I would be the Ben Revere of steroid users).
If we are honest, what players put in their bodies before 2004 (when the MLB started testing for PEDs) doesn’t matter. It wasn’t against the rules. Against moral code? Maybe. A grey area? Most certainly. However, I cannot pretend to know what it is like being a Major League player and doing whatever it takes to be the best player I can be, and I won’t discount what these players did.
It’s well past time to put Barry Bonds, and his impressively large noggin, where he belongs; alongside all the other great players in MLB history. It’s time to give Barry Bonds the plaque he deserves.