The most interesting question on the Hall of Fame the past nine years has been the same: Will Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens get in?
The answer on Tuesday was the same as the first eight times: No.
Now two of the best players ever to play in MLB have come to the expected finish line: One more year to get into Cooperstown or they’re off the ballot.
On the most recent ballot, the results of which were released Tuesday night, Clemens and Bonds fell below the necessary 75 percent threshold and barely had an increase. Clemens was up to 61.6 after finishing at 61 percent last year. Bonds, likewise, made a small climb, receiving 61.8 percent of the vote after 60.7 percent last year.
Getting to 70 percent would have been a solid benchmark for both players. Usually that means a 75 percent is within reach the next couple years. For Bonds and Clemens, though, there’s only one more chance, since 10 years on the ballot is the limit and still hovering around 60 percent doesn’t look good.
What’s next for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens?
For either of them to get in, something drastic has to change in the minds of Baseball Writers Association of America voters. If not, their fate will be left up to the Hall of Fame’s era committees, which reconsider the candidacies of certain players every year, divided by time period. Those panels are made up of 16 players, executives, historians and writers.
After years of being notoriously shrewd, the committees have let in the likes of Jack Morris, Alan Trammell, Lee Smith and Ted Simmons in recent years.
Next year brings Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz onto the Hall of Fame ballot, which only makes the steroid era conversation even more dramatic. Will it sway voters and make them more sympathetic? Or will it make votes for Bonds and Clemens even tougher to come by?
If not by writers’ votes, it stands to figure that Bonds and Clemens will get in one day, perhaps when the stench of the steroid era is further behind them. When that day is, who knows.
A steady climb, but will it be enough?
Bonds and Clemens came onto the ballot in 2013. They were the toughest cases yet as Hall of Fame voters tried to figure out what to do about the steroid era.
While they’ve sent a clearer message about someone like Manny Ramirez — who was suspended for PEDs — the whispers and beliefs about players like Bonds and Clemens have just made things harder for voters.
Bonds came onto the ballot with 36.2 percent in 2013, while Clemens started with 37.6. They’ve steadily climbed every year, with 75 being the mountaintop they were trying to reach.
Meanwhile, other steroid era stars like Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell got into Cooperstown after hand-wringing from voters. Gary Sheffield (40.6 percent this year) and Sammy Sosa (17 percent), meanwhile, haven’t gotten as close. Sosa also has one more year, while Sheffield has three more.
Mark McGwire, another steroid era slugger, fell off the ballot after never getting higher than 23.7 percent.
In a way, the stars of the steroid era need Bonds and Clemens to break through for their Hall of Fame hopes to ever be realized.
But it seems like Hall of Fame voters still aren’t any closer to having a consensus on one of the most controversial eras of the game.
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