SAN DIEGO — Sunday night represented a new chance at the Hall of Fame for Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, but it was the old same result as both were denied entry to Cooperstown for the 11th time.
This particular path was provided by the Contemporary Baseball Era committee, a 16-member panel designed to consider candidates passed over by the BBWAA, which had been the barrier for MLB’s two most notorious alleged PED cheats for the previous decade. But Clemens and Bonds failed to have any better luck with a group composed of Hall of Famers, baseball executives and media members, with each of them earning fewer than four votes (12 is required for induction).
Fred McGriff was the only one of the eight candidates to earn induction at next summer’s ceremony; he was a unanimous pick by the committee. Next on that list was Don Mattingly, who received eight votes, followed by Curt Schilling (seven) and Dale Murphy (six). Albert Belle and Rafael Palmeiro, like Clemens and Bonds, each had fewer than four.
McGriff, a five-time All-Star who played for six teams in his 19-year career, was considered to be one of the more glaring omissions by the BBWAA. He finished with 493 home runs and totaled at least 100 RBIs eight times. McGriff won a World Series with Atlanta in 1995 and also placed in the top 10 of the MVP voting six times.
As for Clemens and Bonds, this committee represented the opportunity to be judged by a new pool of voters, but a smaller jury didn’t work in their favor, as many anticipated would be the case. These special committees, which are tasked to consider players from different eras, tend to be more exclusive than the BBWAA block, which includes approximately 400 voters (and 75% needed for induction).
It was only 11 months ago that Bonds and Clemens fell off the BBWAA ballot after failing to reach the Cooperstown threshold during the previous decade. Bonds received 66.0% of the vote and Clemens earned 65.2%.
Last January, David Ortiz — the only one of the three who actually tested positive for a banned substance (during MLB’s non-penalty, supposedly anonymous survey testing in 2003) — was elected with 77.9% of the vote.
Bonds, a seven-time Most Valuable Player, is the sport’s career leader in home runs with 762 and the single-season record-holder with 73 in 2001.
Clemens owns seven Cy Young Awards, ranks third on the all-time strikeout list (4,672) behind Hall of Famers Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson, and is the only 300-game winner (354) not in Cooperstown.
This was Mattingly’s third try, and the former Yankees captain — recently hired as the Blue Jays’ bench coach — doesn’t seem to be getting much closer to Cooperstown. In 2015, he appeared on only 9.1% of the ballots in his 15th and final year of BBWAA eligibility, then later earned seven out of 16 votes from the 2017 Modern Era committee. This time he increased his total by only one.
Schilling figured to improve his chances with the Contemporary Baseball Era committee after repeatedly damaging his candidacy with the BBWAA and ultimately requesting to be taken off the ballot altogether (it was denied).
While Schilling would seem to have Cooperstown credentials as a six-time All-Star and three-time World Series champion with 3,116 career strikeouts and one of the best postseason resumes in history (11-2, 2.23 ERA), his threatening political rants appeared to sour his sales pitch.