Since Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have been eligible for the Hall of Fame, Bonds has received fewer votes than Clemens. This makes no sense. Both are easily in the top-10 in baseball history for their respective roles. Both probably used all sorts of chemicals to gain an advantage. Both of them were indicted for perjury. They can't be more similar. Yet there are ding-dongs who vote for one, but not the other.
Let's examine these ding-dongs. Murray Chass is a noted anti-PED voter, but at least he's consistent. At least it's an ethos. And Chass wanted to learn about the folks who voted for Clemens but not Bonds, and he also found two voters who chose Bonds over Clemens. Here's what he found, starting with a pro-Bonds, anti-Clemens voter:
"I went back and forth with Barry," he said. "With Barry, we have a clear line of demarcation when he started using ‘roids. The physical changes are noticeable. His head gets bigger. His body gets bigger. He’s hulk like. We are pretty sure when he started juicing. He was already a Hall of Famer when he started.
"Clemens we don’t know."
Okay, so that's the "was he a Hall of Famer before he used?" strategy, which is much more sensible than the black-and-white decision to punish everyone who used under any circumstances. The former is interested in how much steroids help a player play baseball. The latter is used by people who think the Hall of Fame is nothing more than a reward for good behavior and good performance, a cookie at the end of a great career. I get the first one, not the second one. I strongly disagree with the idea that Clemens wasn't a Hall of Famer before PEDs, but I can appreciate the distinction.
Time to check in with the pro-Clemens, anti-Bonds voter!
So this year I deemed there were numerous strong candidates and decided to invoke the character clause with Bonds, deeming him a jerk who perhaps doesn’t meet Hall standards.
Bonds was deemed a jerk. Mm-hmm.
This is a silly reason not to vote for someone, but on a crowded ballot, I might see it being better than a coin flip. Here's my problem, though: this isn't a question about Bonds vs. Roided Up Kirk Rueter, a player everyone's smitten with off the field. This is Bonds vs. Clemens. I don't doubt that Bonds was a surly malcontent to everyone from batboys to elected officials, and I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to share a studio apartment with him on a six-month lease. But if I'm going through a short list of players I wouldn't prefer to Bonds in that apartment, Clemens is on it. He might lead the list.
With Bonds, I got a sense of an eternal war in his brain, a need to be loved and a sensitivity that manifested itself into appalling arrogance. That's why the new, Google Glassin' image is so appealing. Let's check in with Bonds's Twitter account to see what his latest baseball-related thought is:
Happy Birthday Uncle Mac. I LOVE YOU pic.twitter.com/66d7kcpVR2— Barry L Bonds (@BarryBonds) January 11, 2015
This is the new Bonds. So danged full of love. So seemingly at peace.
With Clemens, I got a sense of durrrr in his brain, a need to durrrr and a hurrrr that manifested itself into fuhfuhferp. I don't see a complex jerk. I see a jerk. Maybe that's because I'm biased, and maybe it's because I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in Bonds's world, but very few in Clemens's. But here we are, parsing jerks. Pretty sure they're both jerks in their own ways. Voting for one jerk over the other jerk because of greater jerkishness? That's just looking for an excuse.
That last voter Chass interviewed was Mike Fine. Well, I for one refuse to read any more of his baseball wr ... oh, retired? You don't say. At least he explained it, though. It's a ludicrous explanation, but at least that's one fewer pro-Clemens/anti-Bonds voter to keep us up at night like a riddle we just can't solve. There are at least nine more out there (since we know of at least two who voted for Bonds and not Clemens), and they're all Schedule A hallucinogenic human beings. They make no sense.
Except, I wonder if there's another difference between Bonds and Clemens, something that's easy to spot just by looking at them, a noticeable difference that roots into the subconscious of folks who believe they're good people, but can't fight what's been reinforced by almost every public institution for hundreds of years.
We'll have to leave that one for the sabermetricians, I guess.
Unless the Hall/BBWAA makes every ballot public, we'll never know exactly who's voting for Clemens but not Bonds. Until then, please don't speculate on if they're all old, retired writers who haven't covered the game in years. Why, that's just not productive. Instead, just be as confused as the rest of us. Because even when they explain it, it doesn't make an atom of sense.