So, do you remember 1999? When the steroid era was in full bloom? It was before iPods and way before everyone and their mother had a cell phone?
Does anyone remember MLB's All-Century Team? I thought about this recently as I was watching a World Series game on MLB.com (MLBtv—amazing gift for anyone), and I remember thinking that if we had to do it all over again, who would we omit and who would we add in. Well, I'll attempt to do that the best way I can.
Here's the list, just in case you can't remember it verbatim:
Ok, let's establish a few ground rules first, so I don't come off as a total hypocrite. I hope you can see my logic heading in. For the guys that got omitted; one was simply because they were overshadowed by steroid users (Bonds), and the other two were left off simply because they weren't playing long enough. But we all know they'd be on the list today. And no, Derek Jeter is not on this list, I am torn up about this!
1) Barry Bonds. Ok, count me in as a person who thinks he absolutely, knowingly used steroids. I don't doubt this for a second. However, he is still the greatest all-around player that I have ever seen in my lifetime, sans Ken Griffey Jr., on any list.
Bonds's numbers before the 2000 season were good enough to be on this list, and Stan Musial should be kicked off. Again, I don't care that Musial may not have done steroids and Bonds most likely did. Bonds has to be on this list. More MVPs than Stan the Man, and seriously, people forget how versatile he was before he was a BALCO All-Star. As much as I hate people parading the race card around, but what if Bonds was white? Would we even be having this discussion? Maybe, maybe not!
2) Alex Rodriguez will go down as one of, if not the greatest infielder statistically ever. I know he hasn't won a ring; I know he hasn't produced in the clutch like everyone though he would, YET. But he has to be on this list. Kick off Ozzie Smith, who was just a wizard in the field, and put A-Rod on there. Anyone who says I'm wrong really needs to get a Breathalyzer.
3) Mariano Rivera was just in his second year as a closer when this list was compiled, but he may have been the best player in the MLB since the start of the 1999 season, and no one has been as valuable. Maybe Jason Varitek and maybe Barry Bonds, but Mo has a World Series MVP since this list was made, and won another ring and the 2003 ALCS MVP against one of the best offensive teams I've ever seen.
(I may hate the Red Sox, but I'll always give them their due, even though I'd rather stick a red-hot poker up my urethra than admit how good they are!)
PEOPLE THAT HAVE NO BUSINESS BEING ON THE ALL-CENTURY TEAM
1) Mark McGwire is easily a runaway to be on this list. I've never seen someone so revered fall so far from grace for avoiding questions. There's no doubt in my mind that he was a steroids user, and he was the quintessential one-trick pony. He could bash a lot of long balls, but he couldn't run, throw, hit for a high average consistently, and now that we know he was juicing (most likely), he really is not an all-time great.
He was Dave Kingman on 'roids, and was so ridiculously overrated it still makes me sick. Was I awed at what happened in 1998? Yes, but I was 16 back then, gimme a little credit!
I hope he gets into a horrible car accident with Tom Brady and they both slowly smolder to death. (Sorry, but that's the way I feel.)
UP FOR DISCUSSION
Roger Clemens is definitely up for discussion. If he didn't have those two years in '97 and '98, would he have been on this list in the first place? Hmmm, tough to say.
Also, up until that point on this list, he never had won a ring (granted it was two games away, but still he did not win a ring yet, and if I recall, he may have asked not to pitch in Game Six of the World Series. He adamantly denies that, and he did have a blister on his pitching finger, but who knows?).
Before he went to Toronto, Roger Clemens looked to be on his last leg in Boston. I know every Red Sox fan has a special place in their sports inferno for him, but he did have two separate 20-strikeout games. He was hands-down the best pitcher for a five-year stretch, but stuff like getting kicked out of a playoff game in '90 and not being able to beat Dave Stewart and the A's (and pieces of shit like McGwire and Canseco) certainly would have gone against him.
Let's be honest here: Clemens' legacy is destroyed. But, looking at things objectively. I honestly don't know if he should be on this list or not now. Also, to really stick it to Red Sox fans, he wore a Yankees cap to that ceremony and he certainly wasn't a revered Yankee then, if he ever was. The whole thing still seems surreal.
But was he doing steroids in his best season of 2001? Also, what about 2004? If he only used steroids in '97, '98, '99 and 2000 like McNamee claims? Can we arbitrarily throw out those two years that he won Cy Young awards?
This is what sucks when one of your favorite athletes ever most likely did steroids and made an ass of himself trying to defend his name and legacy. You just can't speak definitively about matters like this. It's really up to conjecture with Clemens!
Randy Johnson could be on this list if it came out today. He'll get 300 wins, he's second all time in strikeouts, and he pitched his team to victory in the greatest World Series ever!
Curt Schilling, if you recall gave up a huge home run, but R.J. came in and solidified the game from getting out of control to give the D'backs a shot at beating the Yankees. Randy Johnson has to be the best left-handed pitcher ever.
Now that Clemens will forever be in limbo (at least until HOF voters get their say), either Randy Johnson or Pedro has to be the best pitcher of their generation. Remember, Randy Johnson has more wins, Ks, and more important wins against the Yankees than Pedro. (But that's another discussion for another day.)
Pedro Martinez would at least have to be in the discussion an all-time great. Again, he may be the best of his generation, and he may be closer to Sandy Koufax than anyone today. And let's be honest here, from 1997-2000, nobody was in Pedro's universe. Nobody! He should have won the MVP in '99, and I was screaming that as a Yankees fan. He still got robbed of that like A-Rod did in 1996.
Every time he started, it was an event. Throw in his relief appearance in the '99 ALDS, his 17-strikeout game in Yankee Stadium, and the fact that he owned Clemens in their '99 ALCS Game Three matchup, and he may have more of a case than any pitcher today. Maybe! Overall, I'd take Randy Johnson's career, but in his prime, Pedro was better.
Well that's the list, I'm sure it could be a tad infuriating trying to think about this thing. But I did my best. Let me know what you think!