The incongruity of Bonds' HOF exclusion
February, 23, 2014
By Buster Olney | ESPN.com
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty ImagesBarry Bonds is in good standing with MLB, but the BBWAA has yet to elect him to the Hall of Fame.Barry Bonds will work as an instructor for the San Francisco Giants, writes Alex Pavlovic, and in a roundabout way, this hiring demonstrates the complete incongruity of the Hall of Fame voting.
From Pavlovic’s story:
Barry Bonds is scheduled to return to the Giants from March 9-17 as a special instructor for the organization's young hitters, as first reported by this newspaper. Bonds has long wanted to take on a more active role with the organization, but the two sides have not been connected in an official capacity since 2007, Bonds' last major league season.
The years since have been filled with performance-enhancing drug allegations, a perjury trial and a felony conviction for obstruction of justice, but the Giants are not worried about Bonds being a distraction.
"He's part of what we'll do here," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's going to be part of the group of instructors, like (Will) Clark, (J.T.) Snow or (Jeff) Kent. He's going to be like the other guys and help where he can.
"I don't have any concerns."
During an appearance at AT&T Park in 2012, Bonds told reporters that he had approached Giants CEO and President Larry Baer about working for the club in some form. The conversations have continued informally since then, and the Giants felt that the timing was finally right to bring back one of the best players of all time, albeit one with a complicated history.
"Collectively within the organization, we felt that given Barry's desire to continue to contribute to the Giants, we should be open-minded about giving him the same invite that we have given to other players in the past," Baer said Saturday.
As far as Major League Baseball is concerned, Bonds is a member in good standing; the Giants can hire him and use him as they see fit, and Bonds is free to work in any MLB job he can get. This is unlike Pete Rose, who is serving a lifetime suspension for betting on baseball. Rose would love to work for the Reds, and if you gave truth serum to the team's honchos, they would tell you they’d love to have him on board, given his overwhelming popularity with Cincinnati fans. But Rose is not permitted employment, having been exiled because his baseball crime is deemed by MLB to be significantly greater than that of Bonds or Mark McGwire or Ryan Braun or Melky Cabrera or Nelson Cruz or any other user of performance-enhancing drugs. Cruz was suspended for 50 games last summer and just got an $8 million contract, in fact.
As far as the Hall of Fame is concerned, Bonds is a member in good standing, having appeared on its ballot repeatedly; again, this is unlike Rose, who has never appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot.
The only group treating Bonds as an outcast now is the Baseball Writers’ Association of American, currently positioned as the steroid police of the industry, and there are no signs that the BBWAA will move out of its standing as the designers of history.
The Giants -- and by extension, Major League Baseball -- are treating Bonds as a star of his era, with his 762 homers, seven Most Valuable Player awards and career .444 on-base percentage. His records and feats are fully acknowledged by the Hall of Fame, because, as president Jeff Idelson has said rightly over and over, the Hall documents history -- good and bad.
The majority of the baseball writers regard Bonds very differently than how the rest of the institution of the sport does.