Okay, let's jump right into this topic. It is always a pretty big topic of discussion early in the season right around Hall of Fame elections. I want to talk first about what I think of steroids in the HOF. I am all for the game's integrity and keeping baseball clean and as natural with talent as possible. BUT when you think of what other guys have done to cheat the game: Pete Rose cheating, Black Sox scandal, Astros Sign Stealing and Steriods. There has been a lot of different fraud that has impacted the game.
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Some of the storylines we will discuss in these two pieces will be as follows: Pete Rose is still on the ineligible list and will probably never see himself in the Hall of Fame. The Blacksox were also punished similarly to Pete Rose for a crime worse than Petes. The Astros/Red Sox GOT let off with a slap on the wrist for worse things than Pete Rose and on par with the Black Sox scandal. We have seen plenty of suspensions for steroids. Barry Bonds gets his HR title stripped, and these guys who had great careers and HOF worthy careers probably not get in for their choices.
But I also want to play devil's advocate first. Look at the 1990s and early 2000s, ALOT of players used steroids and Human Growth Hormones. There are the guys like Manny Ramirez, Alex Rodriguez, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Rodger Clemens, and Barry Bonds as the most known names. But what about guys like Jose Canseco, Jason Giambi, Eric Gagne, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Paul Lo Duca, Bret Boone, Chuck Knobloch, Ken Caminiti, Matt Williams, Miguel Tejado, Neifi Perez, Steve Finley, John Rocker, Bobby Estalella, Jeremy Giambi, Benito Santiago, Wally Joyner, Rafael Palmeiro, Jim Leyritz, Paxton Crawford, Jason Grimsley, Melky Cabrera, Bartolo Colon. I've listed so many names to prove there were many players and more beyond the list I just gave you using steroids. This point is to prove the playing field was more balanced than we think from what we have been told.
Keep this in mind because if so many were doing it and had elevated performance beyond what we know, how accurate are the stats from the steroid era. This tells me it was normalized among players at that time what was happening. Hitters knew they were going against others who were better, and they had to elevate their game to match it. The hitters that did, Same for the pitchers they took the mound and had to execute their pitches better. Not only did these guys have excellent skills, they just did it all the better than their peers who even tried to do the same. Which for this argument says these guys should be equally considered. A guy like Edgar Martinez, who carved out of the best DH careers of all time during this era, barely got in on his last year of eligibility. Goes to show those who did it without juicing were genuinely great; the guys that did both well were also great because they made their name against players who were doing the same. Overall, from this perspective, I think they should be considered as usual.
Then we can look at it from the perspective of cheating is cheating. None of these guys had a successful career post steroids, and that's not surprising. You can ask the question if ARod still would have been on the path the greatness he was before PED's we don't know. I think yes because, after the PED suspensions, he still had excellent statistical seasons. But we will never know, and we have not to consider that. Another example we have of this perspective but as we have seen with the Astros. Manfred doesn't care if you cheat and steal wins and a World Series title, which should say that PED and Steroid use should be thrown out of the window because of the light punishment the Astros and Red Sox received. Pete Rose got put into turmoil for the sentence he got. Bonds got the great accomplishment of the HR king taken from him. The overall message he is cheating is not just cheating in baseball, with punishments being inconsistent, as we see now.
There should be a big difference in arguments against those used during 1991-2004. Those who got caught using after 2005 policies went into effect. In other sports, PED's aren't seen in the same light as baseball has seen them. Also, Bud Selig, former MLB commissioner, can be in the HOF despite the poor handling. Then why can't the players?
Lastly, I will do another piece on players who dominated this era, strong HOF cases. Still, the HOF voters are urged to consider the following "record, playing ability, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played." It says to view the player's personality, character, and the intangibles they had on the field and what they did off the field like a man.
Now it's time to break down some players who use PEDS, who should probably be considered based on their stats alone. We will also talk about some players and their conduct regarding how that affects their case.
Let's talk about guys who should not be considered for the HOF.
Jose Conseco: This guy wrote a book on PED usage. He did some good things for baseball when it came to PED usage in baseball. But he did get the first EVER 40HR and 40SB season in MLB history. He played between 1985-2001. He had 462HR, career WAR of 42.5. This doesn't scream HOF, in my opinion, because it just doesn't feel like he should be in the HOF regardless of PED use. Overall, his career ended with 1877H, a 266BA, 200 SB, 1407RBI. He also earned 1 MVP award, 6x All-Star, 4x Silver Slugger, 2x World Series Champ, and what I think is interesting is a ROY award. Which makes me think was he using PED then, or was it just natural skills at that point. We can only imagine. Overall an outstanding career, but his career slash line of .266/.353/.515 is not Hall of fame worthy to me as each of those stats is considered below average.
Jason Giambi: In 2004, Giambi did admit to using HGH in the early 2000s, and he did apologize later for his actions. He was a 50.5 WAR, 2010H, 440HR, 277BA, 1366BB, 1441RBI. Overall while he played from 1995-2014 and playing into his 40s. He had terrific seasons between 1998-2008. Come 2009, at age 38, he just existed. Even if he didn't have ties to the steroid era, his resume doesn't get him close to the HOF, despite a career .399OBP, which is pretty good. His ties to how much Steroids helped his game is kind of sad. Fun fact, Giambi and Conseco were teammates in 1997 in Oakland, and Giambi went from a 20HR to 27-33-43 the next three seasons.
Eric Gagne- He was a little harder to put on this side of the list. But after his career, he admitted to HGH use during four years of his 10-year career. Eighty-four straight saves between 2003-2004 and his 2003 CY Young award are incredible feats. His career 3.47ERA, 718SO, 643IP only 187SV, and only a career 11.7WAR ultimately make him fall short of the HOF, which has a high standard for relievers. As I said, this one was harsh, but his career doesn't place him among the all-time greats with or without steroids. He also was a 3x All-Star, 2007 World Series Ring, and 2x Rolaids Relief. Like I said, overall sound, but not great.
Manny Ramirez- "Manny being Manny" says a lot about him as a person. I remember hearing this as a kid on ESPN when he was talked about. Also, his two failed PED tests, one in 2009 and the next in 2011 when he retired. Now, he is trying to make a comeback overseas. Regardless, he had a video game cover, one of the better MVP baseball games, one of my personal favorites. He is one of only 4 MLB players over 9000PA that has a line of .300/.400/.500. He has 555HR plus a postseason record of 29HR. However, he was a terrible defender, which brought him to only a 69.3WAR for his career. He was a 12x All-Star, 2x World Series Champ, 9x Silver Slugger, WS MVP, and won 1 Batting Title. The numbers are there for me. In all honesty, what kills it is three positive tests and not wanting to serve his 100 games in 2011, and just retiring kind of is a pathetic thing to do, which puts him just short of HOF. He has gotten up to 28.2% on the ballot, which is encouraging.