Every year since they entered the ballot, people have argued more about whether or not Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens belong in Baseball’s Hall of Fame more than any other players. Bonds and Clemens are arguably the two best players in fifty years, however what they accomplished was hardly legitimate. although they both set a number of records that seem unreachable, they also did it with the help of performance enhancing drugs(PED’s). This has left the Baseball Writers Association of America with a. tough decision of whether or not their careers deserve that reward. Although they had nearly no traction at the beginning, they have steadily climbed every year, and now, in their seventh year of eligibility, they have garnered approximately 60% of the vote. This is widely due to a growing number of rationalizations on why they actually belong in, however in the end they really are just that; rationalizations.
One of the most common phrases brought up in this discussion is “they were Hall of Famers before they took any PED’s, so they should be rewarded for that.” Yes, the first half of that argument is true. Both Bonds and Clemens were easily hall of famers before they are believed to have begun juicing. Still, that should not be enough to win votes. The fact that they were great players on their own should not justify the means that they went to in order to become better. The most popular counter to this argument would be Pete Rose. Having more hits than any other player wasn’t enough to put him in the Hall of Fame after he gambled, so why should Bonds’ and Clemens’ careers be any different with an equally serious crime. Being good at baseball shouldn’t excuse them from being punished in the same way everyone else was.
Similar to the idea that they should be recognized for what they accomplished without steroids, some also believe that what they did while on them should be enough as well. What they are saying is that it isn’t fair that the player with the most home runs or the one with the most Cy Young awards are both not in the Hall of Fame. Again, past events in history help to counter this idea. When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, he received an asterisk because he played in more games the tRuth did. If Maris is penalized for simply having more time, than the punishment for actually cheating to achieve a record should be far more severe. Yes, the players with those records are not in the Hall. However, with the means they went to in order to achieve those, should we even acknowledge their achievements to begin with. While erasing them from history would not be an appropriate response, rewarding them for cheating certainly isn't either. While their records should not be forgotten, they also should not be received with the highest honor baseball has to offer.
The arguably most common argument does not actually involve either Bonds or Clemens, however it is the idea that we already have unknowingly elected someone who used PED’s already. This argument is probably true. Baseball does not have affective drug testing, and as a result there certainly have been several who have cheated without being caught, enough even that it doesn’t seem at all unlikely that one would have made it to the Hall of Fame. However, electing someone who cheated because we probably have already accidentally done so previously is not a good enough reason to elect Bonds and Clemens. You should not reward someone who you KNOW cheated because you have already elected someone who you THINK cheated. There is a huge discretion between mistakenly electing someone who committed this offense versus knowingly doing it. Just because someone may or may not have gotten away with it does not justify allowing people who didn’t get away with it the same privileges. If it becomes found out later that someone in the Hall did in fact cheat, it would make more sense to in some way punish him rather than lower the standards for everyone else.
Bonds and Clemens should not be in the Hall of Fame. By taking PED’s, they violated the game. They decided that it was more important to play well then it was to play fair. It is too late to punish them as players, but not to do so during their post-career lives. To elect them would be to say that it is okay to cheat as long as you do so better than everyone else. This is not the mentality that belongs in a professional environment, especially one that so strongly caters to younger minds. Plus, it is not at all the players that did not cheat to give the greatest award in the sport to players who did. Despite the rationalizations that have been presented by so many writers, there honestly is no justification for electing these people who so fully disgraced the game of baseball.