“To ignore the historic accomplishments of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, for example, is hard to justify,” Weiner said in a statement. “Moreover, to penalize players exonerated in legal proceedings – and others never even implicated – is simply unfair.”
Both Bonds and Clemens have been directly linked to baseball’s steroids period.
In 2003, Bonds became embroiled in the scandal surrounding the Bay Area Laboratory Cooperative (BALCO), to which his personal trainer, lifelong friend Greg Anderson, had ties. Bonds maintained his innocence, but in 2007 – the year he hit the last of his record 762 home runs – he was indicted on perjury and obstruction of justice charges in relation to his grand jury testimony in the BALCO case. In 2011 he was convicted on one count of obstruction of justice.
Clemens was a prominent figure in baseball’s independent investigation into steroid use, led by former senator George Mitchell, in 2007, when Clemens recorded the last of his 4,672 strikeouts, a total that ranks third all-time. The following February, Clemens appeared before a congressional committee and denied ever using performance-enhancing drugs even as Brian McNamee, his former trainer, offered detailed accounts of injecting Clemens with steroids.
Members of Congress eventually recommended that the Justice Department investigate whether Clemens lied under oath. A procedural misstep by prosecutors initially led to a mistrial. Last June, Clemens was acquitted of six counts of lying to Congress – enough to clear his name legally but not, apparently, to clear it in the minds of Hall of Fame voters.
Vincent said those voters have “a very murky, opaque decision. . . . I think it’s the right decision. But it reflects very badly on that whole era in baseball.”
Bonds, Clemens, Sosa and anyone receiving more than 5 percent of the vote will be eligible in the future, for as long as 15 years. Idelson said there are no plans to change the procedures for voting.
“It’s evident that the voters took this exercise probably more serious than any other ballot that they filled out, and that’s because there’s so many questions in voters’ minds,” Idelson said. “It takes time for history to sort itself out. I’m not surprised we had a shutout today.”