MIKE BURKE

Allegany Radio Corporation Sports

If not Barry Bonds, how David Ortiz?

If David Ortiz, why not Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling?

Frankly, I understand why the needed 75 percent of the Baseball Writers Association of America voters would not vote for Bonds, Clemens or Schilling. Not many people care for any of them personally, and, to their credit, Bonds, Clemens and Schilling have never seemed to care to change anybody’s feelings on the matter.

Ortiz thus enters the National Baseball Hall of Fame this summer after being named on over 77 percent of the ballots (75 percent is required) on his first year of eligibility. I get it. Ortiz is one of the greatest clutch hitters of his time. He led the Boston Red Sox to world titles. Everybody loves him.

He did test positive for steroids.

Barry Bonds has been an angry man since he was a youngster, frankly, with very good reason to be. He is the poster child for PED (performance-enhancing drugs/steroids) yet never tested positive for PED use.

Bonds was also, as former Atlanta Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone said, “steroids or no steroids, the best (bleeping) hitter I ever saw.” He was, according to the former player and manager, Felipe Alou, “the reincarnation of Ted Williams with more power.”

Oh, yes, a five-tool perennial All-Star, Bonds also hit more home runs in a career and in a season than anybody who ever lived. He was also a record seven-time National League Most Valuable Player.

He didn’t test positive for steroids. Ortiz did.

Nobody liked Bonds. Everybody loved Ortiz, other than the guy at Camden Yards who had to replace the telephone in the visitors’ dugout that Big Papi crushed with a baseball bat after being ejected from a game for arguing a called third strike.

Clemens won a record seven Cy Young Awards. He never tested positive for steroids. But like Bonds, nobody believed he didn’t use steroids and, like Bonds, nobody liked him.

Curt Schilling won 216 games, ate innings when he started and was postseason money. He was a guy you would want on the mound to pitch for your life. He helped the Red Sox and the Diamondbacks win the World Series. But he says and seems to believe really stupid and angry stuff. Nobody liked him.

Personally, I think all three are Hall of Famers and, not that it matters, I don’t care for any of the three, particularly Schilling. As this was the 10th and final year all three were eligible to be on the BBWAA ballot, they are expected to be on the Today’s Game ballot in December.

Perhaps one or all three will be chosen for the Hall of Fame then. Don’t bet on it. Hall of Fame players tend to be harder on nitwit candidates than writers are, even though there are plenty of cads and letches (to put it nicely) already in the Hall of Fame.

Even though I believe all three deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, Schilling not being in bothers me the least, and Clemens bothers me just a little more than that. For whatever reason, out of the blue with old age, I suspect, Bonds not being in bothers me. Here’s why:

It is so much more than irksome that the Commissioner of Baseball at the time, who winked-winked, enabled and presided over the entire notorious steroids era, Bud Selig, has himself been enshrined into the Hall of Fame – by the owners, perhaps to thank him for ending the 1994 season and canceling the World Series for the first time in history.

As for steroids, until Congress became involved, Major League Baseball was content to enable steroids use because it was an enormous impetus in creating higher revenue and television ratings, and brand new ballparks and stadiums that were financed by taxpayers’ dollars.

Neither did it help Bonds’ cause (and this is not to adopt a cause for Barry Bonds) that he was chasing the home run record held by Selig’s very close friend Henry Aaron.

But it’s like this, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens happened. Bonds hit more home runs and won more MVPs than anybody in the world. Clemens won more Cy Youngs than anybody in the world. They are not in the Hall of Fame, and are likely to never be. But they happened.

As ESPN’s Jeff Passan wrote this week, “At the entrance to the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s plaque gallery, a sign hangs to help guide museumgoers through what they’re about to see. The first paragraph talks about how players are in the Hall for ‘their accomplishments in the game.’ The next paragraph says other areas of the museum ‘address the totality of their careers.’ The final paragraph ties it all together: ‘The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s mission is to Preserve History, which is what we seek to do throughout the Museum.’ “

Pete Rose is banned from baseball, as he should be — or at least should have been, seeing how MLB has now sold its soul to online gambling.

Clearly, Pete Rose is and will always be a Hall of Fame baseball player, but what he knowingly violated was the ages-long cardinal sin of baseball (go into any MLB clubhouse or dugout and see how many signs you see reminding you of this) and should have been banned.

But what about now? Will MLB lift his lifetime ban given its own hypocrisy? If so, he will be in the Hall of Fame pronto. But he is not eligible to be in the Hall of Fame if he is not eligible to be in baseball. That’s the Hall of Fame’s rule.

As for Bonds and Clemens, like them or not, you cannot ignore history, even if it’s history you do not like or enjoy.

History is honored at the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It is a museum.

Or so the National Baseball Hall of Fame says.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT