SIMMONS: Another last chance for Bonds, Clemens and the Baseball Hall of Fame

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The last last chance for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and the Baseball Hall of Fame arrives this Sunday.

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It’s the first time anyone other than regular Hall of Fame voters will have a say in baseball’s greatest players – looking back at the sport’s most confusing, confusing and unpleasant era. .

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There has been no agreement of any kind for years on what to do with those suspected of using performance-enhancing drugs and those who, in fact, have tested positive for them while playing. in Major League Baseball.

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Hall of Fame voters, still at odds, had their say. They spent 10 years figuring out what to do with Bonds, Clemens and others with similar issues. And neither Bonds nor Clemens came close to the 75% threshold needed to be elected to the Hall.

Their time on the Hall of Fame ballot ran out a year ago. Bonds, the seven-time MVP, perhaps the greatest player we’ve ever seen, ended up with 36 induction votes. Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Clemens, perhaps the greatest pitcher we’ve ever seen, needed 39 votes. It was as close as they’ve come in 10 years to possibilities.

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And this time, for the first time with voters in the contemporary baseball era, they will be judged by many players they have played with or against, a jury of mostly peers, which includes seven Hall of Fame players. , five high-ranking baseball executives, including Paul Beeston of Toronto, an owner and three longtime baseball writers.

There are 16 voters in all and it will take 12 votes to be elected. There are eight players on the ballot, including former Blue Jay Fred McGriff, who never received more than 39.8% of the vote during his Hall of Fame eligibility years. Others to consider include Rafael Palmeiro, who has Hall of Fame stats but tested positive for drugs late in his career; two-time MVP Dale Murphy; longtime Yankees great Don Mattingly; former Cleveland slugger Albert Belle; bold pitcher, Curt Schilling. And of course, Bonds and Clemens are making headlines, anyway.

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If they come in, it’s a screaming title of acceptance and it’s the same if they don’t come in. The Contemporary Era Panel can elect up to three of these eight nominees or as few as zero. It is their call, their private debate, their sober second examination of some who might be deserving and others who are on or below the line of induction.

Positive tests do not exist for Bonds and Clemens, only the physical evidence, eye test and reported evidence are overwhelming regarding their career achievements. Unlike Palmeiro, who got caught and talked about it at length later, Bonds and Clemens never admitted anything. What they achieved by the end of their careers – Clemens had a 1.87 ERA at age 42 after winning a Cy Young at age 41; Bonds won four MVPs at 36, 37, 38 and 39 and three years later had 132 RBIs in his final season in the big league, it seems as impossible now as it did then.

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The players voting and perhaps, more importantly, discussing the matter privately, are all well known. Ryne Sandberg. Greg Maddux. Jack Morris. Chipper Jones. Frank Thomas. Lee Smith. Alan Tramel. They come from diverse backgrounds: Both Thomas and Maddux were Hall of Famers. Morris took years to get enough votes to be selected. It’s three pitchers to Maddux, Morris and Smith A first baseman to Thomas, Sandberg played at second base, Trammell at shortstop and Jones at third base.

Even the executives background has new school Theo Epstein and old school Beeston and we don’t know where Angels owner Arte Moreno fits into the equation.

They will privately debate what those of us who have been fortunate enough to be voters over the years have debated internally for years. What to do with bonds? What to do with Clement? And how do you already have a Hall of Fame without Pete Rose, the all-time leader, and still without home run king, Bonds, and master pitcher, Clemens?

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It’s less or more complicated with Schilling, depending on your personal point of view. I thought he should have been elected during his 10 years of eligibility. He has Hall of Fame credentials as a pitcher. He may not have Hall of Fame accreditation as a human being. Where does this committee descend on despicable?

Schilling came within 63 votes of the election when he was last eligible in Cooperstown – and that was after asking that his name be removed from the ballot and the room not welcome him.

The obvious Hall of Famers here, if you remove the stench and stat alters, are Bonds and Clemens. Just after, Schilling and Palmeiro.

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Three of them are attached to the era of steroids.

And after that, there’s a chance for McGriff, a chance for Belle, and a longer chance for Mattingly and Murphy. But there’s no real handicap to what’s going to be done here. Lee Smith, who was not elected by the writers, entered through the New Era committee. Just like Harold Baines a few years ago and no one saw it coming.

Now come new voices on Bonds and Clemens and performance-enhancing drugs, and baseball’s most complicated era. This is the first of their last shots for the election. The first, until there is a next time.

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