To sum it up quickly, this is fucking ridiculous. Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
** Update, January 2019**
As hall of fame voting season is upon us again, we'll be updating our views on Barry Bonds' potential election into the Baseball Hall of Fame in the coming days. For now, the case we made, below, still stands the test of time in spite of the traditional baseball media writers who are still getting this (and other Hall of Fame decisions) wrong. Stay tuned, but please continue on to the post below...
I grew up a Dodger fan and I'm supposed to hate all things Giants... but I don't. You know why? Because I'm capable of being objective, unlike many (or most) of the sports writers out there.
I also spent time working in sports media. I was a lackey intern at a local TV station who stuck microphones in the faces of professional athletes whether they wanted me to or not. I also worked at ESPN and I produced countless highlights for SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight. I analyzed baseball games for Peter Gammons and the rest of the talent on the show. I have nothing but respect for Peter Gammons, Karl Ravech and Harold Reynolds - the guys who were on the show the most when I worked there. But this Barry Bonds nonsense has got to stop. Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Barry Bonds and the Media
Barry Bonds really started being a dick to the media when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa became media darlings in 1998 with their famous Home Run race, when McGwire hit 70 HRs and Sosa hit 66 - both beating Roger Maris's 37-year-old home run record of 61. When it was discovered that Mark McGwire was using Androstinedione that season, the media washed over it and continued their coverage of McGwire and Sosa. While I have no problem with the media's coverage of the home run race, Barry Bonds did. That same season, Barry Bonds hit his 400th career home run, making him the first and only baseball player in history to hit 400 home runs and steal 400 bases. By the way, that's fucking ridiculous that he was able to do that. When Bonds did that, the media all but ignored him and continued chasing around McGwire and Sosa like a bunch of horny teenagers gawking at cheerleaders.
Should Barry Bonds have been so upset about it? In my opinion, no. But... Barry Bonds is an egotistical guy, therefore, he did care. He wanted the notoriety that McGwire and Sosa were getting, especially since Bonds knew that he was 10-times the player that either of those two guys could ever dream of being. At that point, Bonds, apparently, decided that he was going to do whatever it took to dominate baseball like no one else had ever done.
Bonds was the Smartest Player in Baseball
Now - real quick: did Barry Bonds have a great arm? Absolutely not. He had an average arm, at best, as Sid Bream can attest to. But his mediocre arm was, literally, his only flaw. There. Now that's out of the way. Let's continue analyzing why Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame.
Bonds vs. Sosa and McGwire
Look at Bonds' 2003 season where he had 130 games played, then compare it to McGwire's 1996 season where he also had 130 games played. This is about as close to apples-to-apples as you can get with this comparison.
McGwire was 32 years old. He recorded 423 at bats with 52 HRs, 116 walks and 112 strikeouts - an excellent year for him, to say the least. Arguably, his best season in terms of overall offensive balance and reliability. He also hit .312 with a .730 slugging percentage.
Bonds, on the other hand, was 38 years old. Bonds recorded just 390 at bats while hitting 45 home runs. He also walked a ridiculous 148 times while only striking out 58 times. He was also intentionally walked 61 times (vs. McGwire's 16 times). Bonds' batting average was .341 with a .749 slugging percantage - both better than McGwire's.
In general, Sosa and McGwire's numbers increased slightly across the board mathematically. Perhaps thanks to the PEDs, what would have been warning-track fly-outs had become home runs, giving Sosa and McGwire a slight bump in batting average, home runs, RBI and slugging percentage. Bonds numbers, on the other hand, got way better across the board. His walks went way up, his batting average went way up, and his home runs went way up. Pitchers and coaches were afraid to pitch to Bonds - they knew they weren't going to strike him out. McGwire and Sosa, on the other hand, were frequent strikeout victims that no pitcher was afraid of.
Barry Bonds was the Smartest Hitter, Ever
Hitters, in general, when they get to the plate, they have the automatic mindset that they have to swing at strikes, when they really don't. Hitters forget that they get three strikes to play with. Bonds understood this, therefore, Bonds created his own strike zone.
