In the past hour, sports news junkies got their fix. And this was a major hit. Alex Rodriguez, in the midst of recent allegations of using performance-enhancing drugs, admitted to using banned substances from 2001-2003 while playing for the Texas Rangers.
To many in the baseball world, the sport has taken another PR blow by Rodriguez, who many consider the greatest player of our era.
The latest story comes after A-Rod's name being leaked from the Mitchell Report this past Saturday (Feb. 7). In the report, 106 names were given of players who tested positive for steroids. However, these names were to be kept confidential, only to be used for the purpose of the Mitchell Report.
If you're A-Rod, you have to be thinking "Why me?" Out of all the players, all the names that are listed in the report, why Alex Rodriguez? And why now, with just a few weeks before spring training?
Now the question arises again; What will the Hall have to say about A-Rod? This question is not as easy as you might think.
I think the question will be a little more difficult by the time A-Rod retires. When the steroids issue first reared its ugly head, the big names were Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds.
McGwire was retired by then while Sosa and Bonds were in the twilights of their careers. McGwire, the first name linked to steroids that was eligible for the hall, wasn't even close to getting in and his number of votes has dropped in the past two years.
Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the two best players at their positions in the steroid era, won't be eligible for another three years. How the voters treat either one of these guys should be a barometer for A-Rod.
Rodriguez will be 34 this summer and one can only assume that he has at least six more years of baseball in him. With this assumption, it will be 2020 before Rodriguez will be eligible for the Hall, at the earliest. How will A-Rod and the steroids era be perceived in the future?
My suggestion, while not the most popular, seems to be the most logical. I would suggest that the baseball writers do what they have done throughout the history of baseball and vote the best players of the era in.
With all the things we don't know about steroids and how entrenched they were in baseball, we do know that we may never get to the bottom of it. We won't know every player who used it, or which manager might have encouraged it, or which owner turned his eye as players in his locker room used it.
The fact is, whether you're a naive fan or not, the word "steroids" is just as synonymous to the game of baseball as is "home run." And it has been like that since the '80s. So we won't know the depths of steroid abuse in the clubhouse. And it would be unfair to deny players who, in one way or another, have had their named linked to steroids.
Let's take Bonds and Clemens, for example. We can assume that both of these guys were first-ballot HOFers even if they had never been involved with steroids. Bonds is the all-time home run king, the only player with 500 home runs and 500 stolen bases and 400 home runs and 400 stolen bases. He was the best left-fielder of his time, winning several gold gloves at that position.
We know that Bonds tested positive for steroids and he is set to go to trial for perjury in the first week of March. What we don't know is how many of those pitchers that Barry faced over the years were also using steroids. We do know that number 756 came off a pitcher who was suspended the year before for using steroids.
Clemens, the only seven-time Cy Young winner, has more than 300 wins and is second only to Nolan Ryan in career strikeouts. We know he struck out a ton of guys who used steroids, but we don't know everyone.
The complaint about steroids is that it gives players an unfair advantage. But if we don't know all the players that used it, can it really be an unfair advantage? Should we penalize those players (Bonds, Clemens, Rodriguez, etc.) who succeeded during this era? For players like Fernando Vina, who admitted to using to steroids and has no chance of making it to the Hall of Fame, should there not be any punishment for them?
If you believe that players like A-Rod, Clemens, Bonds, Palmeiro, and even McGwire don't deserve to be in the Hall, then I have to wonder if you are more concerned about the numbers than the actual game of baseball.
To say that Ruth, Cobb, Wagner, Walter Johnson, and DiMaggio would not have taken a substance to give them an advantage is illogical. These guys were great players and over time they have become more legend than human. I don't believe that every one of them would have used performance-enhancing drugs, just like I don't believe every player now is using them. But I'm sure a lot of them would have.
I don't condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs. However, I understand that 1) there were more players using them than we could imagine and 2) Selig and the owners allowed this to go on for years before they realized that it damaged their perception to the public eye.
Selig, I believe, is more concerned about his legacy than any of the players whose names have been leaked or whose name will be leaked in the next couple of years. He certainly hates that it was under his watch that baseball has taken its blackest eye since segregation.
I like to look at this era as if in a classroom during a test. If a majority of the students have a copy of the test, the teacher and the principal both know this, yet they do nothing about it until parents find out.
Who, then, is really at fault?