He knew who the bad guys were before we did.
We were blind; he knew what was what going on. He saw them do it, even participated in the illegalities himself.
And even though he’s a bad guy himself, Jose Canseco has become the most trustworthy member of the Steroid Era. We count on him to tell us who did what and when they did it.
So I say we should also trust him to decide whom from this confusing era belongs in the Hall of Fame.
That’s right; forget the baseball writers. Let Jose Canseco have the one and only vote for the Hall of Fame.
Let’s go back a bit. Canseco told us about the syringe-aided escapades of Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez and others. At the time, we thought he was cuckoo, but we now know that he either had proof or has a better version of the “eye test” than we do, having been a steroid user himself.
And ever since Sammy Sosa said the other day that he would be retiring and waiting (forever?) for his call for the Hall, people have been debating whether Sosa, who many suspect but can’t prove to have done steroids, belongs in Cooperstown.
The simple answer is that no one knows. It seems obvious that Sosa cheated, what with his amnesia in front of Congress, not to mention his ballooning into a monster before becoming one of the best home run hitters of all time.
But we don’t know for sure that Sosa was on the juice. There’s no paper trail. No positive test. Sosa said the only thing he ever took was Flintstones vitamins.
So for the most honest, informed opinion, I say we should look no further than the blackballed cheat himself, Jose Canseco.
In fact, Canseco has already (without proof) fingered Sosa as a steroid user. “He gained thirty pounds, just like that, and got up to 260 so fast, you could see the bloating in his face and neck,” Canseco wrote in his book Juiced. “It seemed so obvious, it was a joke.”
But again, Sosa has denied using steroids. So who do we believe? The guy who’s been right 100 percent of the time so far, or the guy we suspect of cheating and blowing up the baseball record books?
Baseball writers, like the rest of us, are confused as to how they should vote for players from this era. In June 7’s Chicago Tribune, the paper’s Hall of Fame voters were asked if they would vote Sosa into the Hall right now.
There were six “Yes” votes (though one said there should be a separate “Hall of Shame”), one “No” vote, and one “Don’t Know” vote.
That scares me.
It scares me because a guy who was a borderline starter who put on a bunch of weight and went on to be mentioned in the same breath as Willie Mays and Hank Aaron, may have cheated and could get into Cooperstown because of it. Babe frickin’ Ruth hit 60 homers once. Sammy Sosa did it three times.
I have to admit, however, that I’m equally scared that some innocent players are going to be lumped in with the likes of Barry Bonds and Manny Ramirez and denied their rightful place in Cooperstown just because of the era they played in.
And since Sosa could possibly fall into either category, what do we do?
It’s quite simple. Get rid of the baseball writers and leave the ultimate decision of who makes it into the Hall of Fame up to Canseco.
Who else has told us who the steroid users were before they were caught? Who has nothing to lose, no reason to lie, unlike current players, managers and certain members of the media who are forced to bite their tongues? Who was a steroid user himself and can spot the signs and symptoms of a user?
Sosa isn’t the only player who hasn’t failed a test or been mentioned in court papers but is suspected of being a cheat. Guys like Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez, who all have Hall of Fame caliber numbers but have the same clouds of suspicion as Sosa hanging over their heads.
And there are likely some HOF voters who (wrongly) won’t vote anyone who played the last 20 years into the Hall.
That’s why we should let Canseco, the foremost authority on the Steroid Era, decide who belongs in Cooperstown. More importantly, he’ll be able to determine who doesn’t belong.