Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker Supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent

[CSNBY] Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent
Jessica Kleinschmidt

The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Tuesday afternoon.

And while Mariano Rivera is a shoo-in to be honored in Cooperstown in July, the big question remains: Are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens worthy of the prestigious honors?

Well, this will always be a controversial subject, but what about from someone who watched Bonds' career first-hand? Say, his manager?

Dusty Baker witnessed the greatness of Bonds as his manager for a decade, and the two were both inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

But the big kahuna of Hall of Fames weighs over Bonds like a dark cloud. That dark cloud, of course, is Bonds' link to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

"Well you know something, everyone talks about the PED use," Baker told Christopher Russo on MLB Network's High Heat on Tuesday. "I was there and I don't know, and I don't think other people know either because when I was a kid I used to say you were innocent until proven guilty. Has Barry ever been proved guilty like any of these guys? Did some of the guys get through the cracks that were guilty? I'm sure, but I mean, you look at these numbers and Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time."

We can have the "did he, didn't he," debate until Bonds and Clemens fall off the ballot of eligibility or for years to come. It won't solve anything, but there is promise for the future for fans who hope to see Bonds get in.

There are glimmers of light shining through the "cracks" of the era that, like it or not, made people talk about baseball again. Voters are supporting Bonds and Clemens more than ever before, and the two may slowly be inching their way toward a plaque. 

Will it happen? At this moment, it appears unlikely. But there's always next year, and the year after that -- and the year after that. 

Our fingers remained crossed.

For five and a half years of Bonds' prestigious career, he shared a dugout with Jeff Kent, who also holds a place on the current ballot. But most of his supporters aren't as loud since, let's be honest, we as humans get too excited when a ball goes over the fence. But Kent's steady numbers at second base, traditionally a position bereft of offense, are still worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. 

Baker was asked about the five-time All-Star and he was very pro-Kent.

"Jeff's a good guy, Jeff didn't talk, but if you could get him to talk, he would burn your ear off," Baker said. "I'm hoping he and Barry get closer if not into the Hall of Fame."

Kent is a career .290 hitter, with 2,461 hits and 377 home runs across 17 seasons. In addition to those All-Star selections, Kent earned MVP honors in 2000 and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Whether those numbers are Hall of Fame-esque is not the issue at hand. It's whether the Hall recognizes Kent's all-around abilities as a player, and it's not looking that way.

Currently, as this blog is being written, Kent holds just 17.1 percent on the ballots that have been submitted with 75 percent needed to get inducted. And he has just a few chances left as well.

But the Bonds/Clemens numbers show it's possible.

"Everyone has something in their game -- Barry didn't have the strongest throwing arm, but he got rid of the ball quickly -- there are very few players, even in the Hall of Fame that are five-tool players."

Baker said he had just finished having a conversation with Hank Aaron earlier that morning, saying all anyone is talking about with Hall discussions is centered around guys with power.

"They don't talk about the intelligence of the game, [Kent's] baseball IQ, they don't talk about what a great defensive player he was, his throwing hand," Baker said.

But those talks need to happen.

[RELATED: Voters are supporting Bonds/Clemens]

"At some point in time, these guys got to get in the Hall of Fame or it's not the complete Hall of Fame."

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