The Cove
Deep coverage of the Giants

Barry Bonds HOF Support Reflects Voter Confusion

Barry Bonds got 36.2 percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame, which is surprisingly high, but also reflective of how confused voters are when it comes to his candidacy

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Hall of Fame got shutout on Wednesday, with not one single player receiving the 75 percent of Baseball Writers Association of America ballot necessary to be inducted into Cooperstown.

    So, yeah, no Barry Bonds. But that's no surprise. Bonds wasn't getting in on the first ballot, not with the scrutiny being placed on guys who admitted to using or who are directly connected with using performance-enhancing drugs.

    But Bonds did get 36.2 percent of the 75 percent needed to enter Cooperstown and just like the 37.5 percent received by Roger Clemens, it's a perfect reflection of the confusion that the steroids era creates for sportswriters charged with bronzing the most dominant players in baseball history.

    The base numbers by themselves indicate confusion: Clemens and Bonds basically got exactly half of the vote needed to make it into the Hall. No one's ever been unanimous, so it's basically an admission from voters who looked at the ballot that they don't know what to do.

    And how could they?

    Bonds numbers are, well, Bondsian. No one's ever put up the offensive statistics Bonds posted over his 22-year career, and it's unlikely anyone one ever will (at least without the assistance of PEDs), although perhaps Mike Trout could give one pause on that statement.

    Baseball players can't play that well for that long and be that productive -- Bonds hit 73 homers at age 36! Clemens led baseball in ERA (1.87) at age 42! -- simply on pure talent and discipline.

    And here's what is most confusing about all of this: no one knows when Bonds and Clemens and their ilk began to use PEDs. We know that Bonds and Clemens are immense talents who were, in fact, great baseball players.

    But no one, even the sportswriters who covered them, know how much of their production was based on PEDs and how much of it was based on talent.

    Can you draw a line between Bonds numbers in Pittsburgh and his numbers in San Francisco?

    Not really: the outfielder was tracking on a HOF career with the Pirates, hitting 176 homers, stealing 251 bases and winning two MVP awards in his seven season with Pittsburgh.

    Clemens won two Cy Young Awards in his first four years in the big leagues while striking out 694 batters (an average of 174 a year and 226 per 162 games) over that span.

    These guys were all-timers from the get-go. There's no telling when they went over to the dark side. Maybe it was the outset? It seems doubtful. Maybe it was later on when age started catching up and their bodies started bulking up. That seems more logical, but who can be sure? 

    Certainly not the writers, only a third of whom believed that Bonds and Clemens were worthy of being Hall of Famers ... and that number doesn't include "statement votes" meant to point out a different attitude towards the steroids era.

    It won't be surprising if neither Bonds nor Clemens gets in. In fact, they probably won't. But we don't know for sure.

    And that was the one thing made clear with Wednesday's lack of names being inducted and the number of votes given to Bonds, Clemens and the other names associated with PEDs: no one does.