The next stop for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens on Hall of Fame quest

COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 28: A general view of the freshly installed HOF plaques featuring the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York on July 28 2014. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
COOPERSTOWN, NY - JULY 28: A general view of the freshly installed HOF plaques featuring the 2014 Hall of Fame inductees on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York on July 28 2014. (Photo by Ron Vesely/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
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On the question of the baseball immortality of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the next arbiters are a select panel appointed by the Baseball Hall of Fame itself.

Those panelists will determine which 10 figures will be reviewed by the Today’s Game era committee. That committee, which is composed of 16 Hall of Famers, executives, and veteran media members, will convene in December to consider the credentials of players, managers, and executives who had their major contributions occur between 1987 and 2007.

The catch — there’s always a catch — is that the committee is only empowered to consider the 10 names offered to it by that reviewing panel. And, yes, while the statistics underlying the cases of Bonds, Clemens, Curt Schilling, and Sammy Sosa are imposing, that review panel will have abundant other legitimate options if it prefers to let any or all of them idle for a while.

And It would likely be just a while. Hall rules require the Today’s Game committee to meet twice every five years. This committee will vote again in December of 2024.

Even assuming that at some point the names of those four are placed on the ballot, their election is no foregone conclusion. Committee members are only allowed to vote for a maximum of four of the 10 candidates, with 12 of the 16 members required to agree in order to elect someone. That means that if as few as five of the committee members oppose the election of any candidate, they hold an absolute veto.

The Today’s Game committee is the panel that a few years ago somewhat notoriously elected Harold Baines (along with Lee Smith), so nothing can be taken for granted.

Besides, there is a backlog of potential ballot candidates who could be considered in December, further fueling the idea of delaying consideration of Bonds, Clemens, and others. That backlog — about two dozen names deep — includes, but is not limited to:

  • Players such as Fred McGriff, Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy, Bernie Williams, Kenny Lofton, Will Clark, Kevin Brown,  Johan Santana, Joe Carter, and Will Clark
  • Managers such as Lou Piniella, Charlie Manuel, Bruce Bochy, and Jim Leyland
  • Umpires-executives such as George Steinbrenner and Joe West

Next. Aside from Ortiz, Hall voters were tough on ballot rookies in 2022. dark

Given that the election of any of those longer-suffering candidates would not come as a surprise, it would also come as no surprise if Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and others were made to wait until 2024 or later even to be considered.