We know that there are a lot of people who like – or shall we say love – to hate Barry Bonds, and a lot of times they are justified in their thinking. But should that keep him out of the Hall of Fame? What are the credentials for acceptance into Cooperstown, anyway? Is it all about performance? What about character? What about if Bonds’ used steroids and/or performance enhancing drugs? Should that discount him? Can that even be actually proven, regardless of what people believe? Well, whether he should be in the Hall is certainly up for debate, but here are 11 reasons that work in his favor, proving he should be inducted.
11. PED Use Was Never Proven
It was never proven that he used any type of steroids or performance enhancing drug, nor did he admit to it. Now this isn’t to say he didn’t do it, or that we disbelieve that he did. All we are saying it that it has never been proven. And as far as we know, it is ‘innocent until proven guilty’, not the other way around. You convict someone based on evidence, not suspicion. The suspicion may very well be justified, but that is not enough for a conviction. You have to prove it, and as of right now, it has not been proven.
10. Hall Of Fame Has Other Juicers in It
Even if Bonds did juice, there have been rumors of players from the 1930’s -1960’s taking all sorts of animal hormones – the horse comes to mind – and other substances to help with injuries and improve performance. While this may be just speculation, since we don’t know for sure, if they are allowed entrance into Cooperstown, why shouldn’t Bonds? And if speculation keeps Bonds out, should it not keep these other Hall Of Famers out as well? The blade has to cut both ways.
9. His Performance, Not Character
Did steroids/PED’s improve his performance? That’s a question that may never be able to be answered conclusively, but before the cloud of suspicion rose over Bonds’ head, we should look at his performance – which we will do later on this list – and not his character. Baseball as had its share of players who are, let’s just say “lacking” in the character department, and is not held against them, nor should it be. While Bonds may not have been very friendly to media, fans, and even teammates, he should be judged by what he did on the field, not off of it. Plenty of other jerks are already in the Hall.
8. He Didn’t Cheat By Definition
If he did juice, he technically still didn’t cheat, and we can blame our good friend Bud Selig, MLB Commissioner at the time, for this. Whether it is Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, or whoever else during the 1990’s steroids/PED’s craze, there was no rule in MLB saying steroids were illegal. It wasn’t imposed until a few years later, when we were well into the 2000’s. So how can a rule be broken if that rule was actually never in place? McGwire even admitted to taking a substance that wasn’t against the rules at the time, but is currently on the list of banned drugs. At that time PED’s were illegal in other sports but not yet outlawed in baseball. Bud Selig and MLB needs shoulder a lot of blame here.
7. 30/30 Seasons
He compiled five 30 home run/30 stolen base seasons in his career (1990, 1992, 1995-97), which is an all-time record, as well as doing it in three consecutive seasons. What makes this outstanding is that in the 1993 and 1994 seasons, when he didn’t make the 30/30 list, Bonds hit 46 and 37 home runs respectively, while stealing 29 bases in each of those years. That’s pretty damn close. And 1994 was a strike shortened season. Did we mention than Bonds became the second player in history to go 40/40 in 1996? It’s only been done by two players since.
6. 500/500 Club
There is a special ‘club’ in baseball, called the 300-300 club. It is reserved for players who have over 300 career home runs AND at least 300 career stolen bases. A mere eight players in baseball history are in this club, including Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, Bobby Bonds, Reggie Sanders, Steve Finley, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and of course, Barry Bonds. If that wasn’t reason enough, Barry is the only one of those players who has the stats to make the 400-400 club. Impressive, right? Well then consider that Bonds is also so far above the others in the 300-300 club, that he is also the sole member of the 500-500 club! A-Rod and Beltran were the last active players on that list, and they both finished close to 200 stolen bases away.
4. Gold Gloves
We know about the home runs. But defensively, he certainly was a fine left fielder. He won eight Gold Gloves during the course of his career. Considering players such as Ozzie Smith have been enshrined in Cooperstown, mainly for their defensive acumen despite their lack of offensive prowess, why shouldn’t Bonds’ defensive capabilities garner him Hall of Fame consideration? Nothing is mentioned of how PED’s aided him defensively, if at all. But combining that with his offensive numbers, he should have already had his head molded.
3. Three MVP’s Before Suspicion
Bonds won three National League MVPs (1990, 1992-93) well before the suspicion of drug use came into play in the latter part of the decade. His four other NL MVPs (2001-04) can be questioned, most definitely. But it’s difficult to discount the initial three, without any hard evidence. Jimmie Foxx, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, Yogi Berra, Roy Campanella, Mickey Mantle, Mike Schmidt, Alex Rodriguez and Albert Pujols are the only other players with three MVP’s to their name. All are in Cooperstown except A-Rod and Pujols (who is still active). Time will tell what happens to that pair, but that’s not bad company. Three MVP’s should equal HOF.
2. He Faced Pitchers Who Were Probably Juiced
If Bonds’ alleged steroid/PED use is being questioned, shouldn’t it be considered that some of the pitchers he was facing were doing exactly the same things? If so, would Bonds really have been at an advantage? Would the pitcher have it instead? The waters become very muddy when trying to decipher how this affected the game and players specifically. All we can surmise is that those who used ‘something’ had an advantage over those that didn’t. As for users versus users, we simply don’t know. If we don’t definitively know, can we hold it against him? Even if he did use drugs to increase his slugging, he was facing pitchers using drugs to increase their velocity and endurance. Maybe it was more of a level playing field than some critics insist.
1. Other Cheaters Are In The Hall Of Fame
If we operate under the assumption that Bonds was a cheat and that is the reason for his exclusion to the Hall of Fame, what about other acknowledged cheaters? Ty Cobb, for instance. He cheated by wearing long spikes to intentionally hurt opponents when sliding and even his own teammates condemned him for it. Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry threw the spitball, long after it was outlawed, all the way to the Hall of Fame. This isn’t to justify Bonds’ actions, but to make the arguments that one type of cheating cannot be considered worse than another type. Even if Bonds used PEDs, his numbers make him one of the best players of all-time. Can baseball writers really just refuse to induct an entire generation of ball players, Bonds included, just because they may have cheated in a different way than players of the past? We think that’s bogus. How can one cheater be allowed entrance and another denied?