Opinion: Performance-Enhancing Drugs leaves Bonds and Clemens out of the Hall of Fame


Moorpark pitcher Lance Kinross winds up a pitch to a batter during the home game against the Bakersfield College Renegades on April 10, 2021 at Moorpark College. Photo credit: Ryan Bough

By Nathan Hafner

The Baseball Hall of Fame vote has once again come in 2022. In his first year of eligibility, David Ortiz was the only player selected with a voting percentage of 77.9%. In their final year of eligibility, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens did not receive the required 75% votes needed to be elected to the Hall.

The controversy surrounding Major League Baseball’s steroid era and performance-enhancing drugs is why Bonds and Clemens were passed over for the final time. The decision to deny both players is the right thing to do to uphold the game’s integrity.

Based solely on the lifetime stats of Bonds and Clemens, they clearly should be in the Hall of Fame. However, their use of PEDs to achieve those stats diminishes their value.

Moorpark College student and avid baseball fan, Jake Rauschenberger talked about Bonds and Clemens not being accepted into the HOF.

“It is acceptable they would not allow them in, but you should also look at what the players did for the sport,” said Rauschenberger

The stats that these players put up are truly astonishing, but at what cost. Weeks following the revival of this controversy due to the lockout, the MLB has stopped testing for steroids for the first time since the end of the steroid era.

Bonds and Clemens are not the only players with Hall-worthy resumes and have been denied the HOF. The all-time hits leader with 4,256 hits, Pete Rose, does not have a place in the Hall due to gambling. Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire were also denied in their voting window because of their use of PEDs, just like Bonds and Clemens.

Clemens has a lifetime ERA of 3.12 and 7 Cy Young awards, the most among MLB pitchers. He was shy of the 5000-strikeout mark with 4,672 strikeouts and his win-loss record with 354 wins and 184 losses in his career.

Bonds is the MLB home run record holder with 762 home runs and holds a lifetime batting average of .298, and an OPS of 1.051. Bonds sparked fear and earned respect from pitchers around the league by being intentionally walked a multitude amount of times during his historic career.

These stats say a lot about Bonds and how powerful a hitter he was. Bonds deserves a spot on the HOF from a stats performance standpoint. However, many can argue that Bond’s record should be void due to his use of PEDs.

The omission of these accomplished players comes down to the controversy of using PEDs and the advantage that it gave them on the field. MLB and the Baseball Writer’s Association of America have been stringent regarding this issue and the HOF for over 15 years. Even though these players were truly remarkable on the field, the vote continues the sentiment that honesty and integrity must stand true.

The BBWAA holds its ground that players who cheat and get a clear advantage over their opponent and fellow teammates will shun them from Baseball’s highest achievement. A player that cheats cannot and should not be rewarded to uphold the integrity of Baseball.

With many of these famous names popping up, it begs the question of whether people want to support a player who cheats as a sports fan or should be rewarded for it. While many argue that these players should be in the Hall of Fame, many overlook one argument.

While the stats of these players are outstanding, people overlook baseball as a whole. They see it only as a sport when it is also a huge business. With players like Clemens and Bonds in the league having a clear advantage over their peers and opponents, many players throughout the league dealt with hardships and many lost opportunities and jobs.

Former independent league pitcher and a Ventura native, Nick Minot also talked about an interesting perspective.

“During the Steroid Era, it made baseball evolve and challenge players to be better. If you didn’t want to cheat, then you had to be better”.

Similar to the steroid era, others might have the same argument with the 2017 Houston Astros in a few years. Astros such as Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Justin Verlander will likely have hall-worthy resumes. They will face resistance from the baseball writers due to the cheating scandal.

The Astros cheating is an example of having a clear advantage in a sporting event that leads to players being sent down to the minor leagues and ultimately never making it back to the big leagues. Mike Bolsinger, former pitcher of Blue Jays was one sadly one of these players.

Fortunately, some players, like Danny Farquhar of the White Sox and Anthony Bass, who was a former Ranger, made a comeback to the big leagues. Farquhar was one of the first to notice the cheating system.

When the news first broke out about the Astros cheating scandal, Farquhar, Bass and Bolsinger were among many players who spoke out on the issue and the clear advantage the Astros had. Many can see the same with many players from the steroid era who played the game the right way and yet lost opportunities, jobs and money due to players such as Clemens and Bonds. These men represent a major issue in the game of baseball.

Liam Flynn, a pitcher for the Moorpark Raiders gave his thoughts on the voting and expressed his feelings towards the Astros cheating scandal.

“I think that guys like Bonds should be in the Hall of fame, especially since there are other players that have made it who have been accused of using PEDs. Cheating and steroids shouldn’t have a place in the game, but it is naive to think it doesn’t happen in today’s game,” said Flynn. “Just look at the Astros for example. Overall, MLB’s view on cheating is too inconsistent.”

The baseball writers have held firm on this issue through the steroid era. The HOF has had this stance for many years and it should be enforced to protect the game people love no matter what form of cheating.

Freshman catcher Robert Rehman slides into second base in an attempt to avoid the double play in the first game of Moorpark's home doubleheader versus Bakersfield College on May 8, 2021.
Freshman catcher Robert Rehman slides into second base in an attempt to avoid the double play in the first game of Moorpark’s home doubleheader versus Bakersfield College on May 8, 2021. Photo credit: Danny Stipanovich

The baseball writers must be more stringent than they are already, and they may have to revisit some players who have been inducted in the past. People must understand that they were inducted when testing was not available, and the writers should review their place in the Hall.

When it comes to baseball, I truly believe players should be judged not only on their performance, but also on their character. I think baseball writers are correct because it has kept this precedent that proven steroid users have not been elected to the Hall of Fame from the steroid era.

It is truly crazy that the MLB all-time home run leader, the all-time leader in Cy Young awards and the all-time leader in hits are all not in the HOF. Baseball fans could pick which side of the argument they believe, but understandably, the HOF will continue and must keep this stance.

Fans can even look through the sport’s history dating back to the 1919 Black Sox cheating scandal. On that team, there is one notable name, Shoeless Joe Jackson. Jackson had a lifetime batting average of .336. That stat alone shows why he should be in the Hall of Fame, but the team threw the World Series and banned for life once again iterates the notion that if players cheat in Baseball, they lose the opportunity to be immortalized and reach Baseball’s highest award in being in the HOF.

The stats stand alone and show that these individuals should be in the HOF. On the other hand, fans of baseball must take the whole picture of the player by the choices and the causes of their actions. As a baseball fan, it is a shame that these individuals may never see the HOF, but at the same time, cheating should not be condoned in any sense.

I also believe that this argument can be a learning lesson for many other individuals and young fans looking up to their heroes. If others abuse the game, it will come back to haunt them and it shows how baseball is America’s pastime.

It is the sense of morality and how important the framework of the game of baseball relates to everyday life. If people try to cut corners and cheat, yes, they may win in the short term, but it will not work out in the long term, such as in the case of Clemens and bonds.