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The Internet Will End Steroid Sanctimony

By Mike Silva ~ January 5th, 2011. Filed under: Hall of Fame, Mike Silva.

First, congratulations are in order to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven for their induction into the Hall of Fame. Regardless of what you think about their candidacy, only a small percentage of individuals play Major League Baseball, of that small group, an even smaller percentage are awarded the games highest honor. With that said, I do want to comment on how the BBWAA voted, and its impact on the future.

It’s clear from the results that steroids are a sticking point with the writers, and I continue to believe they have a right to their own method of choosing a candidate. Integrity and sportsmanship, although not demonstrated by the powers that be in Major League Baseball, are part of the selection process. If a writer decides to punish individuals who used steroids than whom I am to argue with their decision making? All I ask is for consistency in whatever logic they employ.

With that said, I think its time for the writers to assess their “guilty by association” position when it comes to individuals from the “steroid era. I also doubt there are many pharmacology majors in the BBWAA so for them to know the impact of PED’s on the results seems unlikely. Even worse, to assume anything about a player, and subsequently judging them, is un-American, and quite frankly, arrogance at its highest level. Very rarely do I take the BBWAA to task- I have much respect for their profession- but how Jeff Bagwell could garner less support than Lee Smith is baffling. It also is concerning since other quality candidates will be judged similarly to Bagwell.

I started watching baseball in the mid eighties, and some of my best memories are from the decade of the nineties. I do not feel cheated because the use of PED’s was rampant during that time. I don’t believe any championship, award, or record should be stricken from the books. The great thing about the game of baseball is how it never stays the same. Each decade has its own personality, just like the history our country.

My concern is that no one from the nineties will be elected to the Hall of Fame for quite some time. I fear I will never be able to go to the Hall and see a plaque with the names Mike Piazza, Barry Bonds, or even Roger Clemens on it. I won’t be able to remember some of the moments that pulled me into the game, and has kept me around for nearly 25 years.

When you add in the fact that PED’s were part of the game- namely amphetamines- for over five decades it makes this position a bona fide “witch hunt.” Should we look at Mickey Mantle’s numbers differently because it was around his time? As someone who took amphetamines to lose weight and gain energy, I can attest to them being every bit the advantage when it comes to performing. The reason I started taking them 10 years ago was because I wanted to have energy for a job that required me to walk “door to door” for eight hours a day. I could only imagine how it helped someone pitch or throw a baseball.

Despite my disappointment with the position of the BBWAA on steroids, there is good news: the power of the internet. I was just three years ago that Bert Blyleven had less than fifty percent support for his Hall candidacy. Thanks to the power of individuals and websites on the internet, the writers were educated about his credentials. Members of the BBWAA were held accountable like never before. I know many believe the vitriol over PED’s is overrated. I know there are many new members to the BBWAA that think just like me. Let’s hope the power of the internet puts a stop to the inconsistencies, and sanctimony that is beginning to mark the BBWAA Hall of Fame vote each year. Don’t dump on my era of baseball because it looks different than your era of baseball. I have a right to see the stars of my decade be honored, just like you did from years gone by. Its time we use the freedom the internet has given us to change behavior we deem unacceptable. Starting now let’s put pressure on the BBWAA (civilly of course) to stop the “witch hunt” against players who performed in the nineties and beyond.

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 The Internet Will End Steroid Sanctimony

  1. ChicagoPatrick

    Sorry. Roger Clemens cheated and then lied about it. How do I know, you might ask? Same way I know OJ did it, in the words of the immortal Jimmy Breslin: “Because I do not haver a cabbage for a brain.” Clemens should never, EVER go into the Hall of Fame. Nor should anyone who used. Baseball is not like NASCAR or basketball or hockey. Baseball is, or was, pastoral and traditional and a link between generations in a way that no other sport is or ever can be. The numbers in baseball used to be sacred. 714. 755. 1.12. 61. 56. .406. 2130. 300. 500. 3000. Now what do they mean? Where’s the scale anymore? Where’s the connection to the past? And let us not forget that these jokers did not just harmlessly abrogate some baseball rule — they broke federal laws.

    Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, and the rest should never get a whiff of the Hall. They broke a lot more than federal laws. They broke the game itself.

