I have said a few things in the past about steroids, but for the most part I stay mum on the subject. Much of what is said and argued bothers me, but there is nothing for me to do so why throw my hat into the mix. It has come to a point with the hall of fame that I would like to discuss a few points and possibly vent a little if I can.
Let me start off with a little background. I used to play college baseball at a small school in central PA. I was 175 and could bench 450 with a 4.5 40. I am not stating this to brag, but simply to make a point. I never touched a steroid in my life. My diet included chocolate milk shakes and pretzels. I was simply a very gifted German boy who lived in the gym. The point is, not one person that ever saw me play didn't assume I was on steroids. There was no reference point for them to come to that conclusion, but when you have a kid with that much muscle.... it is obvious they are on steroids. It sounds pretty stupid that people would come to such a conclusion based on seeing someone one time. Almost as stupid as...."He has back hair", "He worked out with such and such and he obviously takes." Now I could have cared less about what people thought, I actually took it as a compliment that people were convinced I couldn't do it naturally. The difference is I had nothing to prove to anyone. None of my accolades were up for speculation. I can imagine though, if my school would have a hall of fame voted on by outside sources, and I didn't get in based on what people thought..... I would be pretty upset.
So does that mean they are making a mountain out of an ant hill? No, I have done papers in college on steroids and how plentiful they are. I did an interview with the cousin of a certain pair of brothers(not the Cansecos) who told me all about the change she saw in them. How it was hard to decipher whether the change was coming from the steroids, or the buttloads of money they were rolling in now. I saw steroids in high school, in college and know of many minor league players who were using. There was no surprise to me when Canseco came out with his book and said how many players were using. Of course the majors, minors and everywhere on down was looking to get an edge.
So and so just inked a major contract for hitting 5 more homeruns last year than I did... how can I hit those extra 5 and make the big time bucks.
Last year I broke down with about 20 games left to go... how can I make sure I don't do that this season.. I am up for a contract.(You can't tell me that if James Macdonald could take something to make his stuff look just as nasty at the end of the season and keep his concentration longer into season that he wouldn't take it in a heart beat). And I am not throwing Jmac under the bus saying I think he is the type of person who would cheat. He is just a good example of a player who broke down toward the end of the season. You can see how many pitchers would be quick to alleviate that aspect to their season.
So and so just got called up... last year I was hitting better than him and on the fast track. I know he started using and now he is getting the call up.
Believe me, 10 years ago there were more reasons to take steroids than not to. One of those major reasons was in fact the writers. Writers glorified the "power era" 100mph fast balls vs big thunderous bats. It is what fans wanted to see, it is what writers wanted to write about and it is what players wanted to achieve. So many writers knew what was going on, you couldn't not know. Sure you can buy the ignorance is bliss case if you want to, but writers knew what was going on. They wrote about it anyway. As long as no one got caught, this is what brought the big ratings in. What did they have to lose? They weren't going to be held accountable as anything more than enablers(and how would you prove that) and even more so, it would give them more to write about after the ceiling caved in. It was perfect. The money was good all the way around, so boost these players up and then when things get dicey, throw them under the bus and have even more to write about.
Now we fast forward to today when these same enabling writers play judge and jury to how we view these players. Not only do they decide to completely throw the steroid users under the bus and run over them, they also decide that it is too wide spread so we are just going to drive over the whole damn lot of players. Players like Biggio who few would suspect of steroids gets lumped in for playing at a certain time. We don't take a step back and say hey maybe what he did was really special. The pitchers volume was up a tick in this era, the CF was just a little faster to the gap, the catcher was just a little faster to second base.... and this guy still did all of the things he did. You can speculate all you want... Maybe Jeff Bagwell took, maybe Frank Thomas took, maybe Greg Maddox shot up the last month of the season just so he didn't wear his arm out, maybe Biggio took the last couple of seasons he played, but speaking as a person who played clean and who everyone thought was using, when judgement day comes.... it just isn't right to throw out a blanket of speculation.
I would hope the writers get taken to task(who the hell voted for no one other than aaron sele) and they change the way the Hall of Fame is decided. Jim Bowden said it best. It is a museum to appreciate the great things of baseball. When I take my kids and grandkids, I hope the greatest things in baseball are still in there.