Baseball’s single-season and career home run king has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2013, but the last three induction classes have decidedly not included one Barry Lamar Bonds. Instead, in 2013 the Hall of Fame inducted a class of pretty much no one, just a bunch of guys so long dead that one’s entire career as a catcher was played without a glove. The 2014 class was “highlighted” by aged white-guy managers and two-thirds of a trio of Atlanta Braves pitchers (Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine), well-known for their annual playoff chokes. And while this year’s class includes some fearsome hurlers, they were still known for coming up short in the clutch (Atlanta Braves choker #3, John Smoltz); a bad attitude (southpaw beanpole Randy Johnson, who wore a sour look on his ugly mug throughout a long and successful career); and one ridiculous Jheri-curl (the Dominican fireballer Pedro Martinez, noted for throwing the septuagenarian Don Zimmer to the ground during one particularly heated Red Sox-Yankee donnybrook).
Continuing to be flat-out rejected from Hall of Fame induction, however, are the aforementioned home run champion, Barry Bonds; Roger Clemens, the only pitcher in baseball history to win the Cy Young award seven times; and perhaps the greatest hitting catcher of all time, Mike Piazza. Each has been refused admittance—along with historic sluggers Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa—due only to this country’s collective hand-wringing that the players may have used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs).
The prevailing sentiment about these Hall of Fame candidates from “the Steroid Era” was best summed up by the dainty filmmaker Ken Burns, who said, “Those motherfuckers should suffer.”
This fervent desire to keep PED users out of Cooperstown is the result of people like Burns insisting that honoring the careers of players like Bonds and Clemens would sully baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame. They believe steroid users didn’t play the game with the “integrity, sportsmanship and character” that should distinguish a Cooperstown-worthy career, which would be all well and good if the walls of the Hall of Fame weren’t already adorned with plaques celebrating every kind of criminal and creep, racist and rogue. Just consider some of the murderers’ row of players currently honored in baseball’s most august institution:
During his illustrious baseball career (most famously managing the 1954 World Series champion New York Giants), Leo “The Lip” Durocher was accused of:
• Dragging a heckler beneath the stands of Ebbets Field and beating him with a blackjack.
• Joining forces with actor George Raft to use loaded dice and swindle some sucker out of $18,000.
• Befriending Bugsy Siegel and various other Chicago gangsters.
• Pawing at and bedding down pretty much any Hollywood starlet who came within arm’s length.