Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are undoubtedly as good as ball players as any others enshrined in Cooperstown. Bonds, the seven-time MVP, and Clemens, the seven-time Cy Young award winner, still suffering from the stain of steroid reputations, proven or not, were, as you know by now, left of this year’s list of Hall of Fame inductees.
Bonds and Clemens have both appeared on ballots for the sixth year, leaving them just four tries remaining to be enshrined. However, the pace at which the duo had moved in votes over the years was curbed extremely in this year’s round of voting.
Clemens tallied 57.3 percent of the vote while Bonds collected 56.4 percent, both figures are voting-highs for the duo. But these figures are only slight increases from the 54.1 percent Clemens received last year, and the 53.8 percent Bonds received — powered by nine percent surges, this was the first year the duo broke the 50 percent threshold in voting.
Clemens and Bonds debuted to Hall of Fame voters back in 2013, collecting just 37.6 percent and 36.2 percent of the vote. In 2016, they broke the 40 percent threshold for the first time, and as stated in the aforementioned, cracked 50 percent in 2017. The growth is subtle, but far off from a pace that sees induction within the next four ballots.
That isn’t to say Clemens and Bonds don’t have a contingency of support within the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters — of the 248 voters who elected to publicly share their ballots, Clemens and Bonds each scored 63.9 percent of the vote.
Perhaps the letter penned by Hall of Famer Joe Morgan was still fresh in the mind’s of the voters this year. Morgan, who serves as the Hall’s vice chairman and as a member of its board of directors, said the words in his letter didn’t speak for other Hall of Famers, but rather represented the concerns of many regarding the eroding standards for admission.
“The more we Hall of Famers talk about this — and we talk about it a lot — we realize we can no longer sit silent,” Morgan wrote. “Many of us have come to think that silence will be considered complicity. Or that fans might think we are ok if the standards of election to the Hall of Fame are relaxed, at least relaxed enough for steroid users to enter and become members of the most sacred place in Baseball. We don’t want fans ever to think that.
“We hope the day never comes when known steroid users are voted into the Hall of Fame. They cheated. Steroid users don’t belong here.
“Players who failed drug tests, admitted using steroids, or were identified as users in Major League Baseball’s investigation into steroid abuse, known as the Mitchell Report, should not get in. Those are the three criteria that many of the players and I think are right.”
It’s one thing for Clemens to face a discord amongst a sect of the baseball writers, but one from inside the ranks of baseball’s greats could prove far more damaging.