Jeff Passan says HOF voters will have ‘failed’ if Barry Bonds isn’t elected
Hours before baseball is set to unveil its 2022 Hall of Fame class, MLB insider Jeff Passan issued a call to action, urging members of the BBWAA (Baseball Writers’ Association of America) to elect Barry Bonds in his final year of eligibility. In an opinion piece for ESPN , Passan delivered a strong message, warning that keeping Bonds out of Cooperstown would represent an “abject failure” on the part of voters, many of whom have been reluctant to endorse the former Giants slugger due to his alleged PED use. Passan’s explanation is simple—legitimate or not, the story of baseball can’t be told without Bonds, MLB’s all-time home run king and, by most accounts, the greatest player to ever live.
“Messing with history is a dangerous game, especially coming from a group entrusted with writing it. But that's what the BBWAA will do if it fails to elect Bonds today,” writes Passan, arguing that Bonds’ exclusion is hypocritical of a sport that turned a blind eye to steroid use for decades. “We can spend all the time in the world wishing it were less complicated, straightforward, black and white, a hero's journey. That doesn't always happen.”
Bonds, in all likelihood, cheated. So did hundreds, if not thousands of others who played in his era, some of whom may already be in the Hall of Fame (Ivan Rodriguez, Jeff Bagwell, Mike Piazza and the soon-to-be elected David Ortiz have all been subject to steroid speculation at one time or another). Audacy’s own Jon Heyman, who voted for Bonds but not Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa or Manny Ramirez, presented the argument that Bonds had a Hall of Fame career before PEDs transformed him from a scrawny, 185-pound leadoff man to his final form as a cartoonishly muscular, middle-of-the-lineup terror.
But ultimately, the Bonds debate, at least for Passan, comes down to preserving history. Whatever your moral stance is on steroids, Passan feels voters who refuse to acknowledge Bonds are setting a dangerous precedent, ignoring an uncomfortable conversation about baseball’s troubled past.
“The simple truth is that Barry Bonds is the story of the steroid era. He is a player whose physical gifts knew no limits—and whose desire for something beyond greatness took him to a place he never needed to go,” says Passan, who expects Bonds to again fall short of the required 75 percent of votes. “His greed mirrored the league's: the ceaseless pursuit of bigger, better, more. This is the history that demands to be told.”
After denying him for nine years, will the Hall finally open its doors to Bonds, or will the seven-time MVP follow the path of other disgraced stars like Mark McGwire and Pete Rose, forever marginalized as an unwelcome outsider in the sport he once dominated? We’ll know at about 6 PM ET.