I know what that conversation surrounding Barry Bonds and the Hall of Fame will trigger a lot of people. Bonds has rightfully been held out of the Hall of Fame for this long, as he didn’t deserve to be a first, second or third ballot Hall of Famer for the way he cheated the game. However, the Hall of Fame class for 2022 or lack thereof will carry major implications for how future Hall of Famer candidates will be judged.
If you don’t allow the all-time leader in home runs into the Hall of Fame due to steroid use, then you completely rule out making an exception for any future aspiring Hall of Fame player if their name is linked to PEDs. It certainly doesn’t look good for the game that neither the all-time leader in hits nor homers is enshrined.
As a comparison, Pete Rose doesn’t get any sympathy or defense from me, particularly if the allegations of him maintaining a sexual relationship with a minor back in the 70’s is indeed true. As an individual, Rose hasn’t given me much reason to care for his position. However, I expect him to get to the Hall of Fame one day.
Many would argue that Bonds was on his way to being a Hall of Fame player with or without the PED usage, but with the usage, he was able to break many of the most prestigious records in the books. He is the all-time leader in home runs, walks, slugging and OBP. He will never and should never be given full credit for those accomplishments.
The truth is, there are players that are in the Hall of Fame that accomplished less with the usage of PEDs, particularly because PEDs weren’t banned from the MLB until 1990. Testing for the substances didn’t begin until 2003, so the league certainly wasn’t in a hurry to stop the flurry of long balls that made the league fun for many fans, albeit for the wrong reason. Bonds was already a clear-cut Hall of Fame player by 2003 from a statistical standpoint.
If Bonds never makes it to the Hall of Fame, I won’t lose any sleep. However, if he doesn’t get in, the league must prepare to keep the same treatment for every single player in league history that has been linked to performance-enhancing drugs.