Blog Entry

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

Posted on: December 30, 2010 6:52 pm
Edited on: December 30, 2010 7:45 pm
Bret Boone
In spring of 2002, I wrote a newspaper column about Mariners second baseman Bret Boone, and how despite his prodigious 2001 season those of us in the Seattle press corps didn’t ask him about steroids. The point was that his having an improved physique and a power surge didn’t give us the right to walk up the guy and say, “so, you taking steroids?”

In his first book, Juiced, Jose Canseco mocked me for that column. He missed the point of the thing, which was that journalistic standards don’t give us the right to accuse someone of cheating absent other evidence, but he was right on one point: I was still somewhat naïve on the extent of the use of steroids in the majors. Frankly, all of us were in 2002.

Canseco followed with this: "The amazing thing was how obvious it was [that Boone was juicing]: All they had to do was open their eyes and take a look at this little guy, with his small frame and his huge arms – arms that were bigger than mine!"

Was Boone using illegal performance enhancers? I still don’t know for sure. Yes, if “just look at the guy!” is the yardstick you want to use, he’s certainly suspect.

But is “just look at the guy!” a legitimate argument to use when voting for the Hall of Fame? With Hall votes due tomorrow, we’re facing our biggest test so far with Jeff Bagwell.

Bagwell, statistically, is absolutely Hall of Fame material. But he’s unlikely to get in this year, primarily because people have misgivings about whether he used PEDs. Those misgivings, however, aren’t based on anything but conjecture. Bagwell never tested positive for anything, his name isn’t in the Mitchell report, nobody ever reported seeing him use anything or accused him of it. Here is a thorough compendium of everyone ever connected to steroids in baseball, and Bagwell’s name isn’t on it. It’s strictly a “just look at the guy!” argument.

Jeff Pearlman, author and former Sports Illustrated writer, thinks it’s OK to keep someone out of the Hall without evidence. He argues that since everyone around him was doing steroids, Bagwell probably was, too. And Pearlman says even if Bagwell was clean, he gets a black mark for not speaking out against it.
 “Did Jeff Bagwell use PED?
I don’t know.
Do I have the right to hold his era against him?
Damn right I do.”
Jeff Bagwell But in that case, do we throw out the entire era? If we assume everyone who put up big numbers is dirty, and we disqualify clean players for not speaking out (can you think of a lot of players who did?), who makes the cut? I guess nobody. We're going to have a boring couple of decades in Cooperstown.

It’s a slippery slope when you start voting with gut feelings. Ken Griffey Jr. will get into the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, and is always held up as an example of someone who played clean, but we don’t know what he did any more than we know what Bagwell did. On the official record, there is no difference between them – so how come Bagwell gets penalized?

I much prefer the philosophy of’s Joe Posnanski, who says in this outstanding piece that keeping Bagwell out is a travesty.
The Hall of Fame character clause gives voters carte blanche to judge the eyes and hearts and souls of players. ... I’d rather a hundred steroid users were mistakenly voted into the Hall of Fame over keeping one non-user out. I don’t know if Jeff Bagwell used or didn’t use steroids. But there was no testing. There is no convincing evidence that he used (or, as far as I know, even unconvincing evidence). So what separates him from EVERY OTHER PLAYER on the ballot? Were his numbers too good? That’s why you suspect him?
I understand that in the coming years the Hall of Fame and its voters are going to have to work out the steroid era and where to place tainted players in baseball's historical record. I get that we're going to have these conversations about Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. But why are we having it about Jeff Bagwell? In our efforts to hold Hall of Famers to a high standard, why are we lowering voting standards to the point where "just look at the guy!" is a legitimate argument?

