ESPN’s Gene Wojciechowski writes, “Bonds is finished. He might play again, but there is only a chalk outline left around his integrity and home run totals. And the only way he gets into Cooperstown is if he spends the $14.50 for a Hall of Fame admission ticket.”
I disagree. What do we know about Bonds today that we didn’t know yesterday? Not much. There is no new hard proof. I’m not defending Bonds — I’ve long thought he was guilty. Today’s news merely reinforced/affirmed my thinking. Ultimately, I think that Bonds’s bid for the Hall of Fame will be influenced by three factors:
1) He will be viewed through the prism of the “steroid era.” With voters unable to know with any certainty who juiced and who didn’t, many of them will just ignore the issue.
2) Absence of hard proof. If the government pursues perjury charges and Bonds is convicted, voters may well be swayed. Without it, I think that many will take the “innocent until proven guilty” approach when they cast their ballots.
3) Bonds posted HOF numbers before he was suspected of doing steroids. Indeed, if voters opt to disregard the years following 1998, they will still be looking at fantastic numbers. Who knows how many of them will rationalize that he was Hall-worthy without the drugs, so he’s Hall-worthy in spite of them?
It will be interested to see what happens when Bonds is finally eligible for induction. By then, we’ll have seen what happened to Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire. If either of them makes it, Bonds is probably a shoe-in. If neither does, then it’s anybody’s guess. But if I had to venture a guess, I’d bet that he makes it.
P.S. Since I neglected to mention it earlier, SI has an excerpt from the book and lots of other interesting information relating to the Bonds story.