Two things are obvious to anyone who follows baseball at even a passing level.
1.) Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez had first-ballot-caliber Hall of Fame careers; and
2.) Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez were never going to be voted into the Hall of Fame.
Bonds, connected in reporting (and logic) to performance-enhancing drugs, and Rodriguez, suspended for his use of performance-enhancing drugs, have been informally banned from the Hall of Fame in the minds of too many voters for them to get close enough to enshrinement. Bonds’ final year of voting eligibility just expired, and Rodriguez’s is certain to do the same without him getting the requisite 75% of the vote.
It’s possible some committee way down the road will decide that the Steroid Era was so fraught with usage and mixed messages from the league that maybe Bonds could get in (ARod is a tougher sell, because it was later and he was suspended). It seems pretty unlikely, though.
That’s why it was darkly funny to hear the two joking about it on the Kay-Rod broadcast of Sunday Night Baseball – specifically, the idea that maybe they could come back for one at-bat and then reset their voting clock to buy more time:
The add layer of dark humor there is that, by the end of his career, Barry Bonds was CLEARLY still able to contribute to a big league team, but no team was willing to give him that one more at-bat. The same wasn’t really true for Alex Rodriguez, who fell off hard at the end, as he was trying to reach 700 home runs (coming up four short), and ultimately retired in mid-August of 2016.
It’s notable that both men clearly do care about being excluded from the MLB Hall of Fame, and they’re not hiding from it. I have mixed feelings myself about how you handle these situations, and tend to fall on the side that you include in the Hall of Fame the players who were truly the elite of the elite, and if their bio requires a note about their extracurriculars and the era in which they played, so be it. But then I hear some long-time players talk about how their careers were hurt in the Steroid Era because they were among the players who DIDN’T use, and I do get upset on their behalf. It’s still complicated after all these years.
Which isn’t to say I can’t laugh at the thought of a 58-year-old Barry Bonds stepping to the plate one last time and sending one into McCovey Cove. If that did happen, any chance he would get voted in within the following 15 years? Bonds did climb throughout the voting process to 66% of the vote, so I actually think he probably would get to 75% eventually.