Barry Bonds’ HOF conundrum

With all the talks of the baseball hall of fame these days, the subject of whether any and all steroid era players should be included, let alone voted into, the prestigious honor often comes up. Many, if not most, of the baseball purists, would rather have them outright banned for life due to the simple fact that they have used the performance-enhancing drugs and cheated by putting monstrous statistical numbers, despite the fact that steroids, the earliest version of PED, have been used since the 1960s and 1970s being introduced by bodybuilders like “Superstar” Billy Graham, who later turned to professional wrestling, and Arnold Schwarzenegger, who later became one of the biggest names in Hollywood during the 1980s after a stint in bodybuilding. While the like of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez had clearly been using PEDs throughout their careers, one name sticks out amongst them that, one would be mistaken for being accused taking PEDs just the same as others if not paying much of attention at all; in fact, this individual was crucified mercilessly even though half of what was accused of weren’t him as instigator, yet he was still unceremoniously predicated as the poster child of what was wrong with baseball. To the point that I have decided to post this question for consideration: what if I tell you that the entire purpose of him using PEDs was to pinpoint the very hypocrisy within baseball community at large have been exhibiting all those times? What’s more fascinating is that had it not been choices made for the sole purpose of screwing him ten times over just because he wasn’t in the MLB Players Association, let alone the strike-shortened seasons in 1994-95, and various injuries he had suffered throughout his career, he could have had reached 3000 hits and crushing the all-time home run record much sooner than 2006, yet the press would STILL accuse him of PED use regardless, I kid you not. One might answer who that individual be, isn’t that obvious that this man is just so happened to be the son of Bobby Bonds, and the godson of “Say Hey” kid Willie Mays? You’ll be correct if you guess Barry Bonds, that’s because he is the statistical anomaly and conundrum for all of them alive and breathing members of baseball writers.

One must be wondering why Bonds’ statistics is such a tough nut to crack, at least in my opinion, this conundrum began when he was in his last year as a member of Pittsburgh Pirates in 1992 and lasted until his last season as a member of San Francisco Giants in 2007, where we saw first of many egregious examples of the ratio between intentional walks and walks (see table below).

Barry Bonds intentional walk/walk ratio

Upon reviewing these data, while it’s indisputable that intentional walks are part of baseball strategy to avoid getting into direct confrontation with sluggers, one must question the sanity into such tactics when such strategy gets weaponized with reckless behavior. While we might never know what could have happened if some, if not the absolute majority, of those walks and instead turned into hits, one could wonder whether he would have reached 3000 hits while conquering the all-time home run record around the same time. Some may have disputed this claim but considering that he was only 65 hits short of 3000, it’s not as remote as some might believe if thinking about it much deeper. While I can agree that Bonds could have shattered the all-time home run record without PED use, however, one must also factor in what he had also achieved prior to 1999 as he was all alone in the exclusive club of the 400-400 (400 home runs and runs batted in each), something that, unbeknownst to all and for whatever reason, never once in the baseball media has caught onto, which was rather astonishing considering that nobody aside from Bonds has ever achieved that feat, let alone the 500-500 club. He was also the only father and son tandem reaching 300-300 club, and one of four members of 40-40 club alongside Jose Canseco, the whistleblower of the “steroid era” investigation, Alex Rodriguez, one of the previously mentioned players who had extensive use, and Alfonso Soriano, A-Rod’s teammate during their New York Yankees days, and yet that’s rarely mentioned either. So what did that leave Bonds with? Constant chocking alongside his teammates in both Pittsburgh and San Francisco during playoffs (while also dismissing how he came one single game short of winning his first World Series in 2002)? Is that we should eternally in exclusivity remember
Bonds by?

I had previously mentioned on Facebook and/or YouTube that had any one of those newspaper editors outside the San Francisco Bay Area not put 400-400 achievement stuck on Page 8 in the Sports section, and treated as it meant absolutely NOTHING to the rest of the country by diminishing its importance in their minds, none of what happened since then would have occurred had they focused on the statistics in the first place.  While Bonds wasn’t exactly doing his reputation any favors by appearing rather annoyingly towards some members of baseball media, one cannot be using their preconceived notions of his reputation to justify the systemic weaponization by delivering some dubious allegations that weren’t his fight when initiated.  Bonds was taught to play the sport in the right way but was also taught to be vigilant about unjustifiable criticisms, and since he was a child of the Civil Rights era, all he has ever wanted was to play the game like all those purists have ever wanted, but some of the most antagonistic criticism would set him off as being difficult for media to handle, and this powder keg would explode into the most extreme driving force by one man, even if it meant to use PED to justify his points of baseball’s hypocrisy, and we were all made into nothing but fools because we gave the blatant cheaters a blind eye, blaming Bonds for lashing out against the hypocrisy, and turned our backs on the likes of him by labeling them as “cheaters”.  I honestly believe that all of those PED talks could have been averted, but due to MLBPA’s gross incompetence and condoned by MLB, we have what we have, and here’s the kicker for all to consider as to why Bonds parted ways with MLBPA.  There’s your answer.

Would I vote for Bonds to be inducted into the Hall of Fame with this set of arguments? I would, in a heartbeat. Same cannot be said about the likes of those other ones alongside Roger Clemens, whom I hate to break this news for you all to consider: this mouth has gotten better of him even worse than the PED scandal and lawsuit. Look no closer than Game 4 of the 1990 American League Championship Series in Oakland as an example, and the incident in question began during the bottom half of the second inning when Clemens walked Willie Randolph, what came next became part of his legacy as he laced a profanity-filled directed at the home plate umpire in the game, and Clemens was promptly ejected from the game. Then there was the baseball bat tossing incident at Mike Piazza, who was playing for the New York Mets at the time and was also beamed by Clemens prior to that incident. After that, his testimony with the Congress and the defamation lawsuit caused him to retire from the game, but the latter event has declared a mistrial due to revealing prejudicial evidence documents that were not allowed to be admitted. His series of criticism towards a well-written researched book and the late Roy Halladay by accusing him of taking amphetamines during his playing career wasn’t helping the cause. His constant denial of PED use was also one of the factors why Bonds took PED (or should be said suspicion of taking) since they made him look like a moron, “tradition be damned”. While we may never know whether Bonds had taken PED in certainty, Clemens definitely had done so, as much as he keeps denying it. In summary, or at least the best way to conclude this piece is that, considering what the reaction has been since the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal has become public knowledge, while we can argue about the motives of those who have taken, or suspicious of taking PEDs, it had no effects in the overall game other than certain individualistic performance, but even that is varied game by game, that’s what baseball game is about, it’s matching or countering strategy on the field, but predicting the game strategy is way, way worse than the PED issues by a country mile, and it is equally as heinous than “Black Sox scandal” in 1919 World Series and Pete Rose betting scandal in a three-year span from 1986 to 1989. Had it not been complicated by those initiated, I doubt we would be discussing any of this calamity, won’t we?