By: Noah Wright
As another MLB Hall Of Fame ballot passes, another chance for outfielder Barry Bonds and starting pitcher Roger Clemens miss a chance for glory and immortalization in the highest form of awardment in all of baseball. However neither are missing out because they weren’t great players. Afterall, Bonds has the home run record, and highest single season home run total, and Clemens has the most Cy Young awards, more than any other pitcher to ever play in the MLB. Both are currently missing out from this prestigious accolade because of something both did in their playing careers: cheated and took performance enhancing drugs. Regardless of your thoughts and stance on this, I am here to share my thoughts and stance on these 2 not in the Hall Of Fame yet.
Throughout Barry Bonds’ career, his main claim to fame was the long ball. He hit an MLB leading 762 home runs, and 73 in 2001, the most in a single MLB season to date. Plus, he has the most MVP awards of any MLB player at 7. However, it’s undeniable that he didn’t get there the 100% natural way. I mean, just look at the growth between 1990 to 2000, and how he’s shrunk back down to size in 2018. Without the roids, I do believe that Bonds would not have won the home run title, or have the single season HR record. I will not deny that without the drugs, Bonds would not have been a great player. However, Bonds still cheated his way to becoming the most prolific power hitter of all time, and he should not deserve enshrinement for cheating his way to having the home run crown.
The other player I’m going to talk about is Roger Clemens. Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers to grace the MLB. Through 24 seasons, the right hander collected 7 Cy Young awards, a 3.12 ERA, and 3.09 FIP. His 4672 strikeouts rank third all time. However, the drugs that Clemens took helped him recover faster, and build stamina rather than help build up strength. Even if it did help add some MPH to his pitches, it still would take skill to throw it accurately. There are plenty of MLB players who throw hard, but struggle because they can’t locate it. PED’s don’t help movement to a pitch, that’s pure skill from the pitcher with his arm slot, or his grip on the ball. Some pitchers have been suspected of using banned substances while on the mound (pine-tar, vaseline, other types of creams and lotions) to get more break, but Clemens was one who was never suspected of it. I would be much more willing to give Clemens a vote over Bonds.
Sure, there may be some pitchers and batters who admitted to using foreign substances in the MLB, but most of them are from a much different era, when we didn’t have as many sources of information to find this out, and when things weren’t as public as they are now with social media, and other online platforms. Who’s to say that the voters don’t regret voting them in if they used a substance to get better movement in their pitch selection? Without the steroids, it’s very likely that Bonds would never have hit more home runs than either Hank Aaron or Babe Ruth, have had a .607 slugging %, or a .444 career OBP. Sure you can’t just take some roids and automatically become a great baseball player, but there is no doubt that the roids helped Bonds add strength and power to the point where I think that he would not have won the home run crown without them. On the other hand, Clemens, while he did take roids to recover faster, a drug can’t help you control your pitches better/locate them better, while also adding movement to breaking pitches.