Does Barry Bonds Deserve Hall of Fame Induction?

The 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions took place over the last weekend in July in Cooperstown, NY. These inductions often spark debate over who continues to be left out. Names like Roger Clemens, and Barry Bonds often come up. Bonds is struggling to get inducted despite being the home run king, as he holds the season and career home run records. Despite his connections to PED usage, and his reputation as a moody guy, does Barry Bonds deserve induction into the Hall of Fame?

This writer says no for reasons that I’ll expand on later in this article. First, though, IBonds deserves recognize the fact that Bonds is the home run king. With or without PEDs, it takes a high level of skill to make contact with a 90+ MPH fastball. As of today, Bonds is only one of three players ever to hit more than 700 home runs in his career. He’s one of two players to ever hit 70 home runs in a season. On top of that, he accumulated multiple MVP awards, batting titles, and Gold Gloves. So no one can say he’s not qualified for the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t mean he belongs there though.

Does Bonds Deserve More Consideration? His Past Says No.

Here’s my beef with Bonds. While it’s quite the feat that he hit 762 home runs in his career, the question I keep asking is “So what?” Were his home runs more significant than Babe Ruth or Hank Aaron’s? Ruth’s home runs brought people back to the ballpark in the wake of the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Aaron showed a tremendous amount of perseverance in the fact of racial adversity while he chased Ruth’s record. What did Bonds’ home run chase do? You can argue that he broke Aaron’s record in the face of mounting criticism of his used of PEDs, but Bonds brought that criticism on himself. In my opinion, numbers aside, the inability to answer that question leaves a gaping hole in the argument to induct Bonds into the Hall of Fame.

The other issue I have with Bonds is his inability to be a team player. According to ESPN, during his time on the baseball team at Arizona State, Bonds was so despised by his teammates that all but two voted to kick him off the team after numerous altercations. Then there’s the arrogance Bonds displayed during his years with the Pittsburg Pirates and San Francisco Giants where fans, media, and even his teammates harbored a strong dislike for him. In my view, it reflects his inability to appreciate all those who contribute to the game. For Bonds, it was all about him.

Does Bonds Deserve To Be In The Hall? No, But Not Because Of PEDs

Bonds’ alleged PED use doesn’t turn me off to Bonds. In fact, last year I wrote an article arguing that Roger Clemens should be inducted into the Hall of Fame. As many know, Clemens allegedly used PEDs. Clemens was a fierce competitor too.

It is the idea that Bonds played in a world separate from one that contributes significance and meaning to the game that makes me argue against his induction. In Bonds’ world, all he cared about was accumulating as many homers as possible. It’s as if he cared about nothing other than personal gain. And for what? It’s clear he didn’t care about being a team player. So what was Bonds trying to accomplish?

For me, Bonds’ numbers aren’t enough to merit induction. To me, it’s not about the numbers, it’s about how the numbers impacted and contributed to the game. In my view, Bonds’ numbers were nothing more than self-serving efforts to quell his inner demons.

Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron are worth their weight in gold. In my view, Bonds is worth his weight in monopoly money. Bonds might have the numbers, but it’s not enough to buy his way into the Hall.

Retired Red Sox Who Should Be in Cooperstown

Baseball fans from all walks of life love to debate which of their favorite non-Hall of Fame players should be enshrined in Cooperstown. Dodger fans want to see Gil Hodges and Maury Wills inducted. Mets fans want to see Davey Johnson in the Hall of Fame. Fans of the Negro Leagues want Buck O’Neil inducted for his contributions to baseball. But which  retired Red Sox players should be inducted in the Hall of Fame who haven’t made it in yet? Let’s take a look at the top three who the BBWAA voters have slighted over the years.

Retired Red Sox Star Pitcher Luis Tiant

There’s probably no one more deserving to be in the Hall of Fame than Luis Tiant. He wonretired red sox 229 games throughout his career. In his 1964 Major League debut against the New York Yankees, Tiant allowed only four hits (all singles). He also struck out eleven in the 3-0 debut shutout. Overall, he was a three-time All-Star and two-time ERA leader with 49 career shutouts. But his masterful performance in the 1975 World Series is what Red Sox fans remember him best for going 2-0, one of which was a shutout against the Reds. His numbers are better than many Hall of Fame pitchers and for that he should be a Hall of Famer.

Red Red Sox Star Outfielder Dwight Evans

His omission from Cooperstown is one of the more glaring mistakes the BBWAA has made in the last thirty years. Evans was a three-time All-Star, an eight-time Gold Glove winner, and a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner during his twenty-year career. He also accumulated over 2400 hits and slugged 385 home runs. His defense alone should have gotten serious consideration. The fact that was an offensive powerhouse too is why fans feel his absence in Cooperstown.

