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Some readers of this blog — and some sports fans in general — have expressed outrage that Barry Bonds flopped on his first Hall of Fame ballot. Bruce Jenkins of the Chron said the Hall of Fame is ludicrous without Bonds. I didn’t vote for Bonds. I don’t feel ludicrous. I don’t think the voters are ludicrous. I didn’t vote for Bonds because I don’t want to condone cheating. I do not vote for cheaters and I believe Bonds was a cheater.

I know what some of you are thinking. Cheaters are in the Hall. Like Gaylord Perry. He threw a spitter and he’s in.

Wait a minute. There is a tradition of cheating on the field, of doing it in plane sight. Guy throws a spitter with the umps and the other team and the fans watching. Catch him if you can. Guys steal signs all the time. You get the point.

Taking PEDs is hidden, behind the scenes.

And one other thing. It always was illegal to take PEDs without a doctor’s prescription. No one ever got prosecuted for throwing a spitball.

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29 Comments

  1. Stan

    It all who you look at it. Ken Burns is strongly anti Bonds. Ken Burns painted the south as brave in the civil war and also righteous-except for that slavery thing, and he also did a tribute to alcoholism in America with his series on Prohibition.

    Its a popularity contest. If not then,it would be automatic that records would get you in. Bonds has that–right?

    January 10th, 2013 10:25 am

  2. Stan

    It’s how you look at it. Why don’t I spot that stuff before my finger hits send?..

    January 10th, 2013 10:27 am

  3. dharte

    Logically this makes no sense.

    So if a thug steals is plain view and no one stops him that’s not a crime, but if the theft is done at night while the victim sleeps, it is? In terms of records and achievement, Perry is no different than Bonds.

    Cheating is always an attempt to trump talent. Bonds was clearly not the greatest home run hitter of all time, as his first decade in the league proves, yet he was a great player during those first ten years.

    His ego wanted more. He saw the farce that was McGwire/Sosa and hated the fact they were bigger “stars” while cheating. So he joined them to beat them, and then he “beat” Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth, and Henry Aaron.

    So I do understand your contempt for Bonds. I just don’t think the Hall of Fame has any credibility on this point. Perry was not a great pitcher without the spitball; there are many others like him.

    Then again, baseball’s great records are meaningless at this point and always will be.

    Things, the old man said, fall apart. Even if no one wants to admit the facts.

    January 10th, 2013 10:27 am

  4. CohnZohn

    dharte, I clearly did not condone crimes in my post. I made a specific point of that. Your analogy is imprecise and ignores what I wrote.

    January 10th, 2013 10:30 am

  5. Stan

    Yeah,but MLB doesn’t say to to consider that a crime,cheating even makes you ineligible. Pete Rose..they wanted out of the HOF..and Rose,knowing he was a one and only was caught. Bonds..he was part of what all players have done.
    I blame the writers for one thing…they have never sued baseball to get a decision on how to vote for the steroid era. Try small claims.

    January 10th, 2013 10:58 am

  6. tkh

    The rules say the writers decide. You have a vote and your reasoning really doesn’t matter. While I see your reasoning as flawed and inconsistent the Hall doesn’t require your reasoning; only your vote. I think the inconsistency occurs because some people conflate induction into the Hall with condoning cheating while others feel that induction doesn’t necessarily condone cheating. Thus your tortured reasoning with the Gaylord Perry example. Some cheating is ok and some cheating is not based on criteria that you have chosen? The Hall itself perpetuates inconsistency by requesting, receiving and displaying memorabilia from Bonds. His accomplishments can be celebrated in the Hall but the man cannot because those accomplishments are “tainted”? MLB does the same by recognizing the records. But the Hall doesn’t have to make sense. It’s their Hall of Fame with their rules. Most of us forget the Hall of Fame is NOT a museum of the history of baseball. The subjectivity of the voting criteria allows you to make your decision on inconsistent reasoning if that is what you so choose. Nothing the rest of us can do about it. Having said that, I do believe that over the years the writers have done a pretty nice job of deciding who is in and who is not.

    January 10th, 2013 11:17 am

  7. tkh

    I have never met Bonds or Clemens but from all accounts they are very disagreeable persons. On that I will have to take the word of the writers who interacted with them on a daily basis. I have no interest in defending either person; that they can do individually. However I think the expectations we have for our professional athletes is unfair and unrealistic. From childhood we prop them up and train them to expect special treatment. Once they become professionals we expect them to do whatever it takes, take whatever pill, take whatever measures, to be the best of the best. We celebrate only winning not competition for competition sake. We tell them to shoot into their bodies whatever an employer paid doctor tells them to in order to get on the field so we who have purchased our tickets can see them perform. Then when they take it beyond the level expected we crucify them in the press, denigrate their character and generally treat them like they are not human. We cheer for years and then after the fact we penalize them for doing the very things we train them to do and expect them to do. We pick and choose which ones we want to scapegoat. We pick and choose which sports are ok to take PEDS (1980’s 49ers) and which sports are not (Olympics). In my opinion this is what we are doing to the baseball players from the steroid era. Which I feel is wrong and unfair.

