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Jason Douglas Lewis - Even with the steroids issue, Bonds is still a baseball Hall of Famer

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Even with the steroids issue, Bonds is still a baseball Hall of Famer

There are no asterisks by Bonds’ first 14 seasons, which are Hall of Fame worthy.

Photo by Jeff Lewis

Please do not argue with the Sports Editor, it’s like sticking a needle where ever those players are sticking needles and injecting themselves with who knows what.  It’s just not a good idea.  Illustration by David G. Brown

Article originally published by the Los Angeles Sentinel. www.lasentinel.net

By Jason Lewis
Sentinel Sports Editor (2010-2013)

The government finally got their man, sort of. 

After an eight year witch hunt, Berry Bonds was finally charged with one count of obstruction of justice, while the jury was deadlocked on the other three counts against him.    

The chances of Bonds receiving any jail time are slim, and he will most likely receive six months of house arrest.  So after several years and millions of dollars spent, the most that the government will be able to do is lock him up in his mansion. 

Yes, our tax dollars well spent. 

So Bonds was found guilty on one count, and it is pretty much accepted that he took steroids.  He even admitted it, even though he claims that he did not know what he was taking.  Yeah, like that’s believable. 

Even with the steroid scandal hovering over Bonds’ head, he is still a Hall of Fame player, and if the voters go by the guidelines of any Hall of Fame, then they should put him in on the first ballot.  Voters are supposed to put their personal opinions aside and vote strictly on what the player produced on the field. 

Bonds, unlike a player such as Mark McGwire, should be in the Hall of Fame even though he took steroids.

A steroids timeline can be created for both players.  It appears that McGwire started taking the performance enhancing drugs around 1995, when his career was nearly over because of injuries and poor performance. 

It appears that Bonds started taking steroids in the very late 1990s, or the very early 2000s.  It has been said that Bonds started taking steroids because he was tired of McGwire and Sammy Sosa getting all of the accolades even though it was known within baseball that they were both on the illegal performance enhancing drugs.

Take way McGwire’s steroids using years and he is not close to making the Hall of Fame. 

McGwire was the Rookie of the Year in 1987 and was one of baseball’s premier homerun hitters until 1992.  He appeared to be on a Hall of Fame path, but a couple horrible seasons after that period, it appeared that McGwire’s career was nearly over. 

From injuries to poor play, McGwire was nearly out of the league, and he probably would have never been heard from again.  At that point he was not a Hall of Fame player.  He did not have the career numbers.

To salvage his career, McGwire turned to steroids, his career quickly turned around, and he was better than ever.  He started putting up Babe Ruth type numbers. 

In 1996, McGwire missed the first 30 games of the season, but he still hit 52 homeruns.  In 1997 he was on a tear, and he was on pace to break Roger Maris’ single season homerun record, but a trade from the Oakland A’s to the St. Louis Cardinals slowed him down a bit.  He still finished with 58 homeruns.  Then in 1998, McGwire, along with Sosa, had that magical summer when they both surpassed Maris.  McGwire finished with 70 homeruns, and Sosa with 66. 

The following season McGwire hit 65 homeruns, and then his career faded.  He played two seasons after that, hitting 32 and then 29 homeruns in limited play due to injuries. 

Take way McGwire’s 1996 through 1999 seasons, when it was clear that he was on steroids, and he is not a Hall of Fame player.  At the end of the 1995 season, he only had 277 homeruns, which is not good enough to make it into the Hall of Fame.  He hit 306 while on steroids. 

McGwire ended his career with 583 homeruns, but more than half of those were while he was on steroids.  So he should not be allowed in the Hall of Fame.

The same cannot be said for Bonds. 

From 1987 to 1999, which appears to be steroid free for Bonds, he was a Hall of Fame player.  If his career had ended after the 1999 season, he would have been a first ballot Hall of Famer and he would have also been known as one of the greatest players ever. 

Up until that point of Bonds career, he was a three-time National League MVP winner, he won eight Gold Gloves as a left fielder, and he had hit 455 homeruns.  At that time some baseball historians were saying that Bonds was one of the top 10 players ever to live.

If Bonds had never taken steroids, he would have played another six or seven seasons, each year fading a little bit.  He would have surpassed the 500-homerun mark, and he could have made a run at 600.  But even if he ended his career with 445 homeruns, he would have been a shoe in for the Hall of Fame because of the amount of homeruns he already had, plus his three MVPs and eight Gold Gloves. 

Bonds numbers took off in 2000, when he hit a career high 49 homeruns, and then in 2001, he broke McGwire’s single season homerun record by hitting 73. 

Bonds went on to surpass Hank Aaron’s career homerun record, and Bonds finished his career in 2007 with 762 homeruns.     

Taking away the steroid seasons, Bonds is a lock to be in the Hall of Fame, while McGwire would have just been a player who had a pretty good run, but due to injuries and poor play, he would have fallen well short of the Hall of Fame.

Another intriguing case is Roger Clemens.  Like Bonds, without the steroid years, he would have been in the Hall of Fame.  His numbers with the Boston Red Sox from 1984 to 1996 puts him in.  As his career was slowing down, the Red Sox traded him to the Toronto Blue Jays, and it seemed like Clemens found a fountain of youth, also known as steroids. 

Clemens once again became one of baseball’s premier pitchers, and he went on to some dominant years with the New York Yankees and Houston Rockets. 

Take away the steroid years and Clemens goes down as one of the greatest pitchers ever, so he, like Bonds, should be in the Hall of Fame. 
Clemens is still going down a similar path as Bonds, because he is up next to go to trial over lying about steroids. 

Clemens might not be as lucky as Bonds, because it seems like the case against Clemens is much stronger than against Bonds.  Bonds lied in front of a grand jury, not congress, like Clemens did.  Bonds admitted that he did take steroids, he just said that he didn’t know that it was steroids, which gave him some wiggle room.  Clemens has stated over and over that he has never taken steroids, which gives him no wiggle room at all.  

The biggest difference, Bonds’ trainer, who could have put Bonds in jail, refused to testify and spent a combined 14 months in jail because he would not.  Clemens trainer is pointing his finger right at him and he has already stated that Clemens took steroids and he has the proof. 
If anybody is going to jail over this, it is probably Clemens. 

Next up after Clemens, cyclist Lance Armstrong.  Everybody loves him for his Live Strong charity, but lets be real, there are strong indications that he was on steroids too.  But at this point, who really cares?  Let the French blow their taxpayer’s dollars on that and lets save some money on this side of the pound.

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