Retired Red Sox Star Infielder Johnny Pesky

I’ll admit that arguing that Pesky should be inducted is a little tougher than Tiant and Evans’ calls for induction. Pesky only played between 1942-1954. Pesky served three of those years in the military during World War II. He barely had any power either; he only hit 17 home runs in his career. But he accumulated 620 hits in his first three seasons in the Majors with 205, 208, and 207 hits, respectively. He coached some of the greatest Red Sox players in history, including Carl Yastrzemski, Jim Rice, Fred Lynn, and Johnny Damon. His hitting, coaching abilities, and legendary status in Boston, while not the strongest case for induction, make it hard to ignore him.

Red Sox Outfielder Fred Lynn

Lynn didn’t play for the Red Sox for his entire career. He did, however, achieve some of his best numbers while in Boston. Lynn won both the MVP, Rookie of the Year Awards in 1975, while also collecting a Gold Glove and making an All-Star appearance. Overall, he was a nine-time All-Star who hit 306 home runs during his seventeen-year career. While his numbers don’t quite rival those in the Hall of Fame, his rookie year accomplishments alone should have gotten him more consideration.

Could the Baseball Hall of Fame Remove an Inductee?

In the wake of the recent decision to change the name of Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street, writers like me are wondering if the National Baseball Hall of Fame will follow a similar path. Hall of Famer Cap Anson, the first player to reach 3,000 hits (though that’s debatable), is largely responsible for segregation in baseball. Then there’s Hall of Famer George Weiss, who was general manager for the New York Yankees and New York Mets. According to the book Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee, Weiss allegedly once said out loud at a cocktail party that he “would never allow a black man to wear a Yankee uniform.” So it is possible that we might see the Hall of Fame remove inductees like Anson and Weiss? The short answer is no.

This notion is difficult to consider. On one hand, no one wants racists in the Hall of Fame.hall of fame remove On the other hand, do we risk erasing history? Many writers say no. “…without them we wouldn’t be able to understand history,” says baseball writer Don Tincher. “I’m not a big fan of destroying the past even if we don’t like it. We need to use things like that to teach others.”

“I think the HOF should simply be based on merit, how they played and performed in the game,” says Erik Sherman, author of Davey Johnson: My Wild Ride in Baseball and Beyond. “If we start going down a path of who was a model citizen and who was not, it becomes a slippery slope.”

It’s safe to assume that removing inductees from the Baseball Hall of Fame would quickly become a catastrophe. The Hall of Fame could remove Anson and Weiss. However, calls for the removal of other players would make all the inductees vulnerable, making the Hall of Fame a shrine of questionable morals instead of a shrine to baseball talent.

We Won’t See the Hall of Fame Remove Controversial Inductees, but The BBWAA Will Keep them Out

We likely won’t see the Hall of Fame remove inductees anytime soon. It’s fair to say though that there’s a few eligible former players who won’t make it in because of their inflammatory views and ideas. In the summer of 2015, Curt Schilling sent a tweet equating Muslim extremists with Nazi Germany. Schilling, a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series Champion, received 45% of the vote in 2016, thirty points fewer than needed for induction. While he received 51.2% this year, one cannot deny that Schilling’s inflammatory comments are hurting his chances for induction.

In my opinion, Schilling’s inability to get enough votes for induction reflects the Baseball Writers Association of America’s (BBWAA) belief that there is no more room for players with controversial views in the Hall of Fame. Many make the valid argument that consideration for induction should rely solely on their numbers and actions on the field. But where do you draw the line?

I’m not calling Schilling a bigot; I really don’t think he is. But it’s hard to look past his comments. Major League Baseball wants to promote and celebrate diversity and inclusion. With that said, I can’t see someone like Schilling getting inducted. The MLB doesn’t really have a say in who gets inducted each year. However, it’s clear that the induction of players whose views contradict Major League Baseball’s policy on diversity and inclusion could become a can of worms that the Hall of Fame and the MLB don’t want to open.

The Baseball Hall of Fame probably won’t go the way the City of Boston did with renaming Yawkey Way. It’s also unlikely we’ll see the Hall of Fame remove any players. But that doesn’t mean that the BBWAA and the Veterans Committee won’t scrutinize future candidates. Their opinions, regardless of whether they have anything to do with baseball or not, shouldn’t parallel someone like George Weiss’.

Which Active Red Sox Player Has the Best Chance at Cooperstown?

