We’ve known for several years now that 2022 was going to be a landmark year which would set the standard for Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voting for years to come. Baseball progressives had been pleading their case for years for people like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to make the Hall of Fame. Even I stepped in and tried to offer members of the BBWAA reasons for Bonds and Clemens to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Alas, only David Ortiz received the 75 percent of votes required to earn Hall of Fame recognition. In their final year on the ballot, Bonds (66 percent) and Clemens (65.2 percent) fell short.
With that, it’s clear the Baseball Hall of Fame has no desire to tell the story of baseball. Rather, much like Rob Manfred and Bud Selig have done for a quarter century at this point, they’d rather duck their heads in the sand and hope the sports world forgets about the not-so-pleasant moments of baseball history.
They’d rather only well-liked people earn enshrinement than all-time great baseball players. Essentially, the Hall failed Bonds.
I understand the desire to leave Clemens off. His alleged affair with a 15-year-old has enough evidence behind it to make anybody disgusted with the seven-time Cy Young Award winner, and if there were any crimes that automatically ensured someone was kept out of the Hall of Fame, statutory rape would definitely be one of them. For these reasons as well as his PED usage, Clemens being inducted into the Hall of Fame would leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. Bonds is a different story though.
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Bonds was not a well-liked individual during his time in the Major Leagues. Despite never officially testing positive for PEDs during his playing days, he was listed in the infamous Mitchell Report and was implicated in the BALCO scandal. That was enough for the journalists who disliked Bonds’ general attitude to leave the all-time home run leader out of the Hall of Fame, despite having already voted in former commissioner Bud Selig, whose biggest accomplishment was hiding the fact that so many players were using performance-enhancing drugs so that the game could garner more public appeal. That’s bullshit. Sorry. Have I mentioned that he’s in Cooperstown?
The fact is that the story of baseball cannot be told without mentioning the PED era, and Bonds is the face of the PED era. The all-time leader in home runs should be in a building dedicated to commemorating the best players in baseball history. It’s as simple as that.
Honestly, I just hope the Hall stays consistent with its voting process in the future now. MLB executives have come forward claiming that Spider Tack is at the very least as effective as steroids. With that in mind, when Gerrit Cole finds himself on the ballot, Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Adam Wainwright, and many others who were named in the Harkins v. MLB scandal, they better not earn 75 percent of the vote. I don’t care how well-liked some of these guys are. By the Hall’s own standards, none of them should get in.
There are some other lessons we can take away from the announcement as well.
For one, Sammy Sosa received a shockingly low number of votes given that his only positive PED test happened in the same situation that Oritz’s positive test happened. Both tested positive in the anonymous 2003 survey test — done to ascertain the level of use in the league — and neither was supposed to suffer any sort of consequence from the test. However, someone on the inside leaked the results. Thus, both Ortiz and Sosa found themselves in hot water.
Big Papi was able to climb out of that hole with his affable demeanor, and popular public appeal. He was a World Series MVP and is the all-time home run leader for designated hitters. Sosa, on the other hand, despite playing a more demanding position, finishing his career with more home runs, and posting only slightly worse offensive stats than Ortiz everywhere else, Sosa never received more than 20 percent of votes. It doesn’t make sense to me. Should he be in the Hall of Fame? Maybe not, but he definitely should’ve appeared on more than 20 percent of ballots at least once.
Elsewhere, Andruw Jones and Jeff Kent continue to be unappreciated. Jones, though, was arrested for domestic battery in 2012, meanwhile Kent was just considered a jerk in many baseball circles.
In terms of their baseball ability, both players should already be in Cooperstown if you ask me. Jones is widely regarded as the greatest defensive center fielder of all-time. He also hit 434 home runs. He even led the league in home runs and RBI in 2005. That’s a Hall of Famer.
You can stack Kent’s offensive numbers with that of any second baseman in history, and he’ll stack up remarkably well. Even though he left a little to be desired on the defensive end, Kent was a menace with the bat in his hands, winning and MVP in 2000. Anyone who can outshine Bonds on his own team deserves to appear on more than 32.7 percent of ballots.
This was an atrocious year for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I didn’t even get into the fact that Tim Hudson didn’t receive enough votes to appear on next year’s ballot despite a six-year stretch with the Oakland A’s that was better than any other pitcher on this year’s list. Still, four starting pitchers earned more votes than him. I didn’t even talk about closer Billy Wagner’s insane credentials that keep getting overlooked. That’s how bad the announcement was this year.
There are so many things I’d like to talk about, but they all feel small in comparison to the hypocrisy the BBWAA displayed. Please, for the sake of my sanity, do better in 2023.