Cooperstown will always be missing something until Barry Bonds is inducted into the Hall of Fame. He is not the only extraordinary player absent from the Hall, but perhaps he is the most polarizing.
Bonds might not be a consensus choice anymore because of the choices he has made in his career. But, Cooperstown is not simply a collection of the greatest names in baseball. Cooperstown is a museum of baseball history. And there is no way baseball history can be told without mentioning the name Barry Bonds. Bonds represents all the excitement and wonder the Steroid Era brought, but also highlights the deceit and lies that seem to have corrupted the game of baseball.
Bonds’ story relates to so many others of the era. Players with the ability to play the game perfectly fine without any assistance, however the bulk of the notice goes to a couple of guys on the juice. So, to be noticed Bonds and others went to steroids.
Still, Bonds is different from the rest of those average players turned demigods. He was a first-ballot inductee before the steroids. When he was leadoff hitter for the Pittsburgh Pirates, he was a two-time MVP and the best player in the game. He stole 32 bases or more six times while leading the league in walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS+ in 1992. Plus, he finished with 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in 1990 and 1992.
Bonds then left for the Golden Gate Bridge where he won his third overall MVP and became the second player to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases. He led the league in walks four times from 1994 to 1997. Not to mention, he hit more than 34 home runs in seven straight seasons despite blowing out his elbow in 1999.
Bonds accomplished all this before he allegedly began taking steroids in 2000. Most baseball players would be content with their careers if they had Bonds’ numbers in that 14-year span.
While Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were mediocre players at best before the steroids, McGwire was only good for home runs, and had no business being called a superstar without his steroids.
At least, Sosa was just as spectacular as Bonds when he was on steroids. However, without the steroids he did not play much better than a role player. Plus, this role player was a glaring defensive liability in right field.
So, if Barry Bonds cannot be in the Hall of Fame, then those in the Hall of Fame that took amphetamines, greenies, and other secret injections should be in Hall of Fame purgatory as well.