Under those guidelines, Bonds and Clemens don't qualify. Neither does Sammy Sosa, who thankfully will receive only a handful of votes in his first year of eligibility.
Unlike Sosa and Mark McGwire — who at least admitted he used steroids — the odds are that Bonds and Clemens will one day be enshrined in the hall. As the years go by and the stigma of the steroid era fades, they'll gain support among voters and probably make the 75 percent threshold required for admittance.
Unfortunately for some of those on the ballot with them, they may have to wait, too. That includes Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell, whose numbers have to be looked at twice not because they've been accused of wrongdoing but because they were put up in the heart of the Steroids Era.
That may not be fair to them, but the Hall of Fame is an exclusive place where fairness does not always carry the day. How else to explain why the late Roger Maris was never voted in, despite breaking Ruth's home run record with 61, a mark that stood for 37 years before McGwire and Sosa obliterated it in the home run orgy of 1998.
We may never know exactly what Bonds did to hit home runs unlike any human being before him. He's not talking, though a look at the newly svelte slugger today suggests that the change in his body size isn't completely due to his new love of cycling.
Don't expect Clemens to be any more forthcoming, either. Not after a jury in Washington, D.C., sided with him over accusations by former trainer Brian McNamee that he injected the pitcher with human growth hormone to salvage what was left of his good name.
They hurt baseball more than the banned and disgraced Pete Rose ever did by betting on games. Maybe, like Rose, they need some more time before explaining what really happened.
Meanwhile, they'll continue to keep us all hanging, including the sport and fans that made them rich.
Fortunately, baseball writers are in a position to return the favor.
Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg(at)ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg
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