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Could the “Steroid Grudge” End in 2013?

By Mike Silva ~ January 2nd, 2011. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

Later today, I will have my annual Hall of Fame show as I reveal the NYBD HOF vote and discuss all the candidates.

The last couple of years have sparked much debate as many members of the nineties have appeared on the ballot. Edgar Martinez, Jeff Bagwell, Rafael Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire have been penalized for playing in an era marked by the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. Eventually, someone from that era has to get in, and I suspect 2013 might be that year.

In 2013 Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio, and Roger Clemens will be eligible for the Hall of Fame. By pure numbers each should be a lock for induction, but will any get in? I believe both Craig Biggio and Mike Piazza have the best chance because of their media friendly persona.

Steve Phillips recently called Piazza “the lowest maintenance superstar” he’s ever seen. His homerun post 9-11 is also one of the most memorable moments in baseball history. He also earned a lot of respect for how he handled rumors about his sexuality. There have been plenty of whispers about steroid use with Piazza, most notably accusations by Reggie Jefferson in Jeff Pearlman’s book “The Rocket That Fell to Earth.” Joel Sherman and Murray Chass have pointed out that Piazza suffered from severe back acne at the height of his career. Of course, this is one of the signs associated with steroid use. Most notably, Pearlman reports that Piazza admitted off the record that he “uses steroids,” but said it was in “limited doses,” and “not all that often.”

Piazza has made a few public appearances since his retirement. He answers most questions, except the ones pertaining to performance enhancing drugs, and generally is affable in his media interaction. He even made an appearance in the SNY booth towards the end of the 2008 season with Gary Cohen, Ron Darling, and Keith Hernandez. Never has he been pushed to discuss the topic, or given negative press. He also is scheduled to publish his own personal memoirs in the near future.

Biggio is a sports writers dream: articulate, scrappy, always has the uniform dirty, and accessible. He played for the Astros, so that “guilty by association” may hold, but his career doesn’t profile as a juicer, as Biggio was known more for speed and defense. With that said, he did develop power later in his career, often reason to suspect foul play. What he’s got going for him, in addition to the Q Rating, is durability as Biggio averaged 143 games a season during his career.

The baseball writers are known to hold grudges and punish players because of how they were treated during their career. Ted Williams was denied an MVP award due to this. We saw Jerry Manuel and Jeff Francoeur get a complete pass for their performance in 2010 because they were accessible. Even Roberto Alomar was denied first ballot entrance in the Hall of Fame because of his spitting incident from the nineties. It’s going to take someone “likable” to break through the BBWAA “steroid grudge.” I thought Jeff Bagwell had a shot, but he clearly is guilty through association by the mere fact he was physically built during his playing days. Unfair, but it’s how the BBWAA has decided to conduct its business.

Bonds, Sosa, and Clemens each have specific connection to PED use. Bonds also has the added baggage of his obnoxious public persona. There might not be an angrier individual in the history of baseball. Clemens and Sosa made fools of themselves on Capitol Hill. On the other hand, Mike Piazza has handled himself with class throughout his career. That is why I believe the writers might show forgiveness and elect him his first year of eligibility. Regardless, 2013 will bring up much debate about how to evaluate modern players. It probably will take one to break through, and perhaps the rest will follow. Mike Piazza or Craig Biggio could be that pioneer.

Mike Silva is a freelance writer and radio host since March of 2007. This website is his own personal "digest" of New York Baseball He's also hosts NYBD Radio on Blog Talk Radio and 1240 AM WGBB. Check out his sports media commentary at www.sportsmediawatchdog.com. Check out his official website, www.mikesilvamedia.com
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3 Responses to Could the “Steroid Grudge” End in 2013?

  1. Steve S.

    I thought the most damning piece of evidence against Piazza was the (completely) torn abdominal muscle he suffered in 2003. Baseball player will strain and tear muscles all the time, but when muscles tear off the bone the way his did, that’s typical among steroid users whose muscles get too big for their frames. Find me another Baseball player that’s ever had that injury pre-steroid era. Highly unusual, and if you know anything about body building and steroid use very suspicious.

  2. Mike Silva


    Great point, and I remember watching that injury. It was odd because it happened just in the course (I believe if my memory serves me correctly) of him getting out of the way of a ball.

    Definitely think there is a lot of smoke with Piazza, but I just don’t want to penalize players of that era for using.

  3. Mike Felber

    I DO want to penalize players who there is good evidence for using. It was illegal since the start of the ’90′s, just not tested for & penalized. That Management was lax or worse in checking for cheaters or liars does not exempt players from personal responsibility. If there was ever a correct time to invoke the HOF morality clause, it is in something like this that directly effected the records, standings, & opportunities in the game. You cheat, you steal success from others & for your team, possibly a roster spot, from others fighting to realize their dream in a zero sum game. Deeply wrong when substances can transform your body & game sometimes.

    I recall Mike Schmidt having a similar injury when I was a kid, but I would need to check that memory. And occasionally people can have overlapping conditions without drugging, I doubt he used PEDs.

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