Barry Bonds is back.
Baseball's all-time home run king is in uniform again as the Miami Marlins' new batting coach.
It's Bonds' first full-time MLB job since 2007. He joined manager Don Mattingly's staff this winter. It was a major move that got a lot of buzz. That's a good thing. It can only help him as his quest to get into the Hall of Fame continues.
It's not the record 762 home runs that's the problem. It's the link to performance-enhancing drugs that has hindered the former San Francisco star slugger.
In this past Hall of Fame voting by the baseball writers, Bonds got 44.3 percent. It's an uptick from years earlier, but still not close to the 75 percent needed to make it.
Nonetheless, Bonds is convinced he belongs.
"God knows I'm a Hall of Famer," Bonds told the media on Saturday. "I know that I'm a Hall of Fame player. I don't really need to get into that. I'll leave that to you guys to make the determination. But in my fraternity, in Major League Baseball, there's not one player that ever could sit there and say that I'm not one. There's not a coach who ever coached me that says I'm not one."
Enter Ken Griffey Jr.
Bonds got a positive endorsement from Griffey Jr., who was just elected to The Hall and will be enshrined this summer in Cooperstown, New York.
"Yeah, I think that overall, when you look at what people have done, yeah," Junior told SNBayArea.com. "It's not my vote, so I can't vote for him. But if you look at what he's done, those numbers speak for themselves."
Bonds and Griffey are both right. It seems as if sports writers are coming around as well. First, many vowed to never elect a player linked with PED's.
But this January, Mike Piazza made it after his fourth year on the ballot. Piazza is now the first official, known performance-enhancing drug user to be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
This will help Bonds. If not, it would be the ultimate double-standard.
Bonds has been on the ballot for four years. This year, he got 195 votes. He has six more tries before his name comes off the ballot forever.
Piazza's election is big for the Steroid Era players. A few years ago in his autobiography, Piazza admitted to taking PED’s during his playing career. The Androstenedione he took back then is now on MLB's banned PED list.
And, Piazza, like Bonds, never tested positive during their playing days.
You could see Piazza's selection coming. Last year, he got just under 70%. This year, Piazza needed 330 of the 440 votes cast, and got 365 for 83%.
In fact, Piazza's vote total had steadily gone up, giving fans reason to believe that maybe some of the baseball writers had softened their stance against players associated with PED's.
For years now, many baseball writers were caught up in punishing the Steroid Era players. It made many blur the lines and skew the facts when it came to picking the best players ever.
It finally appears as if the Steroid Era won't be ignored or treated as if it didn't happen. Piazza hit 427 home runs during that time.
If his home runs count for the Hall of Fame, Bonds' should as well.
Bonds is the all-time home run hitter. He also won seven MVP's, has a career .298 batting average and knocked in 1,996 runs. It should all count.
And it's from those numbers that you are supposed to vote for the Hall of Fame.
Piazza's selection has to validate the Steroid Era, making everything count. You can't fudge it, or pick and chose what numbers you want to say are legit.
For the last four years, some writers simply ignored the obvious eye test, especially when it came to Bonds. He was a great player in Pittsburgh as a skinny kid and a great player as a bulky veteran in San Francisco.
I have voted for Bonds from his first year of eligibility and will continue. At one point, I thought that vote would be in vain. But no longer.
Bonds is back in baseball. There's a positive light on him again. Hopefully, that light will remind people what a great player he was, one worthy of the Hall of Fame.