Players Drug Us Into the Steroids Mess, But Who Should be Permanently Stained?

David PuccioContributor IAugust 26, 2009

1 Jul 2001:  Mark McGwire #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals warms up to bat during the game against the San Francisco Giants at Pac Bell Park in San Francisco, California.  The Giants defeated the Cardinals 5-4.Mandatory Credit: Jed Jacobsohn  /Allsport

Steroids or Supplements?  It doesn't seem like an important question because all of the admitted users are guilty right?  Well, it does matter because one was legal and one was not. 

If one player ordered his steroids from Tijuana, injects them into his butt while another player goes to GNC and picks some supplements off of the shelf than there is a huge difference.  How can we decide that these two players are equally guilty when one was doing something illegal and the other was using something that the guy in the cubicle across from you is probably also using? 

Since we choose to call both players guilty than why are we not after the guy that drinks six Red Bulls prior to the game, or the guys that were popping amphetamines like vitamins.  Anybody who has read Ball Four in the last 30 years knows that amphetamines have been prevalent in the game for a long time.

It's hard to know who is guilty of what and that showed with David Ortiz's poor excuse of a press conference.  If he was using steroids or HGH than yes, he should be chastised and his career should be considered tainted.  If he was using supplements, as he stated, than he should be given a break. 

If what he said is true, that he, or his trainer, was able to walk into a store in the United States, purchase a supplement that is legal in the United States, and use it in a league that did not ban any drugs than why is he considered one of the players that uses performance enhancing drugs. 

If he did use a performance enhancing drug and it was shipped to another name at another address because it is illegal in the United States and his buddy Manny injected it into him or he rubbed it on his sore elbow than he does deserve the criticism that he got.  How do we know who did what?  We don't, we can only suspect. 

We know Jose Canseco and Miguel Tejada used steroids, we know that Rafael Palmiero tested positive for steroids, even though he claims that he thought he was taking a B12 shot, we know that Andy Pettitte used HGH and Jason Giambi used steroids.  We know that Alex Rodriguez used steroids for three years and Manny Ramirez was apparently trying to get pregnant. 

We don't know for certain what Barry Bonds, Gary Sheffield, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Mark McGwire took, if anything.  We also know that there are 103 players on a list that used something that could range from steroids to refusing to take the test so they would automatically default to a positive test to force true testing.

All of the players named above are all potential Hall of Fame players or significant players in the game so it leads to another question.  Do they belong in the Hall of Fame or should their records and statistics be removed from the history books? 

It unfortunate that the numbers are skewed now, 60 was a number that was known and admired for 34 years and 61 replaced it for 37 years. Seventy replaced that number and was replaced by 73 three years later. Seventy-three will probably stay there for a long time because now, coincidentally or not, no player is even approaching the number. 

It probably saddens every baseball fan to see that since 1998 the number 61 has dropped to the seventh best home run total.  That doesn't however mean the the six above it should be removed.  Even if McGwire and Sosa were using we have to assume that many of the pitchers that they faced were using it as well. 

Maybe they were just the best home-run hitters that we have ever seen and if that is true it is a shame that we will never appreciate it.  What these players were doing was wrong but we can't necessarily blame them if they were trying to compete with other players doing the same thing. 

Clemens and Bonds belong in the Hall of Fame period.  Bonds is arguably the best hitter of this generation and Clemens is the best pitcher of this generation.  They both could end up in jail instead of the Hall of Fame but that shouldn't be the case. 

We have allowed others with questionable pasts enter the Hall, two that come to mind immediately are Gaylord Perry and his admitted use of an illegal pitch and Orlando Cepeda use of drugs.  Both belong in the Hall of Fame but their offenses did not carry the same weight in the minds of the writers that that the steroid era is going to. 

Clemens and Bonds have not been proven guilty yet in the minds of every fan and most writers they have been.

This is what we know, a Mets trainer/clubhouse and a Giants trainer/clubhouse person testified in the Mitchell report, Jose Canseco wrote a book that has been to this point proven mostly correct, and there is a list of 103 names that tested positive when MLB did anonymous testing in 2003. 

What does that tell us?  It tells us that we haven't scratched the surface of what was going on.  There are 28 other clubhouses that nobody was willing to testify about in the Mitchell report and the players in 2003 knew that anonymous testing was coming so surely many of them got clean prior to the test. 

It isn't fair that many players got a free pass because nobody 'snitched' or their wasn't enough evidence.  It wasn't fair to the players that were caught and it wasn't fair to the fans.

We need to get past this and consider the steroid era a past era.  Every sport has periods of change and we move along to the next one.  I cannot be convinced that this scandal is worse than the sport not allowing black players and black Latino players to play.  Some of the greatest players in history never played an inning of Major League Baseball yet we let all of our records prior to 1946 stand. 

The steroid era had players possibly on steroids playing against other players possibly on steroids.  The white players of the first half of the century played against other white players while some of the greatest players of the time were not allowed to play. 

What is a greater travesty, the fact that Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs for a few years in a row or the fact that we don't have any highlights to watch of Joe DiMaggio facing Satchel Paige.  I have never seen a highlight of Josh Gibson hitting a home run which upsets me more than the fact that Brady Anderson once hit 50 home runs.