    January 10th, 2013 11:25 am

  8. RednGold1

    Bud Selig looked the other way when it was his job to look it square in the eye and stop it. But as the stats got bigger, the crowds got bigger and then the money got bigger. Selig chose money over acting on a wrong to make it right. Point your finger at Bonds if you want to, but to ignore the greedy commish continues the wrong.

    January 10th, 2013 11:32 am

  9. Ben

    the baseball hall of fame is not heaven. and the voters aren’t St. Peter. until this whole debate, i always saw it as simply a place to enshrine the most talented and prodigious players in terms of numbers and impact on the game. i still feel that way. i don’t think it’s the place of the voters to make moral judgments. in my opinion their responsibility is to make sure that the HOF is a place where the very best players are enshrined. the other stuff is certainly open for debate and lively conversation. but can you or anyone say with a straight face that Bonds wasn’t the best hitter of his generation? can anyone who watched him play say that he wasn’t the dominant player of his era? of course not. so a HOF that is supposed to include the best players, without Bonds… it’s just not right. (same for Rose, as i’ve said here before, but we’re supposed to be outraged about his sins too.)

    January 10th, 2013 11:32 am

  10. Dennis

    I don’t know if Bonds should be in or not. Frankly, I really don’t care. But I must say that him not being in would mean and say a whole lot more if major league baseball players, past and present, were the ones who voted. To bring some credibility back to the Hall selection process, I would change who gets to vote. Don’t take this wrong, but I don’t think writers have the greatest perspective on what is and what isn’t. At least not like the actual players.

    If the players did not select Bonds think of all the interviews and stories you would be able to write trying to find out why.

    January 10th, 2013 11:54 am

  11. Frank in Minnesota

    …i understand why you did not vote for Bonds, and presumably would not do so for Sosa,Clemens and Mcguire….but given the time when they played and the fact that perhaps most of their colleagues cheated too…i would have voted him in…..ok, yeah, i’m weak!!!!

    January 10th, 2013 12:24 pm

  12. htwaits

    I like what Glenn Dickey wrote in his Wednesday subscription column about the history of cheating in baseball. He didn’t even get around to pointing out that the use of drugs has been endemic in baseball for decades. He also didn’t bother to include the millions that the owners raked in during “home run derby” years which occurred just before Bonds got into the act. The third thing he didn’t bother to point out is that Bonds was convicted of vague answers to the grand jury.

    Lowell, Glenn is a friend and colleague of yours. Have you guys agreed to disagree?

    January 10th, 2013 1:47 pm

  13. htwaits

    by Glenn Dickey
    Jan 09, 2013
    9JANUARY
    IT ALWAYS AMUSES me when fans talk about steroid use damaging the “integrity of the game”. In a half century of covering major league baseball, I haven’t found this integrity. What I have found is that players think only of ways of improving their performance, not ethics, and commissioners and owners think only of profits. Only naive fans think of integrity.

    January 10th, 2013 1:50 pm

  14. JayT

    You HOF voters don’t quite realize it, but you’ve just put a stake right through the heart of the organization you think you’re protecting. It’s a joke – NO ONE takes it seriously.

    A real hall of fame doesn’t need obsessive statistical analysis. The eye-ball test is all you need in most cases. Who were the biggest influences and names in baseball from 1990 – 2005 or so? Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Sosa, Piazza, etc. – that will never go away. Pretending they weren’t the most famous players of that era is just ridiculous. You’re also moralizing to people who really don’t give a crap about what you think of them personally. You’re not their father, so stop pretending otherwise.

    January 10th, 2013 2:05 pm

  15. Allan

    My understanding is that so-called “spitball” pitchers like Gaylord Perry hid sandpaper or other foreign substances somewhere on there caps or uniforms to alter the ball. That would have to be done before the game or in the dugout out of site. How would that change your argument about Perry vs. Bonds?

    In my view, it was up to MLB to police steroid users and if they didn’t do that during that time, it shouldn’t be up to the writers/HOF voters to decide years later to make up for what MBL missed. You guys/the HOF voters should focus on the record/stats as MLB lists it and that both clearly puts Bonds and Clemens in this year.

    January 10th, 2013 3:57 pm

  16. John Sousa

    Would you have voted for Ty Cobb? Notorious Racist. His stats are skewed because nobody knows how many at bats he had and at least one game was double-counted. Would you have voted for any of the players pre-integration? Because they weren’t playing against the best players, or at least not all of them. I’ve also said this before, the PED thing is a joke. I had the Bash Brothers poster on my wall as a kid. MLB Marketed the HELL out of them. The McGwire-Sosa home run battle “SAVED BASEBALL,” remember? Are baseball that naive? There were kids on my High School baseball team on steroids. After the Chronicle series came out everyone was shocked, SHOCKED that someone would cheat the hallowed game of baseball. Gimme a break.

    January 10th, 2013 4:09 pm

  17. Stan

    Seven time MVP,All time HR record,Single season HR record..ALL RECOGNIZED by MLB.
    He had HOF numbers.

    He wasn’t popular.

