Three strikes and you are out!
Should players lose their eligibility for the National Baseball Hall of Fame for taking performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs)?
In the past few weeks, numerous players in their final year of eligibility to make the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York were denied access. The most notable of these players is Barry Bonds, who just so happens to hold the record for the most career home runs of all time (762). This year, Bonds tallied in 66-percent of votes, his highest percentage since qualifying for enshrinement in 2013. Unfortunately for Bonds, he needed just 35 more of the 394 ballots submitted to reach the necessary percentage. In fact, of this year’s contenders, the only player that was voted in successfully was David Ortiz. Understandably, the main reason that Bonds has never been voted into the hall of fame despite being one the greatest players of all time, and certainly better than Ortiz, is because at one point in his career he took performance-enhancing drugs.
Many are divided on if Bonds should be penalized for his use of PEDs, as there have been other instances of players still making the Hall of Fame regardless of the substances they took during their career. For the sake of this article, however, we will be focusing on why players should still be able to make it to Cooperstown regardless of whether or not they took steroids during their careers.
To start, steroids do not even give a player the type of advantage that so many people think they do in baseball. The most fundamental and basic factor of a good hitter is one’s ability to identify a pitcher’s pitch and its rotation. As a result, the added strength that comes along with steroid use will serve as no aid to being able to make contact with a 99 mile-per-hour fastball. In the case of Bonds in particular, he did not need any help with this to begin with. Take his junior season of college for example. Even when he was not taking steroids, Bonds was an elite presence in the batter’s box. Out of just 62 games, he accumulated an outstanding 91 hits, 23 home runs and 99 runs-batted-in. Although Bonds’ professional home run count was surely influenced by steroids, there is no denying his greatness nonetheless.
Additionally, it’s not like Bonds would be the only PED user in the Hall of Fame if he were to be inducted. According to Britannica, “there are already users in the Hall of Fame,” meaning that the purpose of the Hall is to honor the best baseball players, steroid use or not.
Alongside fans, many former and current players are also frustrated with this year’s Hall of Fame results. New York Mets pitcher Marcus Stroman tweeted, “Who cares about validations from a bunch of outdated writers. Major League Baseball has a prehistoric mindset with all endeavors, Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer. Everyone who has actually gone out on that field and grinded at the big-league level would agree.”
Apparently, that starts with the only person that did get voted into the Hall of Fame this year, David Ortiz. “Hopefully he gets in, he is the best player of all time,” Ortiz told TMZ Sports.
Finally, from a statistical standpoint, there is absolutely no reason for Bonds not to join Ortiz in Cooperstown. Ortiz earned his distinction through three World Series titles, a World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, seven Silver Sluggers, and 10 All-Star selections. Yet, even these outrageous accolades do not quite compare to Bonds, who garnered seven MVPs, 12 Silver Sluggers, eight Gold Gloves, two batting titles and 14 All-Star nods. Furthermore, no one in baseball history has hit more home runs (762) or been walked more (2558). Yes, you know a hitter is good when pitchers will not even throw a strike to them in over two thousand at-bats.
In summary, there is no reason why Barry Bonds should be subject to unfair treatment in regard to becoming a Hall of Famer, especially being the caliber player that he was. Yes, he took steroids, but so did so many other players at the time, and Bonds more than anyone deserves to be remembered in Cooperstown for everything else that he accomplished.