Pedro Martinez said Thursday that Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds belong in baseball's Hall of Fame, even if both of their careers are questionable because of an association with performance-enhancing drugs.
Martinez, himself eligible on the coming ballot and expected, perhaps universally, to be among Cooperstown's 2015 class, was being inducted with Clemens into the Boston Red Sox's Hall of Fame when he made his comments via ESPN Boston. Clemens and Bonds have been among those eligible in the past two seasons for Cooperstown, but neither has come close to election — almost certainly because of an association with PEDs.
Martinez consistently has denied using PEDs, similarly to how slugger Frank Thomas has answered such questions about his own career. Thomas was inducted into Cooperstown in July.
Bonds has admitted, in grand jury testimony, that he "unknowingly" took banned substances during his career. Clemens only has been accused. Both have been convicted, so to speak, of benefitting from PEDs by a large number of Hall of Fame voters and much of the public.
Regardless of how Clemens and Bonds are perceived, or even what they might have done, Martinez says they were Hall of Fame caliber long before, it's believed, either might have used PEDs. And thus, they belong in Cooperstown:
"I think Roger, with all due respect to everybody that votes, I'll have to say Roger and Barry Bonds are two guys that I think had enough numbers before anything came out to actually earn a spot in the Hall of Fame," Martinez said. "I'm not quite sure 100 percent how close they will be before all the things came out, but in my heart, if you asked me before any of that, I would've said, 'Yes, 100 percent' without looking back.
"It wasn't just the individual performances, [it was] how they dominated the time that they came up and stayed in the big leagues until those things happened. I believe they have a legit chance, and I think, with time, the voters will take into consideration what they did previously."
Martinez might be right about Clemens and Bonds "belonging," but it's going to be tricky for voting members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to come together and put one or both in Cooperstown. The Hall of Fame shortened their potential time on the ballot in new rules published in July. Clemens, Bonds, Sammy Sosa and others have only until 2022, instead of 2027. Will Clemens and Bonds rise from 30-something percent to the required 75 percent in eight years?
Chances are, both will need the support of a future veterans committee to make it — which is why someone of Martinez's stature sticking up for them is significant. Someone like Pedro might need to talk a future voting body into seeing it his way: That Bonds and Clemens are Hall of Famers, regardless of what chemicals they might have put into their bodies.
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