Wednesday had to be bittersweet for Barry Bonds.
Bonds’ whole life has been spent around baseball. His father was an All-Star. His godfather, Willie Mays, was one of the best players ever. He spent his career striving to be one of the best that ever played.
Wednesday his name appeared on the 2013 Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot. Getting on the ballot is validation that you’re one of the game’s best.
But getting on the ballot may be the closest he ever gets. The steroids controversy that tarnished the end of his career may mean that he’ll never get enough votes to get into the Hall.
Bonds wasn’t the only former player on the ballot with a steroid history. Roger Clemens – who is one of the best pitchers ever, and earlier this year was found not guilty of lying to Congress about steroids – also appeared on the ballot for the first time. Sammy Sosa, whose best known for his memorable run at the single season home run title with steroid user Mark McGwire, was another high profile first-time name. It’s long been believed that Sosa also abused performance enhancers throughout his career.
There’s no way these players will get in as first ballot Hall of Famers, and many wonder if voters will ever be willing to give suspected and admitted steroid users baseball’s most prestigious honor. Last year, McGwire received just 20 percent of the votes (a player needs 75 percent of the votes to get put in), and he’s been on the ballot since 2007.
It’s understandable that voters would be hesitant to let reported and alleged steroid users into the Hall of Fame. The vote isn’t purely on performance, and voters are asked to take into consideration a player’s integrity and character. Pete Rose, the all-time hits leader, still hasn’t been elected after he admitted to betting on baseball, and he hasn’t been in the game for 20-plus years.