Or do they care? It is taken a bit for me to get to this, but after seeing the vote totals for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds increase year after year, it’s as if a veil is slowly being dropped over the eyes of the writers who vote for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Let’s start with Clemens. Clemens could be called the poster child for the Mitchell Report that was published by Major League Baseball. It was the former pitcher who was heavily cited because of trainer Brian McNamee. Clemens denied the allegations, and he sued McNamee for defamation of character. McNamee countered. The parties battled in court into 2015, but this is important: Clemens settled with McNamee in the trial. In the story, Clemens continues his claims. Given all of the things that have happened since the report was issued by Major League Baseball, if I had a vote, I wouldn’t. There’s a reason, and we’ll get there in a bit.
Next, there’s Bonds. Two journalists from San Francisco built a devastating case against Bonds and his so-called supplier, Balco, in Game of Shadows. It is incredibly damning, for not just Bonds, but a few other San Francisco Bay-area star athletes. But the focus is on the alleged use by Bonds himself. Bonds did sue because the investigating writers allegedly obtained grand jury testimony that was leaked. He dropped the suit when the writers were indicted, but those indictments were dropped when the believed source of the leaks was held responsible. Again, the investigation and the allegations are incredibly damning as laid out in the book.
Why should neither receive a vote from the baseball writers? Because once a player falls off of the writers’ ballot, those players then head to one of the standing committees of the Hall of Fame. Both Bonds and Clemens would fall under either the Today’s Game Committee or the Modern Baseball Committee.
Both the Today’s Game Committee (1987-now) and the Modern Baseball Committee (1970-1987) has current members of the Hall of Fame, executives and media members. Let the current members of the Hall of Fame, plus those who have been around the game a long time decide. As the electorate of the Hall of Fame skews much younger – thanks to the major dailies going with younger writers and sending the veterans off to retirement, even early – the true perspective of covering the game and these players’ careers is being lost.