    I will give you two guys for whom the Hall was made. Greg Maddux. 355 wins, not a chance he was juicing. And Frank Thomas. Clubhouse cancer he might have been, but unlike his near-statistical twin, Jeff Bagwell, Thomas not only posted HoF numbers, he acted as only an innocent man would have: He openly shouted, WHILE he was active, that he was not using but that it was obvious others were. As far as I am concerned, he’s about the only hitter of that era who posted “HoF numbers” that has the slightest credibility on the issue. If the Internet truly does get rid of the “sanctimony,” and Clemens or Bonds dirties that Hall, then I’m through with baseball for life.

  2. Mike Silva

    Chicago Patrick

    Do you know for sure that Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux didn’t use steroids? amphetamines? Would you have taken Andy Pettitte as a user if it wasn’t public knowledge?

    The point is we are playing semantics with the era. Lets just accept the fact there were issues, learn from it, and grade everyone on the same scale.

    We are looking too deep into this, and considering amphetamines were used in the sixties, I doubt there wasn’t some sort of steroid use back then.

  3. ChicagoPatrick

    Of course I don’t know 100% for sure that Frank Thomas and Greg Maddux didn’t use steroids. And no, I probably would not have taken Andy Pettitte for a user. But this is not a courtroom, and these people are not on trial for their lives. They are being considered for a very great honor. And you say let’s grade everyone on the same scale? Which scale? The Babe Ruth-Roger Maris-Mickey Mantle scale? Or the funhouse-mirror scale introduced by McGwire and Bonds and Clemens?

    Steroids are something entirely different from amphetamines. Amphetamines might (and often do) actually degrade performance. HGH and steroids absolutely and massively improve performance. You know what’s coming next? Gene therapies. Are you going to be all for a guy whose arms are actually part elephant arms, whose eyes are part eagle, and whose legs are gazelle? Something like that is coming, and it’s time we get this hashed out.

    Are you going to say, “Let’s let bygones be bygones. Sure, the cloned Ted Williams with the horse legs and the gorilla arms may have had an advantage, but that advantage was available to everyone in the 2030s. We are looking too deep into this. This era of enhancement is over, and now we’re going back to the good old days and we can just sweep this under the table?”

    Me, I say we nip this in the bud NOW, and have major league baseball demonstrate that it is committed to preserving the traditional generational link that is, let’s face it, practically the only remaining competitive advantage it has over other sports. Baseball will never have the fastest players or the fanciest equipment or the fastest pace or the most X-Games-like excitement — and it shouldn’t. Baseball started to go wrong in the 1970s when it went to cookie-cutter multi-sport arenas with astroturf; it recognized that error when it began to go back to grass fields, single-use facilities, and retro uniforms in the 1990s.

    That effort to go back to baseball’s roots has taken a gigantic hit with the steroid/HGH thing. This is about the soul of the sport. Sure, PEDs are in all sports. But baseball is the outlier on the tradition scale. It needs to be connected to where it came from in a way other sports do not. My grandfather used to tell me about Joe Jackson knocking a home run over his head when he was a little kid in the right field bleachers at Comiskey Park in 1917, and of watching Babe Ruth later. This stuff connects generations. The sanctity of the numbers matters. Do you realize that really, STILL, no one has legitimately beaten Babe Ruth’s 60 home runs in 154 games? You must realize that’s the damned truth. If it was just that one number that baseball had prostituted, it might not be so bad. But it’s a whole lot of them. Career homers, season homers, pitcher wins, you name it. It’s like we’re all a bit hung over from a binge that seemed so nice at the time, and we’re just waking up to realize we crashed the car and threw up in the closet and who’s this person next to us?

    And finally, come on. I think we both know, to a level of certainty that is appropriate to this topic, that Frank Thomas, had he been juicing, would not have ben the lone voice in the wilderness complaining, like the little child he was, god bless him, that while he was condemned to a natural decline after age 33 or so, others were suddenly having a second youth. And we both know that Greg Maddux was not on roids. And we both know that he did not stick around through the 2008 season just because he was bored. On 9/27/08 he won his 355th game. That just happens to be one more than a certain loud-mouthed, lying, wife-throwing-under-bus, cheating, juicing fraud who pitched for Boston/Toronto/New York/Houston and who probably has a horse leg growing out of his chest right now.

    I’ve enjoyed getting this off my chest. Woof!

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