A reluctant 'yes'
Like him or not, Bonds deserves my Hall of Fame vote
Posted: Tuesday August 7, 2007 11:47AM; Updated: Tuesday August 7, 2007 2:57PM
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Whether it was real, slightly contrived or completely calculated, Bud Selig's reaction to Barry Bonds' record-tying home run was altogether appropriate.
He was there to commemorate the occasion, not celebrate it. Selig stood up and acknowledged Bonds' 755th home run. He did not cheer. He did not even smile. Instead, he wore an expression of resignation, a slightly unhappy look that fit the event exactly. His hands were in his pockets. That fit how he felt. Had he stood and applauded, he would have looked phony.
Selig has endured some criticism to his handling of the situation, as he knew he would. But from here, his calls have been mostly correct. His only real misstep, and it was minor, was calling his own chase of Bonds a "Herculean effort." While he isn't having fun, traveling first class to watch baseball can never be confused with heavy lifting, and his mistake there was repeating a phrase one of his friends used to praise him.
In any case, the commissioner has indeed tried. Selig attended eight of nine games en route to Bonds tying Hank Aaron's record on Saturday night in San Diego. He knew he had to try to be there, though he did his best to minimize the pomp of the circumstance by never announcing his intentions. Even when he missed a game here or there, he deputized one of his high-ranking underlings to attend when he did decide to do what he has called his "day job" -- running the multibillion dollar industry known as Major League Baseball.
He never came out and said he was going to follow Bonds. But, as personally distasteful as his attendance may have been to him, he knew it was the right call. (There is a precedent in Selig's favor: Then-commissioner Bowie Kuhn was in attendance for Aaron's record-tying 714th home run but not for No. 715.)
My call comes at least five years from now. And when I see Bonds' name on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time, I'll remember the commissioner's countenance. While I won't absolutely commit to my vote until the last minute, I think I'll feel about how Selig looked when the time comes.
Unlike with Selig, Bonds doesn't affect my legacy (it would be overstating it quite a bit to claim I had one), and I am not personal friends with Aaron. So unlike Selig, I don't feel an overwhelming need to straddle a fence for as long as possible. I probably will vote for Bonds for the Hall of Fame. I won't do it happily, but I believe I will vote yes.
Believe me, it isn't because, as Selig has tellingly said in his statements, that Bonds is "innocent until proven guilty." Because for the purposes of his Cooperstown review, I am as convinced Bonds juiced as I am that Mark McGwire juiced.
I didn't vote for McGwire in this past election because I felt he used his syringe to turn himself into a Hall of Famer. Therein lies the difference, at least for me. Long before he ever started juicing, Bonds was Cooperstown qualified.
I know a lot of folks will disagree with that distinction. Yet in an era where steroid usage was rampant among not only sluggers but much lesser players, I am not going to eliminate every player who's been caught cheating, whether it be by failed test, their own admission (or failure to answer under oath), or leaked grand jury testimony, as is the case with Bonds.
Like Selig did before his unhappy tour, I won't absolutely commit until the very last minute. And yet, I will admit that the Hall of Fame would seem a little empty without Bonds, who is the greatest player a lot of us will ever see. I will say this for sure: If I do vote yes, I will do it wearing the very same expression Selig wore for No. 755.
More on milestones ...
Tom is terrific
In the wake of Tom Glavine's 300th victory, some folks figured it was a good time to suggest that no one will ever win 300 games again. Which is absurd, of course.
If Randy Johnson comes back after another back surgery, he could do it. He's at 284. I wouldn't eliminate Mike Mussina, who has 246 wins, either.
There's really no great reason to think that no one will ever get to 300 again. Pitching every fifth day may keep seasonal totals down, but it may also be leading to longer careers. While the 1930s, '40s, '50s and '60s didn't produce many 300-game winners, with pitchers as great as Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale, Bob Gibson and Whitey Ford falling short, we've seen three pitchers reach the 300-victory plateau in the last few years alone, as Glavine followed Roger Clemens and his good friend Greg Maddux. Perhaps they benefited from the extra rest between starts.
It may be awhile, but who is to say Justin Verlander, Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Johan Santana, C.C. Sabathia, John Lackey, Barry Zito, Tim Hudson, Jake Peavy, Carlos Zambrano and Felix Hernandez have no chance? Certainly not me.