It does seem odd though to leave a player of Bonds’ caliber out of a shrine meant to honor the best players ever. He was easily one of, if not the, best player of his generation even before the steroid allegations. He was a Gold Glover, all-star, and winning MVP awards well before there was ever speculation that he was using performance-enhancing drugs.
Bonds’ off-field actions during his playing career aren’t helping him now either. He never endeared himself to the media, typically coming off as a bully, and most fans view him as an arrogant jerk. McGwire, who many viewed as a good guy when he played, has kept busy since retiring, coaching hitting for the St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Dodgers. Bonds can’t even get a callback for a hitting coach job from the San Francisco Giants.
It’s impossible to tell which players were using drugs during the steroids era. Several big-name players have had their names affiliated with steroids, and the number of players who used steroids in the 90s and 2000s could be anywhere from 5 to 15 to 50 percent…there’s just no way to know. There’s a chance that Bonds was hitting many of his record-setting home runs against pitchers that were using the same drugs he (allegedly) used.
Which is why Bonds and other great players who are suspected of steroid use ultimately should get into the Hall of Fame…eventually. I agree that first ballot is way too soon, and making them wait five to 10 years is also a fair punishment. But with no way of knowing who really was using, and with the Hall of Fame meant to encapsulate baseball’s best players ever, we need to accept that a lot of great players used steroids during that era. Put an asterisk on their plaque if you want, but Bonds, Clemons, Rafael Palmeiro, and many others belong in the Hall of Fame.
For Bonds, it would help his case to get out and show some candor and humility. Doing media interviews admitting he made mistakes in his career would be a start. Expressing his respect for the Hall of Fame and understanding why he’s not getting voted in would help too. Bonds will need more than numbers to win over the baseball public.
Was Bonds a cheater? Probably. But so was everyone else from that era. Just like the whispers that several players used amphetamine in the 70s and 80s, steroids were a part of baseball back then.
Bonds deserves to hear vitriol and insults from fans for allegedly using steroids.
But he also deserves to one day hear cheers from fans when he’s finally inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Follow Stefen Lovelace on Twitter @StefenLovelace