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Was just driving my car, listening to Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts on WFAN. Have much respect for both guys … think their show is significantly less ego-driven than those hosted by Mike Francesa or Mike & Mike.

That said, I was screaming at the radio as I heard both men say Barry Bonds deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Their arguments were familiar: He was an unparalleled hitter. He was great pre-steroids/HGH. His personality shouldn’t be a factor. Etc … Etc.

Sigh.

Barry Bonds doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. Not even in the Hall of Some Fame. Or Hall of Moderate Fame. I’m not sure what happened in this country … when, at some point, it became OK to accept cheating. Perhaps it has to do with volume—sooo many people have cheated that we started grading the level of cheats. If, say, Alex Sanchez took steroids, it’s somehow worse than Bonds, because the drugs probably made him a major leaguer. Bonds merely used the stuff as enhancers.

It’s all rubbish.

Here is, literally, what the Hall of Fame lists as its criteria:

Voting: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

Interity. Sportsmanship. Character. I’ve bolded those words for a reason. Think about it. Really, really think about it. Using that criteria—the stated, understood criteria—how can anyone knowingly vote for someone who cheated? I don’t care if Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire or Sammy Sosa hit 1,000 home runs and batted .700 for the first 10 years of their careers. As soon as they chose to cheat—to violate the law of the United States in an effort to enhance their careers—they deemed themselves ineligible.

We all face tough choices in life, not all that different than the ones confronting ballplayers. As a journalist, if I’m struggling in the midst of crippling writer’s block, do I copy the work of others? As a doctor, do I over-bill the insurance company, even though I didn’t perform the listen procedure? As a student, do I sit diagonally behind the smart kid and copy his answers? As a cop, do I file a faulty report to make myself look better?

Maybe the answers are murky, maybe they’re not. Maybe circumstances matter.

But, come day’s end, we as a society do not reward deception, and never have.

Now is not the time to start.

Jeff Pearlman is a writer.