It's not often that Barry Bonds decides to give candid interviews, as he has largely stayed away from the media spotlight whenever possible since MLB blackballed him after his retirement in 2007.
This is what made Barry Bloom's interview with baseball's all-time home run king so refreshing. Bonds touched on numerous topics in this interview, ranging from how his career ended (he thought he had an additional year left in him) to his legal troubles (still in appeal of a felony charge for obstruction of justice) to the prospect of future employment with the San Francisco Giants as a hitting instructor. It is a fascinating glimpse into the world of Barry Bonds that is not often portrayed in the national media.
Oh, and Barry Bonds thinks that he belongs in the Hall of Fame. In fact, there is not a doubt in his mind about it.
And he is right.
Barry Bonds' list of accomplishments speaks for itself: He's baseball's all-time leader in home runs and walks; won a record seven MVPs, 12 Silver Sluggers, and eight Gold Gloves; is the only player in baseball history with both 500 home runs and 500 steals (as well as the only 400-400 member); and rates as the second-most valuable position player in the history of baseball, according to Baseball-Reference's calculation. The only player ahead of him? A guy by the name of Babe Ruth.
Really, the only thing missing from the list of accomplishments is a World Series ring. Had he reached that goal (he got close in 2002), Bonds would probably have the most complete Hall of Fame resume in the history of baseball.
But the debate around Bonds and the Hall of Fame does not center around accomplishments on the field. Instead, all of the focus is on his activities away from the ballpark, and the PED usage that allegedly turned Bonds into the greatest hitter baseball has ever seen.
During his trial for perjury, Bonds admitted to usage of the cream and the clear, though he claims that he did so without knowing that they were a steroid and masking agent. Further alleged steroid usage was exposed in the bestselling book Game of Shadows, which was put together in the wake of the federal government's investigation of the BALCO sports nutrition center.
For some, Bonds' connection to PEDs resulted in his numbers being tainted and should disqualify him from being in the Hall of Fame. While there were no testing procedures or established punishments for usage during much of Bonds' career, steroids had been officially banned by MLB in a 1991 memo issued by then-MLB commissioner Fay Vincent. As such, Barry Bonds was breaking the rules and therefore should not be enshrined.
This belief displays the hypocrisy of the PED issue and the Hall of Fame, as the Hall is already filled with players who benefited from usage during their careers.
It is generally assumed that Pud Galvin, who made use of the Brown-Séquard elixir all the way back in 1889, was the first player in MLB history to experiment with PED usage. Numerous other players (Hank Aaron and Mike Schmidt among them) have been open about amphetamine usage during their careers. (Amphetamines, by the way, were prohibited by MLB in 1971.)
Furthermore, it is highly likely that there are steroid users in the Hall, considering the fact that a study cited in the Mitchell Report discovered that they were widespread in MLB clubhouses back in 1973.
All of a sudden, it looks like the only thing Barry Bonds is guilty of is doing what numerous other players had been doing for decades.
So how have baseball writers dealt with the PED issue in the past? Primarily by using the same philosophy they have used for every other issue that has plagued the game's history: they took the best players of the generation, relative to the player's peers.
This is why noted racists like Cap Anson, Ty Cobb, and Tris Speaker (a former KKK member) were all enshrined.
This is why famous spitballers like Ed Walsh, Burleigh Grimes, and Gaylord Perry (well after the ban of the pitch) are all enshrined.
This is why numerous drug users (PEDs and otherwise) are in the Hall, with Aaron, Schmidt, and Fergeson Jenkins among them.
Barry Bonds took steroids, but he was also the best player of his generation. If Hall of Fame voters utilize their regular pattern, he will be an easy selection.