Bonds (and Everyone) Strikes Out

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In the most resounding referendum yet on the legacy of steroids in baseball, voters for the Hall of Fame emphatically rejected the candidacies of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens in balloting results announced on Wednesday. In their first year on the ballot, Bonds and Clemens, perhaps the most decorated hitter and pitcher in the game’s history, fell far short of receiving the necessary 75 percent of votes from baseball writers. Bonds, the career home runs leader, received only 36.2 percent, while Clemens, who won a record seven Cy Young Awards, did slightly better, with 37.6. It was the first election since 1996 in which the writers chose no new members. “It takes time for history to sort itself out,” said Jeff Idelson, the Hall of Fame’s president. “I’m not surprised we had a shutout today. I wish we had an electee, but I’m not surprised given how volatile this era has been.” For a sport whose links to performance-enhancing drugs have forced it to endure Congressional hearings, public apologies from players, tell-all books and federal trials, Wednesday offered a profound moment. Writers decreed that two of baseball’s greatest players would not be officially recognized with the game’s highest honor, at least for now and perhaps forever. The Hall of Fame will still have its annual induction ceremony in Cooperstown, N.Y., this summer. But the three who will be honored — the umpire Hank O’Day, the owner Jacob Ruppert and a catcher, Deacon White — all died in the 1930s and were voted in by the veterans’ committee in December rather than through the more prestigious route of being selected by the members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. (The New York Times does not permit its reporters to vote for awards.) As a result, it will be the first time since 1960 that the induction ceremony will include no new, living honorees, underscoring the lingering damage that the issue of drugs is inflicting on the sport. Clemens, in a message posted to his Twitter account, said that “after what has been written and said over the last few years I’m not overly surprised.” Bonds did not immediately comment, but lamented in an interview with MLB.com in November that “it’s tough when you have so many people out there who don’t want to turn the page and want to be angry at you forever.” Every player on the 2013 ballot was active in the years before steroid testing, which began, with penalties, in 2004. Some have escaped suspicion, like the top two finishers in this election. Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros, who amassed 3,060 hits, made his debut on the ballot at 68.2 percent, followed by the former pitcher Jack Morris, who got 67.7 percent in his 14th year as a candidate. CONTINUE READING

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