New York — The cloud of steroids hovers above Hall of Fame voting, much like it shrouded baseball in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Tim Raines, in his 10th and final year of eligibility, appears likely to gain election along with Jeff Bagwell when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America voting is announced Wednesday night. Former Tiger Pudge Rodriguez, eligible for the first time, and Trevor Hoffman also could make it.
But along with focusing on the electees, many will study the vote totals of tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.
Bonds, a seven-time MVP who holds the season and career home run records, received 36.2 percent in his initial appearance, in 2013, and 44.3 percent last year. Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, has risen from 37.6 percent in 2013 to 45.2 percent last year.
This year, Bonds is on 62.8 percent of the 219 ballots obtained by Ryan Thibodaux and posted on his Hall of Fame vote-tracker and Clemens on 61.9 percent. That is about half the total, so both project likely to fall short of the 75 percent needed.
But they are gaining momentum.
Peter Gammons of the MLB Network, who joined the BBWAA in 1972, voted for Bonds and Clemens for the first time. He differentiates between players suspected of steroids use before the start of testing with penalties in 2004 and those suspended for drug violations.
“I judge players by their eras and who they played against,” he said Wednesday. “Clemens and Bonds, they were the best pitcher, player of their eras. And while I wrestled with it, I just decided that how do I know who did and who didn’t? … I finally just decided, you know what, they’re so great that they should be in the Hall of Fame because it’s a museum of baseball history.”
The election of former Commissioner Bud Selig by a veterans committee in November impacted the decisions of some because he presided over the era. Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago also voted for the pair for the first time.
“I was hoping that Bonds and Clemens maybe would speak up a little more, talk about what they had done, why they had done it, their feelings on the integrity of the game, their feelings on the Hall of Fame,” Miles said Tuesday. “With the veterans committee electing Bud Selig to the Hall of Fame, I thought it was high time that the standouts from the so-called Steroid Era should join him up on the stage this July.”
Bonds was indicted on charges he lied to a grand jury in 2003 when he denied using PEDs but a jury failed to reach a verdict on three counts he made false statements and convicted him on one obstruction of justice count, finding he gave an evasive answer.
The conviction was overturned appeal in 2015.
Clemens was acquitted last year on one count of obstruction of Congress, three counts of making false statements to Congress and two counts of perjury, all stemming from his denials of drug use.
Around the horn
Alex Rodriguez is no stranger to big money. Now the former Yankees slugger will host a new CNBC show in which he guides financially distressed athletes.
... Josh Hamilton and the Rangers agreed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training.
... Rangers reliever Jake Diekman is expected to miss at least half the season after upcoming surgery to treat colitis, a digestive condition.
Diekman, the top left-hander in the Texas bullpen, has battled the condition throughout his career. Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said the team was aware of the possible surgery and absence before agreeing with Diekman last week on a $2.55 million, one-year contract.