-- David Andriesen

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Since: Jul 10, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2011 4:03 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

It's a place to show the most amazing accomplishments in baseball. If Ruth can be in there, then Pete Rose should certainly be in there.-jim

By your own word "amazing accomplishments" many of the players in the Hall should never have been inducted.  Shoeless Joe Jackson whose .356 lifetime BA (3rd highest) could be considered an amazing accomplishment.  He is not in the Hall and yet he should be.  Time has aquitted him of any wrong doing in the Black Sox Scandal.  The Commissioners office hasn't.  Time has not aquitted Pete Rose, a player who should have been in the Hall.  His admission to betting on baseball and betting on games he was managing after years of denial cost him his legacy.  The integrity of any sport is the foundation that the game is decided on the field, Rose opened a door that could have resulted in games being fixed and the game that you and I love would be damaged if not destroyed.  Those who cannot demonstrate fair play should never even have a place on a ballet.  Ty Cobb was considered a dirty player by many of his peers and it is fair to say that Cobb would never have won any sportmanship awards, but I don't believe he ever played in a game he didn't give it his all and try and win. 
I guess my idea of Hall of Fame players is quite a bit stricter than many,  I expect that Robbie Alomar will be elected this year and I am OK with that.  Not because he meets what I believe the standard was intended to be, but because so many of the 2nd basemen already inducted are that poor.

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 2, 2011 2:13 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

Don't get me wrong, Mantle is still my favorite all time player. But, who is to say he didn't get HGH in High School? I've known guys who did. I'm not saying Mantle did, or didn't take steriods. The only point I was making was that steriods have been around for a lot longer than most people think. You can't prove whether Mantle did, or didn't take steriods.

It just happens to be that steriods were brought to light during the Bond, McGuire, Sosa era. We will never have the oportunity to test many players who come up for vote to the Hall of Fame. Some guys are already dead. Plus, they will never go to the expense to do so. The Hall of Fame is not a morality club. It's a place to show the most amazing accomplishments in baseball. If Ruth can be in there, then Pete Rose should certainly be in there. Hey, there are guys in baseball that have horrible morals. I may not like them personally, but I have to apreciate their talents. You can only go by acomplishments. These guys should never be looked upon as role models. They will do ANYTHING to win. I've never seen any of them admit that a call was wrong, if it went in their favor. 

Let's put an * next to their stats. There was no testing when they played. We can't pick and chose because we don't know. Stop the expense of investigating the past. We should be enjoying the game now. Let's concentrate on putting fans in the seats, before baseball goes bankrupt altogether. All this garbage does is drive people away from baseball. I love the game. Take the most logical solution, and vote the players into the Hall of Fame by eras. It's pathetic when you can't see a playoff game on TV because some other sport over rides it's showing. This is suppose to be our NATIONAL SPORT. If these guys keep draging it through the mud, we won't have it around professionally any longer.     

Since: Jul 10, 2009
Posted on: January 2, 2011 7:35 am

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

 Did you see the muscle on Mantle?-jim

Take a look at Mantle's rookie card, he was 19 in 1951.  Those are not laboratory muscles they are Oklahoma farmboy muscles.  Roger Maris won back to back MVPs, and averaged 30 HRs/162 games.  He only totaled 275 career HRs due to injury and a short career.
What Reggie Jackson did, much like Alex Rodriguez, when he slapped at Kevin Youkilis's(?) glove was a reflex.    
The Hall of Fame should have standards, and unfortunately The BBWAA have created pretty low standards with their votes over the years.  Open the door to a law breaking criminal element who used illegal drugs to cheat the game, the fans, and their fellow players is to diminish the Hall to an irrelevant jesture. 
In the first two years the HoF admitted names like Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson Cobb, Honus Wagner, Ruth, Cy Young, and Tris Speaker.  In the past decade the baseball writers have soiled the intent by adding the mediocrity of Bill Mazeroski, Gary Carter, Paul Molitor, Wade Boggs, Goose Gossage, and Tony Gwynn.  

