Update, 11 a.m. Wednesday: The National Baseball Hall of Fame just announced its 2014 class. And that guy who holds Major League Baseball's all-time home run record? He didn't even come close to getting elected, again.
That guy, of course, is former Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants outfielder Barry Bonds. Last year, members of the Baseball Writers Association of America made it clear that despite all of Bonds' prodigious feats, including his record 762 home runs, they were very, very cool to the idea of awarding him the game's ultimate honor. The writers' message in Bonds' first year of Hall of Fame eligibility: We're not about to forgive your assumed use of performance-enhancing drugs. Bonds was named on just 36.2 percent of the ballots cast, far short of the 75 percent support needed for the Hall. Another high-profile presumed doper on that ballot, Red Sox/Blue Jays/Yankees/Astros pitcher Roger Clemens, suffered a similar fate.
Last year's result made a lot of people curious about what would happen in this year's Hall of Fame voting. If Bonds got more votes this time around, maybe he'd be on the way to eventual election. Well, the writers have spoken, and the news for Bonds' prospects of future enshrinement aren't looking good. His support actually declined from last year, with 34.7 percent of voters (198 of 571 who cast ballots) supporting his admission to the Hall in Cooperstown, N.Y. (Clemens' support went down too, from 37.6 percent last year to 35.4 percent this year.)
But the news was happier for three first-time candidates: Those who did make it in this year were:
- Greg Maddux, starter for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves
- Tom Glavine, starter for the Atlanta Braves
- Frank Thomas, first baseman and designated hitter for the Chicago White Sox, Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays
The Hall of Fame announcement and complete list of those who received votes is here: BBWAA Elects Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas
The three players elected today join three managers also elected to the Hall: Tony LaRussa (White Sox, A's, St. Louis Cardinals), Joe Torre (New York Yankees) and Bobby Cox, who managed Maddux and Glavine for the Braves and led the team to its long string of playoff appearances in the 1990s and early 2000s.
The other headlines from the Hall of Fame balloting:
- Besides Clemens, another prominent figure from the steroid era, first baseman Mark McGwire, saw his support erode in this year's voting.
- Craig Biggio, an All-Star catcher and second baseman with sterling credentials and no association with doping, fell just short of election this year. He got 74.8 percent support. Last year, his first time on the ballot, he received 68 percent of writers' votes.
- Jeff Kent, a second baseman and Cal alum who spent six years with the Giants and was the National League's Most Valuable Player in 2000, got 15.2 percent.
- Mike Piazza, a catcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets who closed out his career as a designated hitter in Oakland, got 62.2 percent.
Original post: Baseball Hall of Fame Vote: How Much Will Barry Bonds 'Lose' By?
Today, we get to resume at least briefly the debate over Barry Bonds: Does he belong in the National Baseball Hall of Fame? The Hall will make its announcement at 11 a.m. PST. Last year was Bonds' first year of eligibility for the honor. He needed 75 percent of votes cast by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America to get into the Hall. He got just shy of 37 percent in the 2013 voting.
Of course, the former San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates superstar has the ultimate qualification for the Hall: He hit more home runs than anyone to play the game who is not named Sadaharu Oh. When Bonds' career ended after the 2007 season, he had hit 762 home runs. And there was so much more to his game, too. Through much of his career he was near the top of any fan's list of the game's best players because he did everything well. It was hard to remember, watching his bulked-up late-career physique, the lean fleet outfielder he once had been — the "five-tool player" who hit for average, for power, ran, fielded and threw with the best in the game.
Of course, that blown-up body was the visible sign of his coming downfall, because, though no one's proved it in court, the universal assumption is that Bonds only achieved his amazing power numbers the same way he became The Hulk — because he was doping. (Yes, Bonds has been convicted — but for obstruction of justice in a trial that accused him of lying to a grand jury investigating the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Bonds was acquitted of several perjury counts in the trial.)
Given that history, it's hard to believe Bonds will be elected this year either. We'll leave alone for now the issue how most of the baseball establishment, including the writers, looked the other way while Bonds was piling up his big stats.
Bonds wasn't the only player with Hall of Fame credentials who failed to get in last year because of his association with the steroid era. Roger Clemens, the right-handed starting pitcher who won 354 games for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Houston Astros, has denied doping, and like Bonds he was tried and acquitted on perjury charges. And like Bonds, he got about half the votes he needed to enter the Hall in his first year of eligibility.
Oakland A's and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire, an admitted doper, got 17 percent of votes last year.
Among those never associated with doping but kept out of the Hall last year was Craig Biggio, one of the best hitters in the game during his career, who made the impossible-sounding transition from All-Star catcher to All-Star second baseman. If you go by some early signs — like the New York Daily News disclosure of its writers' votes — he'll be elected this year.
Others believed to be likely electees: Greg Maddux, longtime starter for the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves; Tom Glavine, another Braves starter; Frank Thomas, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox, A's and Blue Jays. Also possible, among others: Jack Morris, starter for the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins, and Mike Piazza, catcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets (and who ended with a stint as the A's designated hitter).