Call me naive, optimistic.
But I think my fellow Baseball Writers Association of America constituents will be right in the end.
The cards have arrived. All had to be stamped by midnight on New Year’s Eve.
In the final ballot to gain entry into the baseball Hall of Fame, slugger Barry Bonds and ace Roger Clemens will both enter on their tenth and final try.
The punishment – from some writers who held their vote due to the steroid controversy attached to both superstars – will end.
The writers will finally succeed, by bringing in two of the greatest players to ever play the game.
These two are different from some of the other top players who have Hall-worthy credentials but haven’t garnered enough support to come close to entering.
Both could have been knocked out by voters long ago, knocked out long before their 10 years were up.
It happened to the thug Rafael Palmerio. Despite being only one of four players in MLB history with 3,000 hits and 500 homers, he fell from the ballot in his fourth year after scoring less than five percent of the vote.
Palmerio, suspended from the MLB for failing a drug test, went from 11.0 percent of the vote in 2011 to just 4.4 percent in 2014.
In the case of thug Mark McGwire, who would have gotten in easily had it not been for steroid use, something he dealt with in 2010 – in his final ballot on his tenth attempt in 2016, he finished with just 12.3 percent of the vote. McGwire has never been nominated in more than 23.7% of the vote since he first became eligible in 2007.
On the other hand, Bonds and Clemens had solid, solid numbers from the jump that continued to rise year after year.
And this is for good reason. The Hall would not seem complete, or right, without these two.
Bonds, arguably the biggest hitter we’ve ever seen and the MLB’s king of home runs, and Clemens, arguably the greatest right-wing pitcher we’ve ever seen and owner of seven record-breaking Cy Young awards, weren’t turned down by voters.
Think about it. If there had been no support for either of them, their percentage of votes would have been as low from the start as was the case with Sammy Sosa (just 13.9% last year). And it would indicate that they had no chance of going to Cooperstown.
Better still, their numbers would not have increased over the years as in the previous four rounds of voting.
Here’s a look:
The story of the writers of rallies to vote for players on their latest attempt is well documented. Enter Larry Walker in the 2020 class. In his 10th and final attempt, Walker garnered 76.6 percent of the vote, a 22 percent increase over 2019. It was the largest increase of any player in his final year of eligibility in 65 years old.
I see this happening for both Bonds and Clemens.
You can’t tell the history of baseball without these two. Plus, all of their numbers and prizes matter. They have not been stripped of anything.
And the truth remains, Bonds and Clemens never tested positive for PED or were suspended from play for getting caught.
That’s why the newcomers to the ballot – Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz – will be injured. They easily have the numbers, but A-Rod was suspended from the game for PED use and Big Papi reportedly tested positive for the stuff.
Difficult to blame the writers in case the players have clearly been eliminated.
And if all the players of the steroid era had been tested and only Bond and Clemens came back dirty, there would be a real reason to exclude them from the Hall.
But the water is muddy. That being the case, the numbers should be taken at face value.
Also, and more importantly, there are other players who are linked to PEDs or who are said to have used things that were voted on by the same writers while keeping Bond and Clemens out. Enter Mike Piazza, Pudge Rodriguez, and Jeff Bagwell.
I have voted for Bonds and Clemens for all nine years they have been on the ballot. This time we have to believe that at least 75% of the voters will finally agree.