I don’t normally climb to the top of my ivory tower and simply bloviate, but today I’m going to do just that.
I’m getting some blow-back from people on Twitter since I posted my piece HOF: The Case for Bagwell. The reason being that there seems to be an undercurrent that Bagwell is unworthy of inclusion in the Hall of Fame because he did steroids. There are quite a few reasons that paint such a view as asinine.
(1) Bagwell never failed a drug test and was never caught purchasing drugs.
(2) Just because a guy is muscular is no reason to simply assume that he is doing Performance Enhancing Drugs (PED’s). In fact, Bagwell’s thoughts on the matter can be found in Jeff Bagwell tires of steroids talk. Bagwell himself admits that he got too big from trying to make the cover of Muscle and Fitness magazine. Instead of being smart and training like a baseball player should, he just focused on strength and bulk. Bagwell also points out that he was an obsessive weight lifter who literally spent hours in the gym every day.
(3) People are pointing to his offensive explosion in 1994 as some proof of steroid use. I got news for you folks, sometimes people just have out of nowhere performances, and it has nothing to do with PED use. See Jose Bautista in 2010 for a recent example if you have already forgotten. Speaking of Bautista, my Breaking Down piece lists all of the reasons that you should avoid counting on Bautista as a building block for 2011.
(4) Some have pointed out that Bagwell flamed out at the end of his career, to which I respond so what? Bagwell’s weightlifting effectively ruined his shoulder to the point that it was almost impossible for him to throw the ball across the infield. He simply couldn’t swing the bat at the end of his career. Secondly, he retired at 37 years of age. Back in the day almost every player was done, or nearly done, by that age. It’s only recently that players have been able to sustain success into their late 30′s.
Do I think that Bagwell did steroids? No I don’t, but honestly, that’s besides the point. The fact is that he never failed a test, so unless he comes out and admits that he took PED’s then we must presume his innocence (we still do that in the United States right? You know, the whole presumed innocent until proven guilty thing that is a foundational building block of our country).
I find it laughably pathetic that there is such rampant hypocrisy in sports.
Chargers’ LB Shawne Merriman was suspended for steroid use in 2006. That same season he was elected to the NFL Pro Bowl. Where is the outrage for that?
Michael Vick, a convicted felon for torturing and murdering dogs, has been welcomed back to the NFL with open arms to make gazillions of dollars and to be adored by millions for his football talents despite the fact that he is a deplorable human being. He was named to the Pro Bowl the other day.
But what do we do in the world of baseball? We cast baseless aspersions and impugn people’s character and reputation merely on supposition. That sickens me. Any player who has been tied to PED use in the public is roundly scorned, derided, and ultimately their place in history is tarnished to the point that their performance on the field is almost completely ignored – even though there is no proof that they did anything illegal.
Did, and do, baseball players use PED’s? With 100 percent certainty I can agree with that statement. Which players took PED’s? I have no idea, and despite what you think, neither do you. If we don’t know who took them how can we blame anyone? Do we just say that any player who suited up from 1990′s and first decade of the 20th century should be banned from the Hall of Fame?
I know that hypocrisy knows no bounds, but there will be none of it at BaseballGuys.com. Barring incontrovertible proof that would result in a conviction in a court of law, I’m going to go with the principles instilled by our Founding Fathers that all men, and women, are innocent until proven guilty.