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 1, 2011 9:16 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

For those of you who think HGH is something that has only recently been used, listen to this. When I was in High School, (mid 60's), a friend of mine was only about 5' tall. The doctor started giving him HGH. A couple of years after High Scool he was in the service playing football. He was then 6' 4". So don't tell me it wasn't around during the time of Mantle. By the way, he was my idol growing up. The stuff was probably around at Ruth's time. So, how do we know these guys didn't "cheat". Did you see the muscle on Mantle? How do we know that the one year flash in the pan Maris did use steriods? He was a great fielder, but only had one star season. Just because they are baseball idols, and dead and buried, are they above the law? Just because a player is still alive, why should he be judged by different standards? I say drop it. Let's stop waisting money, and time. How can Congress let Clinton off the hook for lying to them, and yet want to hang athletes for doing the same thing. Most of these elected officials lied through their teeth to get elected. Why do we gag at a nat, and swallow a camel.
With baseball you can't determine all the cheaters, which are many more than what we think. Testing can only solve it. You can't test dead ball players, so you can't use it for a standard to get into the Hall of Fame. So, you just use it on players in the game now. Let's begin clean from this point on. Compare athletes within the same era for Hall of Fame qualification. Perhaps the voting should be broken down per era?
Talk about cheaters, there is cheating going on all the time in baseball. Pitchers using spit balls, vaseline balls, powder puff balls, cutting the ball. Reggie Jackson sticking his hip out to divert the ball in the World Series, after he was already called out. etc. etc. How much of it went on before the cheating was caught? How long before a rule was made against it. Stats are flawed because of this. Forget the past. Move on.
Hey I'm a Yankee fan. I always will be. But facts are facts.

Since: Oct 26, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2011 6:37 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

There's no proof that Bagwell did anything but jacka$$ media aren't going to vote for him because they are suspicious.  Odd.  In the college football season, scam newton was proclaimed innocent by CBS because there was no proof despite all the suspicion.  Typical CBS double standard.  At least I don't have to be suspicious about CBS sports writers being dumba$$es.  There's plenty of proof every time they write a column.

Since: Jul 10, 2009
Posted on: January 1, 2011 3:42 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

The following is from my blog;

The recent admission of Mark McGwire that he did, as suspected, use performance enhancing drugs while playing for the St. Louis and the Oakland A’s was hardly startling.  The BBWAA, who vote on Hall of Fame membership have over the past four years sent a message, by a 3 to 1 margin, that steroid cheaters need not apply.

McGwire’s tearful admission to Bob Costas, that he regrets his action, raises the question, will enough writers be swayed by McGwire’s contrition and give him a sympathy vote in future Hall elections?  I personally hope that does not happen.  Did I cheer Mark McGwire’s heroics, I did.  I watched as he picked up his son after he hit the ‘62<sup>nd</sup> HR and as he received the congratulations of the Maris family.  I was moved by the whole event, I was also woefully naïve.  I didn’t recognize the PED influence that had turned a game I loved into an arcade game.

Some of the writers who have voted for Mark McGwire’s election into the HOF have given the use of any product that enhances performance on the field as legitimizing steroids and human growth hormone (HGH) usage.   Among those examples are Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and Billy Martin and I’m sure thousands of other ball players over the past one hundred years who took aspirin to lessen the effects of a hangover from the previous nights celebration.

They also cite the use of ubiquitous uppers (Amphetamines). As reported by a player “greenies gave me the ability to function, 13 games in 4 cities with one day off is brutal.  Without them standing in the box was a death wish, Performance enhancing… at the end of a long road trip walking was a big deal”.  I start my day with two healthy belts of caffeine … PED?  There is such a thing as taking coffee and two aspirin to an absurd level to justify cheating.   Fortunately those writers are in the minority, and in this writer’s opinion hopes that it stays that way

The ‘steroids era’ has taken from fans that relationship of Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs and Roger Maris’ 61.  It took  the 755 that Hank Aaron hit to eclipse the 715 of Ruth.  It has made us look at every accomplishment with a jaundice eye.  Was Nolan Ryan or Randy Johnson playing ‘fair’, how did Cal Ripken Jr. manage to get out there for 2,131 consecutive games?  We would never have questioned Lou Gehrig’s streak or the home runs of Mickey Mantle or Willie Mays.

