A day after baseball’s annual Hall of Fame announcement, we’re left in a familiar place: pondering how history should view Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. Their numbers are all-time great, but their connections to performance-enhancing drugs are the things keeping them out of Cooperstown.
Alex Rodriguez knows that feeling well too. Well, not the last part. Not yet.
Which is why he’ll tell you he’s rooting with all his might for Bonds and Clemens to get in — because it would help him out. A-Rod was on ESPN’s “First Take” on Wednesday talking about the Hall of Fame class and what a Bonds/Clemens election could mean to him.
“Of course I want them to get in,” he said, “because that would mean that I have an opportunity to get in one day.”
What chances to Bonds and Clemens have to get in Cooperstown?
Bonds and Clemens fell well below the all-important 75 percent threshold on this year’s ballot. Bonds finished at 59.1 percent, with Clemens slightly ahead at 59.5 percent. They have three more years on the ballot, three more chances to get that 16 percent needed.
It’s not impossible, but it’s not likely either. They’ve each gained about 14 percent in the past three years, but you have to figure the holdouts at this point might be the toughest people to turn.
2022: The Hall of Fame/PED reckoning
Where this gets particularly interesting is 2022, which would be both the final year for Clemens and Bonds on the ballot and the first year that A-Rod is on the ballot. It could be the ultimate reckoning on the PED era in baseball.
This isn’t the only reason A-Rod’s in their corner. He subscribes to the idea that Bonds and Clemens were both Hall of Famers before their alleged PED use began. He told “First Take”:
“Look, I pray every day I get a chance to get in,” Rodriguez said. “The Hall of Fame is the ultimate place.
“If you think about Roger and Barry specifically … If you stopped their career at the age of 33 or 34, they were both first ballot and then the noise [about PEDs] started. For me, it’s just a shame. I am certainly cheering for both of them. I like them both very much. They’re both friends, and I’m in their corner.”
The difference between A-Rod and Clemens/Bonds
There’s one big difference between A-Rod and Clemens/Bonds. A-Rod has been suspended for performance-enhancing drugs, served his time, owns his mistakes and continues to apologize for them.
“I’ve taken the approach that I think talking about it is best,” Rodriguez said. “I’ve made my mistakes, I’ve paid huge penalties.”
If we get to 2022 with Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod on the ballot, it may add some nuance to the Hall of Fame question: Would you vote for the PED user who admitted it? Or the guys who haven’t?
More Hall of Fame coverage from Yahoo Sports:
• Hall of Fame adds four: Rivera, Halladay, Martinez and Mussina
• Rivera becomes first-ever unanimous Hall selection
• Bonds, Clemens, Schilling make progress toward Cooperstown
• Jeter headlines star-studded 2020 ballot
• The phone rang for Halladay, one of the greats