Cooperstown, New York remains as baseball’s hallowed grounds. It is there whereCooperstown past legends are forever remembered within the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This year, the Boston Red Sox are off to a historic start. Their roster is filled with many talented players. But which of those players has the best chance at going to Cooperstown and joining these hallowed few?

 

 

Craig Kimbrel

Earlier this month, Kimbrel became the youngest closer ever to reach 300 saves. He was also the NL leader in saves from 2011-2014 before joining the Red Sox in 2016. Throughout his entire career as a closer, he has recorded at least 30 saves in each season. In 2011, he was the NL Rookie of the Year and is a six-time all-star, including last season in which he had a 1.43 ERA and a 0.68 WHIP. The only active closers with more saves are Huston Street, Fernando Rodney, and Francisco Rodriguez, all of which are significantly older than Kimbrel. When all is said and done, I believe Craig Kimbrel will join Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman, and Dennis Eckersley as the best to ever close.

Mookie Betts

Of any player on the Red Sox in the last decade, Betts has the highest ceiling. The combination of his power, speed, and defensive prowess have put him in the upper echelon of players in today’s game as well as team history. This season he is currently tied for first in home runs, second in average, second in doubles, first in slugging, and first in OPS league-wide. At age 25, Betts likely still has at least ten years of highly-productive seasons left. At the end of his career, Betts will have a good shot at making it to the Hall.

Chris Sale

Few left-handed pitchers have been as dominant in their early careers as Chris Sale.  Among active pitchers, he trails only Clayton Kershaw in career ERA, opponent average, and WHIP. That being said, Kershaw has 29 more career starts than Sale and is slightly older. His win-loss record is 95-59, which is lower than his contemporaries, however he was a part of some poor Chicago White Sox teams. While not even 30, I believe Sale still has the ability for 3-5 more dominant years and 7-9 more strong seasons. To make his way to Cooperstown, he’ll need to avoid serious injury and stay on competitive teams.

Dustin Pedroia

Of any Red Sox, Pedroia is the most intriguing to talk about in terms of Hall of Fame prospects. There is no question that he has remained the heart and soul of this franchise throughout his career, no matter the circumstance. However, he has begun to show signs of physical wearing down via frequent injuries, especially in the second half of his career. That being said, he has never batted lower than .278 in a season and has never committed more than six errors in a season. He is a 4-time Gold Glove winner, 4-time All-Star, a 2008 MVP, and the only Red Sox player other than Kimbrel to win Rookie of the Year. He will forever be remembered as the catalyst for the team in this era.

Cooperstown Breakdown

So who has the best chance of these four? The easy answer is that it depends. I think the best way of looking at Hall of Fame prospects is three-pronged. The first is did they win during their careers; was their impact big enough to yield pennants and championships. Between the four, only Pedroia has a World Series ring. However, all four have been a part of winning teams, even though they’re all in different parts of their careers.

The second, and most obvious, is their career numbers and stats. Frankly, I would not have written this article if it weren’t apparent that these guys had the accolades to be in the conversation.

That leads me to the last and most intriguing factor: their era and its comparables. In other words, what was the climate of baseball at their respective position in terms of character, performance, and competition? For Sale, he’s had Kershaw and Madison Baumgarner, as well as Justin Verlander. For Kimbrel, he entered the league as Rivera and Hoffman were leaving. Betts will always have the Mike Trout and Bryce Harper comparison on his back. Pedroia’s main counterpart throughout his career was Ian Kinsler, but Kinsler never really won anything. His other main comparison was always Robbie Cano, but Cano’s latest PED scandal will likely dampen his reputation a bit.

Given all these variables, I believe that Kimbrel has the best chance because there are few closers in his era to compare him to besides Aroldis Chapman, who has character problems of his own. If Betts and Sale can continue dominating and avoid the pitfalls of free agency, they could make it there too. Should Pedroia finish strong like I expect, he’ll always have my support too.

Show me your thoughts!

I ran a Twitter with a similar question last week, and this is what I gathered. Feel free to tweet with your thoughts or leave comments below. 

The Red Sox Owe Jim Rice More Respect

Jim Rice played his entire career with the Boston Red Sox from 1974 to 1989. He was an 8-time All-Star and American League MVP in 1978. After years of waiting, Rice finally received induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 in his final year of eligibility. Some argue that Rice isn’t a Hall of Famer because his numbers fall just below the unofficial standard. Others argue Rice’s induction took too long and his numbers prove his worth. Regardless of what you might think, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice more respect, especially after retiring so many other numbers in the last three years.

