News came last night that David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox home run hero, is now a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He will join six other players that were selected from a veteran’s committee – including Jim Kaat, Buck O’Neill and Minnie Minoso – as Hall of Famers at the next induction in Cooperstown.
Also notable was the fact that neither Barry Bonds nor Roger Clemens did not receive enough votes to merit enshrinement. They will now have to wait for consideration by various committees for future consideration.
And let me say this. Those four men were fantastic baseball players in their time.
But all four men need to buy tickets if they want to enter the Hall.
First off… Barry Bonds used steroids. It’s clear. Well, it’s cream and clear. He used anabolic steroids to gain a competitive advantage in the sport. So did Roger Clemens. And Clemens was kind of a dick, I mean, he had a long-time extramarital affair with country singer Mindy McCready, so there’s that.
Now you can say to me, “But Chuck, did Barry Bonds really cheat? I mean, everyone else was doing steroids at the time, Bonds just benefited from it the most.”
Not the point. You should be able to play baseball at the highest level based on your skills and your talent, not because some chemist created a super-serum that helps you crush homers while shrinking your gonads to the size of pinto beans.
And if you say to me, “But Chuck, dozens of ballplayers slept around on their wives, and some of them are in the Hall. Wade Boggs, for instance.”
I can’t speak for Wade Boggs. I’m speaking for Roger Clemens. It’s still cheating. And Clemens took the needle as well. It’s the same reason that sure-lock Hall of Famers like Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco and Mark McGuire aren’t in the Hall. They juiced up.
The thing is, a Hall of Fame is different than a book of records. A book of records is straight and legit. Barry Bonds hit more major league home runs than anyone else? That’s in the book. Barry Bonds did many of those with chemical additives? That’s not a sign of good character.
It’s the same reason why Pete Rose won’t ever get a plaque in the Hall. More major league hits than anyone else? Yes. Bet on baseball games, including on games where he managed the team? That’s the kicker. Athletes betting on their own sport introduces the possibility of game manipulation for the betting line. Rose bets on his team to win – but what about the times he doesn’t bet? Does he think that his team will lose that day, and knows not to bet that contest?
The thing is, if you really want to be a nit-picker about it, there’s probably a reason to toss half the baseball Hall of Famers out of Cooperstown. This one cheated on his wife. That one used spitballs. This one was a Klansman. That one sharpened his spikes to injure people. This one was a raging drunk. That one fought against baseball integration. And so on and so forth.
But yeah, Big Papi made the Hall. And good on him.
As for Bonds and Clemens, they can go appear at that wax museum two blocks away from Cooperstown, where there’s a bust of Pete Rose and some other Hall of Famers on exhibit.
That may be the closest they’ll really get to the Hall of Fame itself.