Recently I wrote a piece about players I was considering voting for on my Hall of Fame Ballot. I had mentioned that after I narrowed down my choices I would address those who used steroids and what to do with them.
Out of the people I was considering based on their performance, we know that Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro were PED users, but what about Jeff Bagwell?
I can tell you for certain that many voters feel that Bagwell juiced. In fact, there are those who feel that he was one of the fathers of juicing. One of my peers goes so far swear that "Jeff Bagwell ran his own juicing infomercial for other players. It was almost like he was profiting from it." Of course when you ask him to prove it, he can't...
By now, anyone who is really interested in the topic has most certainly read about the Jeff Bagwell Conspiracy Theory, written in 2004. While the entire theory may not be anything more than a contrived set of quotes and circumstances that make for an interesting read, the fact that someone can actually write such a thing where he can even suggest so many links to PED's says something about what was happening in baseball at the time. For the author, this was nothing more than playing six degrees of separation from Kevin Bacon, it was that easy.
My writing here has less to do with suggesting that Bagwell took steroids (I have not one shred of evidence that he did) and more to do with the players of that era who may or may not have. Absent the player or former player admitting it or someone proving that they did, does everyone who has not been found out to date just get the benefit of the doubt that they were clean?
Here's a list of 129 players that were either named in the Mitchell Report, admitted to using them, were implicated by someone, or received MLB suspensions for using steroids. Are we so naïve as to think that only the 129 players listed here or the few others listed elsewhere may have used PED's?
Just about anyone not named Jose Canseco who was implicated denied at first; it until it was proven. Perhaps, some of these guys that refuse to admit it were in fact clean. I see that Mike Piazza has been implicated, but no one's been able to pin anything on him to date. Does that mean he's innocent or that he will confess or be found out somewhere down the line ? Where do we place player like this when looking at them with regard to the Hall of Fame? Does he go into the Bagwell category? The "not sure but I wouldn't be surprised either way" category?
Bagwell isn't listed anywhere I know of. Some suggest he did, others say he didn't. But if you are really honest, you would say that you have no idea. How could you?
For players who we know for certain used PED's, we can each make our own decision on whether they are Hall of Fame worthy or not, either by class or on an individual basis. Does it really matter if they admitted it like A-Rod or Andy Pettitte only after we found out about it? Should those players get treated different than Barry Bonds who admits to taking "something" but that he didn't know what it was? Or how about the Roger Clemens'and Rafael Palmerio's of the game? Here we have guys who wouldn't admit to anything even if you had a picture of one of them bent over and the other one shooting the other in the ass!M/p>
They all took the stuff, some came clean when they were caught, some admitted it with out actually admitting it (do theses fellas think we don't take that as an admission?), and some appear to have been caught red handed but refuse to admit it anyway. It's like when my youngest grandchild covers her eyes and thinks I can't see her either....
One by one new names are coming out, Manny Ramirez is certainly a first ballot HOFer right? And then in 2009, Oops! David Ortiz finished in the top 5 MVP voting's for five years straight from 2003-2007 and then, Oops! Gary Sheffield's had a great career, right? Opps! It never stops!
Take a look at the All time HR list of guys who played in the steroid era. While there are some who apparently haven't taken steroids, that's where all the guys who are crossed out were too before they were found out!
So I ask you the reader the same two questions that were posed to me last night by two other voters...
1) "For the Jeff Bagwell's of the world, where we have no proof that they took steroids, are we still doing the innocent until proven guilty thing? Because that's getting old...."
2) "If so many players were doing it, pitchers and hitters alike, does it even matter?"
I'd like to hear what you think. - Paul Leume
Paul is a MLB columnist from Montreal, Canada. Paul, a one-time beat writer covering the Montreal Expos for the Montreal Gazette is a proud grandfather of 3 girls and now spends his time offering his thoughts and prospective on Major League Baseball on a variety of blogs and websites throughout Al Gore's internet.
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