In the all-knowing eyes of MLB, the use of performance enhancing drugs is a challenge to the game’s very soul. Those who have been caught in the last 20 years have been found guilty and have been metaphorically hung by a never relenting media,
To read about this problem and the players blackballed along the way, victims in my mind of modern day McCarthyism, where everyone who could not prove they were not a communist, was assumed to be one.
Hearing about steroids in baseball now, you would think that it cropped up in the last 20 years or so. With a minimal amount of Googling we can trace doping in baseball back all the way to the 19th century. We can find reports of players using amphetamines (called greenies back in the day) going way back throughout the 20th century. There are old tales of greenies being passed around locker rooms like candy. It was not just fringe players that tried them briefly or used them repeatedly. Names like Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron Willie Mays and many other sacred gods of baseball, worshipped by millions to this day, were linked to amphetamines.
There have been many great players. just as good as Mantle, Aaron and Mays, who have been blackballed and kept out of baseball’s hallowed Hall of Fame, Yet, this is a Hall that has welcomed the likes of Ty Cobb, a blatant racist who had no use whatsoever for blacks. He even physically assaulted black people many times, without really any repercussions. I find the utter hypocrisy to be disgusting.
There are many players who have been affected by this undeclared ban—Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriquez, Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa were some of the bigger names. I could go on and on with this, but a career recap showing some of the accomplishments of three of these magnificent players will suffice. Similar stories can be told of many more.
- Played for 24 seasons and started 707 games, finishing with a 354-184 career record
- 11-time All Star, two-time World Series Champ, seven-time Cy Young winner
- Six seasons winning 20 games or more
- Career ERA of 3.12
- 118 complete games pitched
- Racked up 4, 672 K’s in his 24 years of pitching
When you consider that he was accused of using anabolic steroids late in illustrious career in an attempt to extend that career, how did it really affect his overall body of work? Nowadays players are suspended for 80 games. Quick, without looking, who were the last five players to be suspended for PEDs? I know; I cannot name any either. Today, it is no big deal. 50 or 60 years ago those greenies were no big deal. Think about that as we continue down memory lane.
- Played for 16 seasons and had 6,187 career at bats
- 12-time All Star, two-time World Series Champ
- Scored 1,167 runs
- Hit 583 HRs in his 16-season career
- Batted in 1,414 runs
All these accomplishments alone would be enough to earn McGwire baseball immortality, but the crowning moment of his career came in 1998 when he hit 70 HRs, only to be surpassed by Barry Bonds, another victim of baseball hypocrisy, in 2001with 73. For a few years back then, McGwire, Bonds and Sammy Sosa made 60+ HRs look like an easy target and baseball was exciting.
- Had a 22-year career with 10,566 ABs
- 14-time All Star, one-time World Series Champ, seven-time AL MVP
- Hit 696 career HRs
- Batted in 2,086 runs
- In the 3,000-hit club with 3,119
- Career batting average of .296
Everything about Rodriquez screams Hall of Fame, except the voters. His numbers are incredible.
These three players and many more were, in my humble opinion, screwed over by a MLB hierarchy applying a double standard. Similar to the confusing life-time ban, following an original two-game suspension given to NFL star Ray Rice a few years back, only to be followed by the six-game suspension given Ezekiel Elliott last year, these players have been punished far in excess of their imprudent steroid use.
Now we move forward to 2018. With several hundred players in MLB and thousands playing in the minors, do you really believe that some of the top pitchers and hitters are not using PEDs? Doping in baseball has gone on for about 150 years. In this day of remarkable pharmaceutical breakthroughs, what are the odds that everyone not being caught are squeaky clean?
It is clear that this has been and will continue to be a part of the game. The NFL has times when they test and players are untested the rest of the time. You have to be pretty dumb to get caught under that system. When was the last time you heard of an NBA or NHL player being suspended for any kind of drugs? Do you think PEDs aren’t used by hockey or basketball players.
There are stories going back to the Babe Ruth days of amphetamines and drunken all-nighters by MLB players. These guys are not seminarians studying to be men of God. They are human beings playing games to entertain us.
Babe Ruth is an immortal hero, the epitome of what baseball is all about. If he were judged for anything but his performance on the field, some of the shine might be seen falling off his star.
Let us judge athletes by their actions and performances on the field. They play to entertain us as fans, nothing more and nothing less. I say that MLB should empower a special commission and vote in these great players that have been excluded expeditiously. Any Hall of Fame that includes racist jackasses like Ty Cobb in its membership cannot exclude these great players.
But wait, now I see the problem. These players have hurt the image of MLB, a group of white, wealthy owners who reluctantly let Jackie Robinson and other blacks play. They finally determined that these black players were so good, they would pad their wallets even more by reluctantly allowing them to play.
Professional sports are far from being a game. Collectively, they are an industry generating billions of dollars for fat-cat owners. Give the players their due. Use the Hall of Fame to reward extraordinary play and entertainment value, not to promote great behavior and citizenship.
People care about winning. Period. In 2018, that is the name of the game.
Good luck! Have fun!