There was a time when Robinson Cano was the best second baseman in baseball and treading a direct path to the Hall of Fame. He assembled some of the best statistics for anyone who has ever played the position.
Then he found his way into baseball’s underground, suspended twice for using performance enhancing drugs. Now the only way he’ll ever get into Cooperstown is by buying a ticket.
Cano’s second suspension will cost him a fancy $24 million salary next season and effectively closes the book on him. If only we could say the same thing for old pals Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds.
Clemens and Bonds are like bad pennies. They keep showing up on the Hall of Fame ballot which was distributed to baseball writers who vote in that election this week.
This is the ninth year on the ballot for each of them, both equipped with statistics that sound like automatic election – 354 victories and seven Cy Young Awards for Clemens, 762 home runs and seven MVP awards for Bonds. They would have been elected long ago if not for suspicion that they, like Cano, had used funny stuff to inflate their numbers.
The irony of that is both Clemens and Bonds both had Hall of Fame credentials before they ever decided that they could win even more games or hit even more home runs with the help of PEDs.
Both were implicated but never suspended but the suspicions never went away, amplified by moments of rage that they occasionally displayed.
Perhaps the most dramatic occurred in the 2000 World Series when Clemens was pitching for the Yankees against the Mets. Facing Mike Piazza, a longtime nemesis whom he had beaned earlier, Clemens displayed what many believed was ‘roid rage.
Piazza splintered a bat on a foul ball. The barrel landed at Clemens’ feet. The pitcher angrily threw the splintered bat at Piazza. Not friendly.
So Roger, what was that all about, he was asked.
“I didn’t know if it was a bat or a ball,’’ the pitcher explained.
You would think a pitcher’s intimate relationship with baseballs would enable him to tell the difference between one of those and the barrel of a bat. But that was Clemens’ story and he stuck with it. He was fined $50,000 for the episode.
When Clemens and Bonds first showed up on the Hall ballot, they were not embraced by the voters. They have slowly moved up and last year Clemens had 61 percent and Bonds 60.7 of the 75 percent required for election.
They each have one more year of eligibility after this one. That’s more of a chance than two-time PED loser Robinson Cano will ever have.
Photo: Edmund J Szalajeski/Icon Sportswire