    January 10th, 2013 5:29 pm

  18. russell

    It is my belief that in the “old days”, the radio and the newspaper were really all folks had to go on to decide the “greatness” of players of the day. As a result, idols were made based upon the descriptions given by the announcers and writers of the time. My father and grandfather always had such great stories of old Cardinals games and players, the opponents, etc. These men were larger than life, idols and heroes to sports fans everywhere. As the layers peeled back with TV, then cable, internet, access to every game, every team, and from every market, we saw real people play sports. The flaws and issues are now front and center and announcers and writers couldn’t embelish the stories to the same extent. This is why we pine for the old radio guys, the old sports writers, etc. They had a canvas that doesn’t exist today and the results are what we see before us.

    January 10th, 2013 5:31 pm

  19. dharte

    Lowell,

    “Behind the scenes” is imprecise wording and changes nothing in terms of logic here. Perry hid (and was very good at hiding) his tools for cheating: Vaseline, emory boards, and god knows what else over twenty plus years; he also flaunted cheating, taunting the umps because they couldn’t catch him in the act.

    One other point: do you think, if he is not caught again, that Ryan Braun will be considered “cleared,” and perhaps even worthy of the HOF (as a former MVP), though he clearly got off on a technicality? Bruce Jenkins wrote that Braun was “exonerated”. That seems absurd, but then we both know the odds are great that steroid users are probably already in the HOF. Baseball, pro sports in general, have become a swamp. Hard to clean those up with rationalizations.

    January 10th, 2013 6:07 pm

  20. Stan

    Tim Kawakami writer of the year? Of course..the last two years his style changed- as I noted. He became one of the dull,never provocative writers that usually win that award.
    I said over and over…stop the 19,ooo “Al Davis bashing” columns and Tim would be in for a Pulitzer. I’m close.

    January 10th, 2013 6:20 pm

  21. Neal

    Bonds best stats were the last 5 years of his career. What does that tell you.Lowell did you vote yes for anyone like Jack Morris?

    January 10th, 2013 9:15 pm

  22. htwaits

    When comments are held back for extended periods of time waiting for approval, it detracts from the exchange of ideas here in the CohnZohn.

    Some time after Frank in Minnesota posted at 12:24 PM Thursday, I posted about Bonds and cheating. Mainly my post was inspired by the idea that an exchange between Lowell and Glenn Dickey on the Bonds cheating issue would be interesting. In a second post, I quoted the lead paragraph in Glenn’s Wednesday subscription article on that very issue.

    It’s now about 9.5 hours later, and there have been no additional posts cleared for display. Such big lags seem to me to detract from this blog.

    January 10th, 2013 10:12 pm

  23. CohnZohn

    htwaits, Excuse me but I have a life. I was busy all day and only got to my blog late this evening. Am I supposed to apologize for that?

    January 10th, 2013 10:55 pm

  24. htwaits

    Of course not. It is not my intent to imply that you should apologize for the structure of your blog. I understand why the structure you use in necessary. I agree with the use of that structure.

    The exchanges are what are most interesting in your blog. I was expressing the regret that long interruptions have an effect on those exchanges.

    Enjoy.

    January 11th, 2013 12:06 am

  25. Johnc

    The PED era of baseball was part of its history and it permeated baseball. Bud Selig should have a special place in the Baseball Hall of Shame

    There is no consensus criteria as to who gets into the Hall of Fame. Bonds would get in easily based on statistics alone but there is the ethical litmus test being applied by the “geniuses” that vote.

    Ray Ratto has an interesting take on the subject when he said he votes for statistics only because there was a time when baseball cheated the world by excluding black players and that is worse than taking PEDs. White players were afforded unfair advantage to fame and forturne which in effect was cheating baseball and that was a bigger ethical breach than taking stuff.

    January 11th, 2013 2:29 am

  26. Joe H.

    Lowell,

    You own NOBODY an apology.

    You did the right thing.

    January 11th, 2013 7:47 am

  27. Dan

    All this talk about Bonds, but does he even care? I’m sure on some level he does, but he’s never seemed to care what the public or sportswritters thought of him in the past.

    January 11th, 2013 8:15 am

  28. Paul

    Bonds, Mac, Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Palmeiro. None can get in. Their stories, their memorabilia, their names are already part of the Hall of Fame museum and the history of the game.

    But you can’t give them induction. How can you have a ceremony where Bonds stands shoulder to shoulder with Hank Aaron? Their numbers are fraudulent for a club that is very much about the numbers.

    They cheated, they got paid, their actions not only affected the record books, but kept other players from potentially reaching their dreams. Steroids may have kept Mac on the field in the early 90′s…how would you feel if in 1991 you were the AAA 1B in the A’s system? Careers, were changed — lives were forever changed because of their crimes.

    January 11th, 2013 8:42 am

  29. Rucrazy

    Lowell,

    I respect your vote but i was just wondering when was the first time you used steroids and baseball in the same sentence. What year was it? What I would like to know is when was the first time each writer/voter brought up this issue. It may be me but I believe it took lame as congress to bring it up.

    January 11th, 2013 8:57 am

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