When a journalist asked him how he had been able to hit so many home runs (762) in his twenty-two-year professional career in Major League Baseball, Barry Bonds replied: “Ask God, he should know.” .
The question was tricky, because the shadow of doubt has rested on the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants player for two decades, and the suspicion that he used steroids to strengthen his muscles and hit the ball harder. He never liked journalists, and journalists never liked Bonds. If San Pedro denied Jesus three times, they have denied the player ten times, all the times that his name has appeared on the list of candidates for a plaque with his name in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame.
He hit the ball with extraordinary force, but it is not known to what extent it was thanks to the steroids
Bonds is one of the best players in baseball history. He has hit more home runs than Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Alex Rodriguez, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr. and no one else, with a .298 batting average, eight Gold Gloves and seven-time NBA MVP. the National League. But the 134 journalists who vote on who gets and who doesn’t get into the Hall of Fame have decided that, of the five requirements needed to receive the honor, he meets talent, fails integrity, sportsmanship and character, and his contribution to the sport is on the one hand very good (statistics) and on the other very bad (steroids). So go.
This is a very controversial decision. The puritans agree, but many people (including journalists) think that Bonds is far from the only one of his time who ingested prohibited substances, that the accusing finger has fallen on more than a hundred players, that even today baseball is cheated, bats and balls are rigged, and that between 1986 and 2007 the press and Major League Baseball itself turned a blind eye to the use of steroids.
Following a federal investigation that went all the way to the United States Senate, Bonds was found guilty not of ingesting prohibited substances but of perjury and obstruction of justice, but the sentence was overturned a few years later. Not so his image, nor the asterisk that appears next to all his records (the two accusations of domestic violence leveled against him by an ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend have not helped him either). To enter Cooperstown, he now has only one possibility: that the committee of sixteen baseball historians that periodically reviews the cases of those who have been left out – a kind of Court of Appeals – intervene on his behalf.
Perhaps in another sport there would have been leniency for Barry Bonds, and other stars who have also been given a cross for similar reasons like Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa or Roger Clemens. But baseball is synonymous with nostalgia and tradition, despite the fact that throughout history it has been marked by match-fixing scandals (including the 1919 World Series, in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox received money to lose to the Cincinnati Reds), drugs, racism and, more recently, espionage by the Houston Astros to read the signs of the rival bench. On the one hand there is a lot of dirt; on the other, the claim to be purer than Caesar’s wife.
Pitcher Gaylord Perry (365 wins) not only confessed in his memoir to cheating, but even recounted how he notched the ball for spin. But he was from an earlier era (he retired in 1983), and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Not so Bonds, Barry Bonds.
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My name is Bonds, Barry Bonds