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2011 3:26 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

Don't be a jerk . The proof is overwhelming. These players were using and hiding it was easy.
Leave Mantle and company alone,they are not involved in this. Science has come along way
on and off the field. Its calld progress. The sooner MLB gets on board, the better the integerty.
If you don't, you'll slip further behin.

Since: Sep 30, 2008
Posted on: January 1, 2011 3:08 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

This is real simple. If a player is suspected of using steroids during the steroid era and has a chance to be ellected into the Hall of Fame, then that player should have an extensive background check conducted surrounding his entire career also including, a Lie Detector Test, and interviews with all subordinates that might have enhanced his physical status as a player... If the player says no problem, then the investigation begins... If the player says noway, then the player is disqualified from making the Hall of Fame... I think you need to conduct the Hall of Fame in this manner for the next 20 years, up untill Baseball can test these players for HGH so that we can tell our children that the players in the Hall of Fame are Hall of Famers. Not Cheaters that made alot of money and fooled alot of fans with their ability to play... And for all poeple that think we are innocent until proven guilty, the Hall of Fame is not a court of law, it is a privilege to be elected, not a law of this land.....

Since: Jan 12, 2007
Posted on: January 1, 2011 2:29 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

I say, we should not throw out the stats, or players because of steriods. We have no idea how far back the players were using steriods. You can't throw out a whole era of baseball because of steriods. Let's compare players within the era they played.
To be honest, I thought the Bonds, McGuire, Sosa years were some of the most exciting years in baseball. If you want to put an * next to the stats of those players, fine. I have never seen anything more exciting that when Barry Bonds came to the plate. It was amazing! I've never seen anyone better.

How can you compare Ruth's era with Mantle's, or today? The ball has changed. The stadiums have changed. So many things have changed. Why don't you throw out Colorado's pitching stats for tampering with the ball? How can one team use a humidor, or whatever you call it, to make sure the ball is not too lively. Until all stadiums, rules (DH or no DH), and equipment are the same, I say, let's forget about who WAS using or not using steriods, and go forward with testing.

Who's to say Ruth, or Mantle, weren't using steriods? Are you going to dig them up to find out? Let's drop it. Let's get the Government out of Baseball.

By the way, let's get instant replay, so guys don't get ROBBED of perfect games, home runs, and game winning hits. The officials have effected baseball negatively more than steriods.   

Since: Oct 16, 2006
Posted on: December 31, 2010 7:47 pm

Drawing the line on steroids and the HOF

I find it comical how many on here judge those who have, or may have, used steroids as the scum of the earth who deserve various degrees of punishment. Most of you have no clue what steroids actually do, and many more have no idea about the many types of PEDs that are out there, which ones are banned or when they became, "illegal".

What about things like vitamins? What about protein shakes? What about conditioning coaches and weight training?
Should all of these be banned because they "enhance performance"? He||, while we're at it shouldn't we ban Tommy John surgery? Just think of all of the players careers that have not only been extended, but the pitchers who have pitched far better after the procedure!
What about cortizone shots that allow players to play through injuries?

Read what Bagwell said about his career:
Do you people actually believe that every player that lifted weights to bulk up used steroids? Do you think that everyone who hires a conditioning coach and gets in peak physical condition is a cheater? The use of PEDs is something that some did before they were banned and then some switched to other enhancers that were not yet on a banned list. I'm sure for the vast majority of "users" they didn't say, "How can I cheat and get better?" They worked their butts off to be the best they possibly could and PEDs were added as part of the overall training routine just like vitamins and strict diets.

Do you even know why "STEROIDS" are such a big deal? My guess is that they became to sports writers what Watergate was to real journalists, A quick way to get a national bi-line and a shot at one of the great paying jobs that the booming 24 hour TV sports reporting industry has to offer!
If you really want insight into steroids try reading this:  , and stop getting your education from hack writers, many with an ax to grind against certain big name players who didn't kiss the writers butt! 

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or