The great “Steroid Debate” is center-stage again in baseball thanks to Hall-of-Fame outfielder Reggie Jackson.
Jackson, always available for a great opinion and quote, stirred the pot this week and its ingredients include Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte and a few current members of Cooperstown.
Jackson told SI.com that he thinks Hank Aaron is still the home run king and has questions about Rodriguez’s numbers and he knows that several current members of the Hall of Fame wouldn’t attend if one of the PED users got in.
Let’s hit rewind on the cassette.
In the spring of 1977, Jackson made headlines when he told Sport Magazine that he was the “straw that stirs the drink.” Reggie was a newcomer to the Yankees that year and his comments irked Yankee Captain Thurman Munson and several other Yankees.
In essence, Jackson’s comments ostracized the slugger from his teammates before Opening Day.
Now, 35 years later, “Mr. October” was No. 1 in trending on several search engines because he spoke his mind only as Reggie can do.
Jackson opened himself to the barbs by any blogger or twit-head with an account and an opinion.
Most of these blog-heads never saw the slugger during his hey-day, even hundreds of “established” writers never witnessed Jackson in action.
One thing that bothers me about this generation is the lack of knowledge people have for the past, and in baseball, yesterday is as important as today.
So when two-time World Series MVP Reggie Jackson speaks, we should all do an “E.F. Hutton” and listen (YouTube for those who have no idea what I’m talking about).
When Jackson retired in 1987, he was in sixth-place on the all-time home run list with 563. Now, 25 years later, Reggie sits at a lonesome No. 13.
Seven players have passed Jackson, five have been linked to steroids, and only Ken Griffey Jr. and Jim Thome appear clean.
It’s been seven years since Mark McGwire took the stand and decided not to say anything about his PED use. Then Rafael Palmeiro had the audacity to point his finger and strenuously say he never used the juice – only to get busted shortly after.
Baseball certainly has done much about this dark era in baseball history, but a few things still need to be done:
- An asterisk needs to be put next to the record of those linked to PED’s
- Bud Selig, who makes close to $20 million a year for his role as commissioner, should resign – about seven years too late
- The baseball writers need to hold the abusers accountable and prevent them from their place in Cooperstown
In 2005, I felt as passionate about the writer’s obligation in this as I do now. They are like the Grail Knight guarding the chalice in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”
They have an obligation to hold players to the highest standard and the last time I checked, “sportsmanship” and “integrity” were part of the criteria.
As far as Reggie’s comments on Gary Carter and Jim Rice, he’s not that way off base. It took the writers years to finally vote them into the Hall of Fame. But I will say this – Rice was one of the most feared hitters of his generation and Gary Carter stood alone as the best catcher during his time in baseball. As far as Bert Blyleven and Don Sutton, great careers, but no Tom Seaver or Bob Gibson and I think that’s what Reggie was getting at.
As great as Kirby Puckett was, his career was cut short and his induction opens the door for other candidates like a Don Mattingly, who had similar offensive numbers and equal if not better at fielding his position.
Phil Niekro, 318 wins – should have been first-ballot HOFer.
Keep the quotes coming Reggie, and as Howard Cosell would say: “Tell it like it is.”
Mike Damergis is a Media Director & Radio Professor for Iona College in New Rochelle, N.Y. Mike ‘s career started with WNEW AM & FM in 1987, as a desk assistant for legendary DJ Scott Muni. He got his big break with the Toronto’s FAN 590 in 1997, when he was named the afternoon producer for Bob McCown’s “Prime Time Sports. Mike landed with New York’s WFAN in 2004 as the evening producer and game-day radio producer for the N.Y. Giants. Damergis earned a master’s degree in journalism from Iona College and published a book about the USFL. Damergis spent five years in satellite radio, including an extensive run as the morning show producer for XM Radio’s “Baseball This Morning” with Buck Martinez, Mark Patrick and Orestes Destrade. . You may contact Mike directly @ [email protected].