Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame semifinalist Bryant Young loves watching 49ers this season

young-bryant-49ers-ap.jpg
AP

Hall of Fame semifinalist Bryant Young loves watching 49ers this season

Bryant Young left a lasting impact on the 49ers as one of the best players to ever wear the uniform.

There has never been an individual who earned more respect from his teammates, as exemplified by the eight times he was chosen as the winner of the 49ers’ top honor, the Len Eshmont Award for courageous and inspirational play.

Young last week was announced as a semifinalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the first time, making it to the final 25 modern-era candidates for the Class of 2020.

Upon his retirement and being carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates at the conclusion of the 2007 season, Young’s uniform No. 97 was not worn by another 49ers player for a decade.

Now, No. 97 is back making an impact, and Young is excited to see rookie defensive end Nick Bosa wearing the number with distinction.

“It’s kind of weird seeing it flash across the screen,” Young said on The 49ers Insider Podcast. “But I tell you what, he’s representing that number really well and doing a good job in his first year. I’m proud of the job he’s doing with that number.”

Young is the 49ers' all-time sacks leader with 89.5. Bosa has eight sacks in his first NFL season with four games remaining on the regular-season schedule.

But Young was never about numbers, and that perspective is part of what made him special -- on and off the field.

“It’s not the number that makes the person, it’s the person that makes the number,” Young said. “To be able to wear that number for so many years, I hope people remember the person more than they remember the number, and the person and what he did in the community. The person, in terms of how he treated people in the organization and the community.

"And, then, the person as a player.”

Young coached for several seasons after his retirement as a player. He stepped away from his position as defensive line coach of the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason to spend more time with family in Charlotte, N.C.

He still follows the only NFL organization for which he played. And, of course, he pays particularly close attention to the play of the 49ers’ defensive line.

[RELATED: 49ers would love Ravens rematch in Super Bowl LIV]

“You see things, the chemistry that they have, they understand situational football, and guys are competing from snap to whistle, and that’s really fun to see,” Young said.

“From a fan perspective, it’s really fun to see the Niners are doing a really good job and everybody’s engaged, and it’s fun. And you feel that excitement in the air. They’re fun to watch. You understand from a coach’s standpoint, they have a good group of guys that have been assimilated on that field that really care about each other and play for each other.”

Barry Bonds gains votes but remains far from Hall of Fame induction

bondssadap.jpg
AP

Barry Bonds gains votes but remains far from Hall of Fame induction

SAN FRANCISCO — Once again, Barry Bonds saw small gains in Hall of Fame voting, but it wasn't nearly enough. 

Bonds was listed on 59.1 percent of ballots this year, a bump from his total of 56.4 percent in 2018, but remains well short of the 75 percent required to make the Hall of Fame. This was his seventh time on the ballot, meaning he has just three more years of eligibility.

Four players will be inducted this summer, led by former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who became the first player to be inducted unanimously. Former Mariners star Edgar Martinez easily made it in his final year on the ballot, the late Roy Halladay made it in his first, and longtime Orioles and Yankees ace Mike Mussina made it in his sixth year. 

Bonds, a seven-time MVP and the all-time home run leader, was first on the ballot in 2013, when he got just 36.2 percent of the vote. He dipped to 34.7 percent the next year before going 36.8, 44.3 and 53.8 the next three years. The final jump coincided with Bud Selig, who oversaw the steroid era, getting in, which led many voters to change their minds. 

Bonds has also slightly benefited from younger voters entering the process. According to Ryan Thibodaux’s vote tracker, Bonds was on the ballots of seven of the eight first-time voters who made their choices public before Tuesday’s announcement. Still, it has not been nearly enough. The climb has been slow, and he does not appear to be trending towards induction. 

Bonds and Roger Clemens have always been side by side because of their similar cases. They are all-time greats, worthy of unanimous inclusion if not for PED connections. In recent years, Bonds has mostly stopped commenting publicly about his fate, but he has become more visible in San Francisco. Bonds had his number retired last season as part of an ongoing effort to celebrate his achievements. 

Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent

bondsbakerap.jpg
AP

Baseball Hall of Fame: Dusty Baker supports Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent

The 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame inductees will be announced Tuesday afternoon.

And while Mariano Rivera is a shoo-in to be honored in Cooperstown in July, the big question remains: Are Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens worthy of the prestigious honors?

Well, this will always be a controversial subject, but what about from someone who watched Bonds' career first-hand? Say, his manager?

Dusty Baker witnessed the greatness of Bonds as his manager for a decade, and the two were both inducted into the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

But the big kahuna of Hall of Fames weighs over Bonds like a dark cloud. That dark cloud, of course, is Bonds' link to steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

"Well you know something, everyone talks about the PED use," Baker told Christopher Russo on MLB Network's High Heat on Tuesday. "I was there and I don't know, and I don't think other people know either because when I was a kid I used to say you were innocent until proven guilty. Has Barry ever been proved guilty like any of these guys? Did some of the guys get through the cracks that were guilty? I'm sure, but I mean, you look at these numbers and Barry Bonds is one of the greatest players of all time."

We can have the "did he, didn't he," debate until Bonds and Clemens fall off the ballot of eligibility or for years to come. It won't solve anything, but there is promise for the future for fans who hope to see Bonds get in.

There are glimmers of light shining through the "cracks" of the era that, like it or not, made people talk about baseball again. Voters are supporting Bonds and Clemens more than ever before, and the two may slowly be inching their way toward a plaque. 

Will it happen? At this moment, it appears unlikely. But there's always next year, and the year after that -- and the year after that. 

Our fingers remained crossed.

For five and a half years of Bonds' prestigious career, he shared a dugout with Jeff Kent, who also holds a place on the current ballot. But most of his supporters aren't as loud since, let's be honest, we as humans get too excited when a ball goes over the fence. But Kent's steady numbers at second base, traditionally a position bereft of offense, are still worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. 

Baker was asked about the five-time All-Star and he was very pro-Kent.

"Jeff's a good guy, Jeff didn't talk, but if you could get him to talk, he would burn your ear off," Baker said. "I'm hoping he and Barry get closer if not into the Hall of Fame."

Kent is a career .290 hitter, with 2,461 hits and 377 home runs across 17 seasons. In addition to those All-Star selections, Kent earned MVP honors in 2000 and four Silver Slugger Awards.

Whether those numbers are Hall of Fame-esque is not the issue at hand. It's whether the Hall recognizes Kent's all-around abilities as a player, and it's not looking that way.

Currently, as this blog is being written, Kent holds just 17.1 percent on the ballots that have been submitted with 75 percent needed to get inducted. And he has just a few chances left as well.

But the Bonds/Clemens numbers show it's possible.

"Everyone has something in their game -- Barry didn't have the strongest throwing arm, but he got rid of the ball quickly -- there are very few players, even in the Hall of Fame that are five-tool players."

Baker said he had just finished having a conversation with Hank Aaron earlier that morning, saying all anyone is talking about with Hall discussions is centered around guys with power.

"They don't talk about the intelligence of the game, [Kent's] baseball IQ, they don't talk about what a great defensive player he was, his throwing hand," Baker said.

But those talks need to happen.

[RELATED: Voters are supporting Bonds/Clemens]

"At some point in time, these guys got to get in the Hall of Fame or it's not the complete Hall of Fame."