COMMENTARY | Will Barry Bonds ever get voted into baseball's Hall of Fame? Probably not.
Should he? Absolutely.
Most everyone who follows baseball has an opinion on Bonds, but it's awfully hard to deny his greatness as a player.
Here are five reasons why Barry Bonds should be in the Hall of Fame -- like it or not:
He dominated his era: Major League Baseball might want you to forget that the so-called "steroid era" ever existed, but it did exist and Bonds was by far the best player alive while it was happening. Was his production PED-fueled? Probably so, but how many players from that era were enhancing their performances with drugs?
How many pitchers that Bonds faced were taking something themselves? It's not as if baseball was a squeaky-clean operation and Bonds was the only player in the league with a cloud of suspicion hanging over him. Baseball may not like the fact that the sport went through this era, but it did and trying to pretend otherwise is a losing effort. If the Hall of Fame is a museum dedicated to the history of the game, it simply cannot ignore an entire generation of players. And the list of the best players from that generation starts with Bonds.
He was great before the PED allegations: Suspicion surrounding Bonds started around his age 33 season in 1998. From 1986 through 1997, Bonds put up the following numbers: .288/.408/.551, 374 HRs, 1,094 RBIs, 417 SB, and 1,227 walks. He averaged a 30/30 season every year in that span, and added three MVP Awards, seven Gold Glove Awards, and seven All-Star appearances. This wasn't the case of some run-of-the-mill ballplayer likely taking PEDs and becoming a superstar; Bonds already was a superstar, and a Hall of Fame-caliber one at that.
The numbers cannot be ignored: He's the all-time leader in home runs and walks. He's the only player in history to have 500 home runs (or 600, or 700) and 500 stolen bases. His 2004 season might be the greatest single season a hitter has ever had, and a few of his other seasons aren't far behind. He was arguably the most feared hitter the game had seen since Babe Ruth (and was once even intentionally walked with the bases loaded). There is simply no statistical argument to be made that keeps Bonds out of the Hall of Fame.
He changed the game: For better or for worse, there's no denying Bonds changed the game. Managers changed their entire strategies to face Bonds, intentionally walking him more than any other player in history. His combination of speed and power might have been the best the game had seen since his godfather Willie Mays played.
And like it or not, the allegations that Bonds cheated and the records that he broke forced Major League Baseball to take a harder look at the steroid issue and take more steps to combat it. Bonds was a transcendent player, both in good ways and bad.
It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Morals: Everywhere you look in the Hall of Fame you can find someone involved in a scandal. Some served time, some were hardcore racists, some were philanderers, and some were just lousy people. The Hall of Fame is a monument to baseball and everything that happened in it, warts and all. It's not a place for moral judgments or for nice guys only; if that were the case, they could probably fit the entire museum in some guy's studio apartment.
In the grand scheme of things, is what Bonds and others from his era allegedly did worse than what other Hall of Famers did? Did Bonds and the rest really cheat the game if the game itself wasn't clean to begin with?
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer. His work has appeared on sites such as Yahoo Sports and Yahoo Sports' Big League Stew. Follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
- Sports & Recreation
- Barry Bonds
- Major League Baseball