Bonds, Clemens lack integrity needed for Hall
No offense to John Thorn, recently named the official historian of Major League Baseball, but I have a different take on whether Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens will be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Contrary to what Thorn says, neither Bonds nor Clemens is the 21st century version of Gaylord Perry or Whitey Ford when it comes to cheating one's way into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Which means, unlike Perry and Ford, neither Bonds nor Clemens ever will have bronzed plaques in Cooperstown.
Well, not if I can help it, and I'm among the Hall of Fame voters who will have a say in the matter.
Thorn told USA Today this week that Bonds and Clemens are similar to Perry and Ford, because, "Stretching the bounds of the rules is something we admire. ... We call it clever. But then one day, you make a mistake and you're no longer clever. You're now borderline criminal.
Yeah. I hear you, Mr. Thorn, but it's like this: Perry and Ford became infamous for altering baseballs through various means before they hurled them, but Bonds and Clemens are guilty of much worse. For one, they lied to federal investigators, and the only thing that will get you to the slammer faster than that is taking the Feds' money -- you know, by tax evasion.
For another, Bonds and Clemens used performance-enhancing drugs to the extent that, Bonds, as a slugger, did the equivalent of playing with an aluminum bat while his peers used wooden ones. Then you had Clemens, as a pitcher, resembling Danny Almonte, the fraud of a Little Leaguer, who lied about his age while throwing blurs on the mound past his competition that was at least two years younger.
I'm speaking as a strict constructionist regarding the Hall of Fame rules, and it says on my ballot every December that you must consider the "integrity" and the "character" of the candidates.
That leaves Bonds and Clemens out.
I can't do anything about Perry and Ford, because they already are in Cooperstown. The same goes for others who displayed questionable ethics during their playing careers. They range from the Babe and the Mick, who enjoyed more than just sweet tea on occasion, to Ty Cobb, who never was a candidate for Sunday School Teacher of the Year at any church.
Fortunately, for those guys, I didn't begin voting for Hall of Famers until soon after Perry slipped through in 1991.
Back then, Bonds won the second of his eight Gold Gloves, and Clemens made the fourth of his 11 trips to the All-Star Game. Not only that, both players had captured his league's Most Valuable Player award by then, and Bonds was on his way to seven of them.
Speaking of seven, Clemens spent that 1991 season winning the third of his seven Cy Young Awards.
The point is, Bonds and Clemens were considered free of PEDs back then, but they still were dominant. So their supporters say Bonds and Clemens were Hall of Famers even before they began juicing, which their supporters say automatically qualifies them for Cooperstown.
In other words, their supporters are loose constructionists when it comes to those Hall of Fame rules.
The hardliners will prevail, though.
You have the greatest slugger of his time facing the possibility of incarceration courtesy of four counts of perjury and one count of obstruction of justice. That's splashy enough, but there is more, beginning and ending with the crazy acts under this expanding big top.
For instance: By the close of the Bonds trial, the jurors are expected to have heard from witnesses such as longtime Giants clubhouse guy Mike Murphy, among the world's most loyal men. He is typical of many in his profession in that he frequently interacts with players, coaches and managers during their private and trying moments. Which means they love Murphy, because he has perfected the lost art of seeing no evil, hearing no evil and speaking no evil.
Now, with everybody watching and listening, prosecutors want Murphy to testify about the growth of Bonds' head size over the years since doctors contend that such a thing is indicative of steroid use.
Turn up the circus music.
There also is Kathy Hoskins, Bonds' ex-personal assistant, who claims she saw Bonds trainer Greg Anderson inject Bonds in the tummy.
Mostly, when it comes to the outrageous, there is Kimberly Bell, Bonds' former mistress who -- shall we say -- wasn't wearing a Giants uniform when she posed for an edition of Playboy magazine. Until the judge ruled otherwise a few days ago, that photo of Bell was among things the prosecution wanted the jury to experience.
The jury still will hear a secret tape recording of Bonds talking to Bell about stuff not relating to, say, John Smoltz's fastball. And Bell also is slated to discuss Bonds' private parts.
It's that kind of trial.
It will be the same kind of trial when Clemens tries to convince his set of jurors that he threw that hard for so long and so well just by eating all of his vegetables.
Terence Moore is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.