It wasn’t originally a point/counterpoint, but that’s what it became.
Ron Cook is a good friend, one of my journalistic mentors, and a great colleague here at the Post-Gazette and 93.7 The Fan. We spent many days working together in various news outlets around the country, and I have enjoyed his work very much since my fascination with newspapers began in my teens in the mid-1980s.
There are a lot of things he and I agree on, but when it comes to the Baseball Hall of Fame, we couldn’t be further apart. He believes that no one who has ever been suspected of taking steroids should be in the Hall of Fame; I couldn’t disagree with that more. And as for Barry Bonds in the Pirate Hall of Fame, I think he’s dead wrong as well.
Bonds should be in the Pirate Hall of Fame and should be one of the inaugural class members. There’s no two ways about it. But before discussing bonds, let’s do a quick history lesson.
I’ve often said it’s a sham that the same baseball writers who poetized in real-time about the chases of the late 1990s and early 2000s all seem to have short memories. Chases really saved baseball and brought it back after the 1994 idiot players’ strike nearly killed it. Baseball writers, many of whom are Hall of Fame voters, all know this, as do baseball managers and executives back in the day.
They wrote rave story after rave story on lawsuits and voted for all of these guys to win MVP awards and various other awards. They did it knowing something was wrong with those guys over there who suddenly had biceps and forearms like Popeye after eating a can of spinach. No one believed that the chases weren’t fueled by something bigger than Wheaties and milk, but they all kept covering it endlessly and no questions asked.
That’s until Barry Bonds started breaking records. And then it got personal because Bonds was a jerk to just about everyone he came in contact with, and that’s especially true for sports media. I truly believe that if Bonds weren’t involved in the discussion, every type of steroid that should be in the Hall of Fame would be in the Hall of Fame. But with Bonds, it’s personal for most of these guys, and they hide behind a flimsy, nonsensical interpretation of the “integrity clause” to keep him out.
That’s my own opinion on this, and reasonable, intelligent people can disagree and be civil about it. Ultimately, it’s a sporting argument – nothing personal, just a disagreement. And as dishonest as I think the “steroid guys cheated the game” argument is and as much of a joke as I think the “integrity clause” is, I will at least listen to those arguments.
In a sport where people of my color were not allowed to play until 1947, shouldn’t all previous achievements be tainted and therefore unworthy of honor? And if the steroid era is recognized as some kind of tainted era full of cheaters who lack integrity, why exactly is the man who turned a blind eye to it and allowed it, Bud Selig, in the Hall of Fame?
They saved his game, he gets the credit and they are punished. Come on, man, what kind of dog and pony show is on here?
This brings me back to obligations.
Bonds did not take steroids and was not charged with them during his time with the Pirates. He didn’t “cheat the game,” and while he was a villain to some reporters, he played the game the right way every night. He wasn’t able to top the Pirates in the playoffs, but he took them to three straight division titles — their only division titles since 1979, by the way. He was an MVP in every sense of the word in his seven seasons with the Pirates.
You can’t build a list of the Pirates’ top three all-time players without Bonds’ name on it. And I could argue that he’s No. 1 on that list, even though longevity matters and he’s only been with the team for seven years.
If the Hall of Fame’s integrity clause makes baseball writers feel better about themselves for harboring a grudge and making it personal against Bonds, fine. But that doesn’t apply to the Pirates Hall of Fame and Bonds because he didn’t take steroids when he played for Pittsburgh.
You don’t have to like Barry Bonds, but what he did in a Pirates uniform was spectacular and he deserves to be honored for those seven years of his career before the steroid controversy hit him. surrounded.
He should be in the main Hall of Fame, but there’s at least one flimsy and hypocritical argument to keep him out. There’s no argument other than “I didn’t like him” to keep him out of the Pirate Hall of Fame, and that means no argument.