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Should We Put Barry Bonds In The Hall of Fame?
Five Thirty Eight, the political/cultural website had an interesting discussion about baseball’s records and as their headline states, all of baseball record needs an asterisk. While many of us wonder how do we rate players during the recent steroids era but as the writers on Five Thirty Eight noted, what about the past? Baseball have gone through many changes for example at the beginning of the 20th century, it was called “dead ball” era and for many hitters, the dead ball hindered the ability of hitters to hit the ball out of the park and changed the nature of game by emphasizing singles and stolen bases. When the ball was “juiced up” home runs increase and so did attendance. The 1920’s saw Babe Ruth knocking the ball out of the park at rates unheard of before the ball was juiced, so do we put an asterisk on Babe Ruth’s records since Major League Baseball purposely juiced the ball to increase offense outburst?
Then there was the segregation era in which black athletes were denied a shot at playing in the Major league. Many white players never had to face some of the best pitchers of their era because of the color divide. Babe Ruth never faced Satchel Paige in a major league game (Even though I suspect that he did during the barnstorming that occurred between baseball seasons as black and white players played exhibition games against each other. Many researchers believe the Negro league exhibition teams won three out of five games against white major leagues barnstorm teams.) So should we put an asterisk on baseball records in the pre-integration era?
During the dead ball era, baseball pitchers were allowed to throw spitters and allowed to put foreign substance thus giving pitchers an unfair advantages and in 1968, the pitcher mound was reduced five inches to aid hitters.
There is no doubt that the steroids era skewed statistics since when baseball started to enforce non-steroid policies from the early part of the twenty first century; no players has challenged Bond’s record much less come close to sixty homers. It is hard to judge exactly how much steroids padded stats but as one Hall of Fame baseball player who played in that era claimed, at least 60 percent of baseball players were pharmacology juiced. So much of Major League was juiced in the 1990’s.
So how do we judge stats? For baseball, there were always some easy objective that got you in the Hall of Fame, including 500 homers, 300 wins and 3000 hits but in the 1990’s, many players obtained those data with the aid of steroids.
The question is how do we judge modern day players? Many players are being denied simply because they did do steroids but there are players who were Hall of Fame players no matter whether they were guilty of using PED’S. Barry Bonds was on his way to an Hall of Fame career before he started using steroids and there is no doubt that he would have been a Hall of Fame player sans steroids and a case can be made that Alex Rodriguez would have obtained Hall of Fame numbers without steroids as we witnessing this year. Alex Rodrigues has lasted 23 homers as we approached the month of August at the age of 40 and despite being out of baseball for a year. (He is the only player who has hit a homer as a teenager and at the age of 40.)
Every sport has been affected by Performance enhancing drugs and we are simply living on faith that the league policies are keeping PED out of the various sports, but yet we have seen players suspended because they still try to cheat.
Maybe it is time for baseball Hall of Fame voters to revise their standards and simply compare these players to their contemporaries; tried to estimate how their record would be without steroids. Barry Bonds should be in, simply because despite the steroids inflated data in the second half of his career; he certainly had the statistic to be there. It should be added that baseball chose to turn a blind eye to the prevalent use of steroids during the 1990’s and early 2000’s since baseball were setting attendance records and baseball players were performing feats not seen before or since. It is not easy to vote for someone who cheated but then Gaylord Perry is in the Hall of Fame despite his reputation of occasionally putting foreign substances on baseballs. So if Perry is in, why not Bonds?