On May 28, 1998, Giants outfielder Barry Bonds stepped to the plate. The game was close with the Arizona Diamondbacks (D-backs), leading 8-6 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning. With the bases loaded, D-backs manager, Buck Showalter, elected to intentionally walk Bonds. This was one of only two bases loaded intentional walks in history. With the walk, Arizona’s lead was cut in half to only one run. Showalter was scared that Bonds would hit a walk off home run, Bonds hit home runs virtually at will and is the record holder for home runs in a career.
However, Bonds was able to capture this record with the help of performance enhancing drugs. His use has created lots of debate whether he should be voted into the Hall of Fame. While he got help from these drugs, he without a doubt deserves the right to join other legends in the Hall.
Bonds finished his career with 762 home runs, the record for career home runs. His career batting average was close to .300 sitting at .298 and almost 3000 hits. These legendary numbers were not enough to make the Hall of Fame. Bonds played during the steroid era, running from the late ‘80s into the early 2000s. Sluggers such as Mark McGwire and Alex Rodriguez used performance enhancing drugs to give them an edge, making them stronger and creating a power surge in baseball. They hit lots of home runs, crushing past records. However, when these players became eligible for voting into the Hall of Fame, they were unable to get the votes because of their drug use. Even though these players helped create a much more exciting and popular time for baseball, as well as setting records and having legendary careers, they have been barred from immortality in the Hall of Fame. There is absolutely zero reason these legends should have been unable to join the likes of other sluggers; they should all find their way into the Hall.
Performance Enhancing Drugs, more commonly known as PEDs, allow players to grow muscle much faster than normal, at an unnatural pace. Players grew stronger, and because of this, fly balls were turning into mammoth home runs. They were being hit at faster pace than ever before.
The Steroid Era saw a sharp incline in home runs. According to Bleacher Report, a sports news site, between 1994 and 1999, there was an average of 1.06 home runs hit per game. From 2000-2004, there was an average of 1.10 home runs hit every game, compared to an average of only .86 between 1988-1993. In 2001, Barry Bonds set the record for home runs in a season–crushing 73 home runs. In second place was the Cubs slugger, Sammy Sosa, who clobbered 64. The 2001 season saw two players, Bonds and Sosa, hit over 60 home runs, and two more players, Alex Rodriguez and Luis Gonzalez, hit over 50.
Possibly the most exciting event of The Steroid Era was the 1998 home run record chase, between Cardinals first baseman, Mark McGwire, Mariners outfielder, Ken Griffey Jr, and Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa. All three were pushing Roger Maris’ season record of 61 home runs. The record that had stood for 37 years was broken by both Sosa and McGwire; Griffey came close with 56. The race was won by McGwire who finished the season with a whopping 70 home runs. The home run chase was closely followed by baseball fans and brought many new ones to the sport.
The Steroid Era may have saved baseball. In 1994, the season was ended early due to a strike because of the owners and players not being able to reach a collective bargaining agreement. When baseball returned after the strike, viewers were down. According to The Motley Fool, attendance at games had dropped 12 percent.
Baseball seemed to be dying, but then the home runs started to increase again, bringing back the fans. Baseball became popular again, taking back its place as Americas pastime, and even becoming one of the largest sports in the world. Since the strike, revenue has increased by billions of dollars. Stephen Decatur senior and varsity baseball player, Hunter Selzer states, “People want to watch games full of offense, and it is a lot of fun to watch guys hit the ball 500 feet multiple times a game. It is no surprise that attendance was up during this era.”
Sadly, these saviors of baseball who love the game and have dedicated their lives to working at their craft, as well as coaching, are not able to join the ranks of other legends in the Hall of Fame. The committee believes that their use of PEDs takes away the morality of their records and their accomplishments. Despite bringing billions of dollars and many new fans to baseball, these sluggers have been labeled as cheaters and are not given the recognition they deserve.
PED users should be allowed into the Hall of Fame. Hitting a baseball is said to be the hardest thing to do in all of sports. These hitters had to match up against some of the most talented pitchers in history, such as Randy Johnson, who stood at 6 foot 10 inches, and could throw triple digit fastballs with a wipeout slider.
Selzer remarks, “Hitting a major league pitcher is without a doubt the hardest thing to do in sports. Bonds and the other users may have used PEDs, but they executed at the highest level and deserve to be rewarded.”
To say that they do not deserve a spot among the other greats is ridiculous. They brought baseball back after the strike and have made baseball one of the largest sports in the world, bringing in billions of dollars of revenue. However, their accomplishments have wrongfully been denied. They should all find their way onto plaques to hang in Cooperstown.