When Barry Bonds went to the plate, he had a smaller "sweet-spot" strike zone in his mind that was within the actual strike zone, per se. This was a smaller window that was his personal sweet spot where he wanted to see pitches. This sweet spot was a smaller box within the strike zone that, if a pitch was going in that little box, he would absolutely crush it, regardless of the count. If he had less than 2 strikes on him and the pitch wasn't going in his sweet spot, he wasn't going to swing at it, period. He would just take strike one - or even strike two, for that matter. It wasn't until Bonds had two strikes on him that he would swing at anything close to the strike zone to protect the plate. While everyone else had the mindset that they had to swing at every strike, Bonds was patient. He waited for his pitch, and if he got it, he killed it. If he didn't get it, he would wait until he had two strikes to protect the plate, and then you'd see him lace doubles in the gap, rip singles through the box, or even hit an opposite field home run. This mentality at the plate set Bonds apart from, literally, every other hitter in the major leagues. Again, this comes down to Bonds just being smarter than everyone else on the field. Again, you don't have to like the guy, but you must recognize that his approach to hitting was beyond unique - it was smarter than everyone else in the league.
Debunking the "Everyone Was Doing Steroids" Argument
One Last Case for Bonds and the Hall of Fame
Aside from the writers in the media not taking kindly to Barry Bonds' arrogance, these vote-carrying writers have to suck up their pride and do their best to compare apples to apples. In Bonds' era, he was so clearly the best player in baseball that there's no way you can justify leaving him out of the Hall of Fame. There's just no way. When everyone competitive in his era was doing the same thing (PEDs - both hitters AND pitchers), Bonds was so far ahead of them that it wasn't even comparable. Okay... let's put it this way... other teams were so afraid of Bonds beating them that Bonds was able to record a season like the following at the age of 39:
"But Bonds was doing PEDs when he did that!" sayeth the holier-than-thou sports writers. Horseshit, seyeth me, the objective, meek Blog writer. Jeff Bagwell didn't draw those walks. Pujols didn't draw those walks. Larry Walker didn't draw those walks. Triple-crown winner Miguel Cabrera didn't draw those walks. Cecil Fielder didn't draw those walks. McGwire and Sosa didnt' draw those walks. Barry Bonds drew 120 intentional walks in a single season, and he stil hit 45 home runs in 373 at bats... with 101 RBI, a .362 batting average, an .812 slugging percentage and a total of 232 walks to just 41 strikeouts... Dude... SERIOUSLY... Go ahead - say it with me...
Bonds' stats are beyond video game stats, and there were plently of guys in his era that slammed PEDs like they were Halloween candy.
I think we can finally rest this case. Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame, you pompass, purist, bitter, jealous, conceited, biased sports writers. Get over your feelings. Don't tell me what you feel - tell me what you think. You know Barry Bonds is the greatest player of his era and it's not even close. Leave McGwire out. Leave Sosa out. Leave Bagwell out. Leave Palmeiro out. Leave Frank Thomas out - oh, wait too late. He's already in (for the record, that's fine with me). Hell, you can even leave Roger Clemens out for all I care. Roger Clemens is nowhere near as a good a pitcher as Bonds was a hitter, so Clemens can stay out. But Barry Bonds belongs in the Hall of Fame. There's just no way to justify leaving Barry Bonds out of the Hall of Fame.
I'm not asking you to like Barry Bonds. I'm telling you to put him in the Hall of Fame where he belongs. You don't have to like a guy to put him in the Hall of Fame. Ty Cobb, anyone? I don't remember Barry Bonds spiking anyone in the guts while sliding into second base on a routine grounder, but I do remmeber Barry Bonds dominating baseball even before he used PEDs.
Just suck it up, get over your bias, get over your hatred for Barry Bonds and his giant ego... and his giant head... and just vote him into the Hall of Fame. There is no justification for keeping Barry Bonds out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. There just isn't. And the same goes for Pete Rose, too, I might add... but that's a different article altogether.