My view: no matter what happens with the perjury trial — and the jury is still deliberating, by the way — Barry Bonds should still be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Sure, we can disagree about Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmiero’s worthiness or unworthiness, but Bonds is so far over the line that no one who even pretends to understand how physics and chemistry work can say that he’s some sort of bogus steroid creation. To quote Bill James’ comment about Rickey Henderson: if you cut him in half, you’d have two Hall of Famers. In Bonds case way may even be able to go thirds.
But there’s the morals clause, of course. I hate the morals clause and don’t believe that it was actually designed to exclude immoral actors from the Hall — rather, it was inserted to give a boost to good guys who may have fallen just short on the merits — but it’s there. And it will be the basis for the Hall of Fame electorate to exclude Bonds, much to their own embarrassment once these hysterical days have passed and some perspective on the matter is gained.
One guy who has thought a great deal about steroids in baseball and other sports is Steve Kettmann. The former A’s beat writer for the San Francisco Chronicle was the ghost writer for Jose Canseco’s “Juiced” and was sounding the steroids alarm a couple of years before anyone was. Over at the Huffington Post today, he makes a prediction about Bonds and the Hall of Fame that sounds about right:
There will always be cheating in the game, as there always has been, and there will always be fall guys for that cheating, who are punished when rich men behind the scenes dance away from blame. Bonds used steroids, but he’s really on trial for being stupid — and he may be found guilty of a charge or two. I still say that when the wash comes out, when we look back on all this years later, it will all look much different than it does now — and that one way or another, maybe after he’s dead and gone, or at least enfeebled and incapable of taking any pleasure in the news, Barry Bonds will be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
How much nicer if we could just cut out the silly interim period, cast out the morality of it all and do right by history?
The Royals honored former pitcher Yordano Ventura prior to their first Cactus League game against the Rangers on Saturday. Ventura was killed in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic in late January.
Rangers’ third baseman Adrian Beltre and center fielder Carlos Gomez paid their respects to the pitcher with a floral arrangement that was laid on the mound. Both teams stood along the foul lines during a pregame video tribute that highlighted Ventura’s tenure with Kansas City. Following the game, Gomez spoke to the media about his relationship with Ventura, describing their frequent conversations during the season and commending the pitcher for having “the same passion that I had early in my career” (via WFAA.com’s Levi Weaver).
A plaque dedicated to the 25-year-old was also presented to club manager Ned Yost as a more permanent commemoration of Ventura’s contributions to the sport. Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star reports that the plaque will be mounted in the club’s spring training facilities alongside tributes to members of the Royals’ 2014 and 2015 playoff teams.
The full text of the plaque is below, via MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan:
A brother and a teammate, Yordano Ventura, passed away on the morning of January 22 in his native Dominican Republic, at the age of 25. He signed with the Royals as a 17-year-old, eventually making the big league team in 2013 as a 22-year-old. On most days, he could be found laughing and joking with his baseball family in the clubhouse. However, on days when he pitched, that smile was replaced by a quiet confidence and an intense fire, which he brought to the mound for every start. He had many highlights in his abbreviated career, not the least of which was throwing eight shutout innings in Game #6 of the 2014 World Series to force a Game #7 vs. San Francisco.
Right-hander Gerrit Cole is set to take the mound for the Pirates on Opening Day, according to a team announcement on Saturday. It’s a spot that was most recently occupied by former Pirate Francisco Liriano, who made three consecutive Opening Day starts for the club before getting dealt to the Blue Jays last August.
The 26-year-old produced career-worst numbers during his fourth run with the Pirates in 2016, due in large part to bouts of inflammation in his right elbow. He finished the year with a 3.88 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 over 116 innings before getting shut down in September to avoid further injury to his elbow. When healthy, however, Cole has been lights-out for the Pirates. Prior to his injury-laden campaign last year, he touted a career 3.07 ERA, 2.2 BB/9, 8.5 SO/9 and cumulative 10.2 fWAR from 2013 through 2015.
Cole will go toe-to-toe with the Red Sox during Boston’s home opener on Monday, April 3. Right-hander Jameson Taillon is scheduled to make the second start of the year, while fellow righty Ivan Nova will cover the Pirates’ home opener against the Braves on April 7. The Pirates’ third and fifth starters have yet to be announced.