The Red Sox used to have three rules to retire a number. 1) Play ten years with the RedRed Sox Owe Jim Rice Sox. 2) Retire as a Red Sox player. 3) Be in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Jim Rice is one of the few players who actually fulfilled all three requirements. In fact, he was the last to fulfill all those requirements. Since then they’ve retired Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz’s jersey numbers. None of those three players fulfilled the requirements.

I’m not saying that there’s a retired number that doesn’t belong up there. But why did Jim Rice have to wait so long while other players got ushered to the front of the line? Few other players hustled harder than Rice did. It’s easy to look at his numbers and say that they’re good but not great. But it’s impossible to quantify Rice’s contributions to the game. He helped lead the Red Sox to the World Series in 1975 (an injury kept him out of play) and also in 1986. Additionally, Rice is one of only two players to lead the American League in both triples and home runs in one season. On top of that, he is still the only player who has ever led the majors in triples, home runs and RBIs in the same season.

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice An Apology

The fact that Jim Rice waited so long to see his number retired while others didn’t is becoming the white elephant in the room. While you can argue that players like Ted Williams and Joe Cronin waited too, the Red Sox didn’t actually start retiring numbers until 1984, and their numbers were among the first to get retired.

Jim Rice paid his dues. He waited patiently not only to see his number retired, but to get inducted into the Hall of Fame. The Red Sox insulted the man by making him jump hoops. They took those hoops away though from Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, and David Ortiz. Boggs jumped ship to the Evil Empire. He even had the nerve to wear his Yankee World Series ring to his ceremony!

Red Sox Owe Jim Rice A Statue Too

At the very least, the Red Sox could erect a statue for Jim Rice. Or they could name something in Fenway after him. No matter what, the Red Sox owe Jim Rice something to make up for the way they shafted him. He stayed loyal to Boston when he could have left for more money.

Ken Burns Owes Ty Cobb’s Family a Redo

Ken Burns’ Baseball first premiered on PBS in the fall of 1994. For many, it marked their birth for the love of the game. The documentary, however, is not without flaws. Burns’ portrayal of some ballplayers angered historians. The worst was his portrayal of Ty Cobb, who he painted as a racist and self-centered ballplayer. In light of an insightful biography debunking many of the myths surrounding Cobb, Ken Burns owes it to Cobb’s legacy to revise the episode containing flawed information.

Released in 2015, Charles Leerhsen’s Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty was met with praise.Ken burns owes Allen Barra of The Boston Globe called it “a major reconsideration of a reputation unfairly maligned for decades.” What makes Leerhsen’s biography strong is its detail to accuracy and corrections. Baseball fans were abhorred by Cobb when they saw in Burns’ documentary. Burns’ documentary claimed that Cobb assaulted blacks, bullied his teammates, and abused his wife and children. These inaccurate claims stemmed from a biography released in 1994 called Cobb: A Biography. Its author, Al Stump, worked as Cobb’s ghost writer for his autobiography before Cobb’s death in 1961. Initially, Stump’s biography gave readers a look into Cobb’s turbulent life and quickly became a bestseller. Since Stump’s death in 1995, however, historians have discovered a number of issues with the book. Stump allegedly fabricated details to create interest and drive up sales.

Among the biggest inaccuracies is that Cobb opposed integration. In fact, he championed it. He said the Giants’ Willie Mays was the only ballplayer he’d pay money to see play. Additionally, Cobb likely didn’t sharpen his spikes to intimidate opposing players. These myths were born out of Ken Burns’ Baseball. However, it’s not fair to fault Burns. Like many baseball fans at the time, he trusted Stump’s biography and used it as a basis for the documentary. In fact, one baseball expert recently stated he would welcome the opportunity to explain himself. According to a Facebook message posted by Ty’s granddaughter, Cindy Cobb, writer Daniel Okrent, who initially commented on Cobb for the documentary, wrote that Leehrsen’s 2015 biography of Cobb “led me to re-assess my view of Cobb, and if Burns ever does an update, I’ll insist on the opportunity to say so!”

Ken Burns Owes It To Cobb’s Family To Set the Record Straight

In 2010, Ken Burns released “The Tenth Inning” as the next chapter in the series. After the Cubs won the 2016 World Series, Burns hinted he might add their historic win to the next chapter. If Burns were to create another chapter, it would be the perfect time to address the inaccuracies of “The Third Inning” that include the inaccurate details about Cobb. It is only fair to Cobb’s legacy and surviving family members.

Ken Burns owes it to Cobb’s family to revise his documentary to reflect newfound information.