Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are gaining HOF momentum. But columnist Matt Calkins says he can never vote for obvious steroid users.

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Show me a new sabermetric and I’m fascinated. I love talking WAR, FIP and wRC, and am grateful these stats exist to help better measure a player’s value.

Show me a bat flip and I’m entertained. Every other sport seems to embrace celebrations, and I think baseball players should have the freedom to let loose without fearing payback in the form of a fastball.

Show me an unwritten rule and I’m annoyed. Such codes, like not bunting to break up a no-hitter, are antiquated and silly and generally in defiance of common sense.

In other words, I tend to think like most young writers when it comes to all things MLB. Except when it comes to voting likely steroid users into the Hall of Fame. That I couldn’t get behind.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are gaining HOF momentum in a manner many couldn’t fathom when they were first placed on the ballot in 2013. At 54.1 percent (Clemens) and 53.8 percent (Bonds), they are each up nine percentage points from last year and about 18 points up from their first year of eligibility.

More strikingly, 11 of the 12 first-year voters listed on gave Bonds and Clemens their vote, which suggests those numbers are going to soar in the coming years. Why?

Actually, there are multiple reasons why. The first is that there isn’t always concrete proof as to who used PEDs, who didn’t, and when or if they stopped. There are often clear indicators — such as an inexplicable gains in size and production, but voters feel that if they’re going to play judge and jury, they better have irrefutable evidence.

The second is that PED users were ubiquitous for much of the 1980s and ’90s. “Everybody was doing it!” is one common refrain. “You’re just going to leave an entire era out of Cooperstown?!” is another.

People argue that while Bonds, Clemens and other titans of that time might have been cheating, they were also putting up peerless numbers against an entire league of cheaters.

But I still stand by my steroid-exclusion stance and plan to honor it when I get a vote. And I don’t think I’m moralizing from a high horse when I say that — I think I’m just being fair.

One of the primary defenses for players in the steroid era is that they were using PEDs before testing was implemented. But it’s not as if players just had syringes sitting in their lockers like it was protein powder. Steroids were still illegal without a prescription, and users knew what they were doing was wrong. You wouldn’t see everyone who was eventually caught lying about it if they didn’t.

Additionally, you wouldn’t see many players choosing not to use PEDs if it wasn’t going to take a toll on their consciences. Perhaps some were deterred by the health risks, but you have to think the majority of clean players knew it was an ethical violation to inject an illegal drug into their systems for the sake of spiking their performances.

And the clean players? They suffered for their actions.

Steroids weren’t something that just gave its users a little extra confidence or added a couple points to their batting averages. They turned users into superheroes by adding 20 home runs to their annual dinger counts or 8 miles an hour to their fastballs.

A colleague and I were arguing about this issue a couple days ago when he said “MLB hasn’t taken away these guys’ numbers, so what gives writers the right to keep them out of the Hall?” My response was that he’s right — MLB is not taking away their stats. It is not taking away their team’s wins, and it is certainly not taking away the millions of dollars they earned because of a conscious choice to cheat. So in that sense, the only real repercussion they can face is being denied the most prestigious distinction in the game.

And as far as smoking-gun evidence, that isn’t necessary, either. As Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci pointed out, these guys aren’t going to prison if they’re left out of the Hall.

If a writer observed a former nobody pack on 30 pounds out of the blue, then go on to have five All-Star seasons with an acne farm on his back, he’s free to connect the dots. And while there are no doubt a few witch-hunters out there looking to leave anyone out they can, most voters take great pride in their responsibility and want to be as fair as possible.

So that’s my perspective. And like any controversial subject, I’m willing to listen to the other side of the argument. Right now, though, I don’t see my view changing.

Time tends to make a lot of things better, but it shouldn’t make cheating OK.