2022 Baseball Hall of Fame Induction Reaction

Opinion posted January 26, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Matthew McLaughlin

The Hall of Fame has become a ‘Hall of Hypocrisy’.

With iconic and controversial names like Barry Bonds and Curt Schilling facing their last years of eligibility on the writers ballot, along with new faces attempting to get in on their first attempts, fans eagerly awaited the announcement of the 2022 Hall of Fame Class.

Who would finally get a plaque in Cooperstown? Just one guy. The only inductee for the 2022 class is former Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, which leaves the Hall with more questions than answers.

Ortiz Rightfully a First-Ballot?

First off, Ortiz is one of the best designated hitters of all time, no question. Add in the fact that he’s won three World Series titles while never hitting below 20 home runs after the 2000 season.

Ortiz’s induction as a first-ballot Hall of Famer is up for discussion, though.

On the all time wins above replacement (WAR) list, “Big Papi” is tied at No. 244 with 55.3 WAR, barely above former Twins catcher Joe Mauer by a tenth of a point. This doesn’t eliminate Ortiz’s clutch performances as he remains the only player to hit multiple walkoff home runs in a single postseason, BUT Ortiz’s link to a positive steroid test in 2003 muddies the water.

Ortiz’s induction was inevitable but when Bonds is on the ballot for the final time and the BBWA has made a clear point to not induct players suspected of steroids, Ortiz joining Cooperstown feels diluted.

It feels like Ortiz’s induction is based on his personality, charisma and welcoming approach to the media, which in turn, shifts the attention away from what Ortiz and Bonds both did on the diamond.

The Bonds Dilemma

There’s no doubt about Bonds’ talent. In 1998, Bonds became the first player to ever to reach the club of 400 career home runs and 400 career stolen bases, but the feat got lost in the pageantry of the McGwire-Sosa home run chase that same summer.

Before the 2000 season, Bonds earned three MVP trophies but only hit 46 dingers for his career high. Then, his body transformed into a massive freight truck and Bonds went on a run of five straight seasons with 40 home runs or more, he shattered records for most home runs in a season (73) and career home runs (762) and collected FOUR STRAIGHT MVP trophies in San Francisco.

Bonds’ entire career has been questioned due to suspected steroid use.

Since he retired in 2008, everything associated with Bonds is doubted. Every record, every award. All of it has an asterisk or a question mark, and the feeling of betrayal from fans and media at the time is completely understandable.

But when a man who brought new life into the sport is eligible to be inducted into a museum that is designed to tell the story of said sport is rejected and labeled as an outcast and villain of the sport by writers who are using the Hall’s completely subjective “Character Clause” as a the sword to cut out Bonds’ legs from beneath him and erase him from the sport’s history, that is a failure not on the BBWA or the Hall alone but the sport as a whole.

Bonds should not be erased from baseball’s past. If Ortiz, who allegedly tested positive in 2003 and Bud Selig, the commissioner who avoided action against steroids because it was beneficial for the sport, can reach Cooperstown, then the man who changed the entire sport deserves to tell his story.

Overall, controversy isn’t what the Hall should be known for. It should be a vault of baseball’s history, both good and bad, to teach fans about the evolution of the game.

Instead, the BBWA has propped itself up as a gatekeeper that will only allow the players that they like rather than the players that changed the game on the diamond.

Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email mem6936@psu.edu.