May 27, 2020

Let’s Hear Some Chatter Did Not Test Positive for Steroids

August 5, 2009 by · 5 Comments 

After the “revelation” that David Ortiz appeared as one of the 104 players on the 2003 list of positive tests for use of performance enhancing drugs, I transcribed the following conversation from a talk-radio show on ESPN Radio in New York.

CALLER:  Because Big Papi and Manny were using steroids; I think the Red Sox should vacate their World Series titles.  They weren’t clean and those are the guys that beat the Yankees!

HOST: Umm, didn’t that Yankee team have admitted users like Jason Giambi, Kevin Brown, and Alex Rodriguez?

CALLER:  Oh, right.


CALLER:  Never mind.

Despite sounding completely ignorant in a public setting, I can sympathize with the caller. I would be lying if I said I didn’t angrily flash back to the 2004 ALCS where Ortiz flat out killed the Yankees.

Ortiz hit .387 with a 1.199 OPS.  He launched three homeruns—all in clutch moments—and drove in 11 runs in SEVEN GAMES!  I’ll take a moment to let you digest those numbers.  Take one more.

Take another glance, Ortiz’s performance in that series was insane.  Between games four through seven, Ortiz hoisted his entire team onto his chemically enhanced shoulders and dragged them to the Promised Land.  Yet, I have no right to be bitter or indignant.  A year earlier, Jason Giambi blasted two homers in Game 7 of the ALCS off of Pedro Martinez.  They kept the Yankees within striking distance and laid the groundwork for the now famous comeback capped off by Aaron Boone’s 11th inning walk-off against Tim Wakefield.

The reality is that at Yankee Stadium on October 20, 2004, the number of players involved in the game, who used or are suspected to have used PEDs, is not one to be easily dismissed.  It just so happened that the Red Sox players had the hook-up to the stuff that did not wear off in high-pressure moments.

The entirety of the steroid era has left us adrift in the waters of history.  We can’t connect or compare our contemporary stars with those of the past, because today’s gaudy numbers are highly suspect.  At the same time, we can’t predict the future of our modern heroes, because their chemical indiscretions have obscured our vision.  A thick layer of fog envelops us and leaves us blind and unaware of when the next wave of damaging information may hit.

Shawn Anderson at the Hall of Very Good analyzed the Hall of Fame classes of the next few years.  Starting in 2011, Rafael Palmeiro and Kevin Brown hit the ballot.  By numbers alone, Palmeiro should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.  Mark McGwire should have been too.

That’s where we are right now.  The truisms that we once relied upon now have been muddied.  Players we thought were great have been proven as cheaters.  Others play under the suspicion of using PEDs.  Everything we thought we knew about Major League Baseball has been obscured.

If everything Jose Canseco wrote ends up to be true (shudder)—mainly that 80-85 percent of major leaguers used—how do we evaluate this era in history?  Does it mean that most of the players WERE actually on an even playing field?  If so, then, just like always, those that excelled should go into the Hall of Fame, while those that did not should not.

In order to celebrate the players that did not use performance enhancers, I propose that the Hall of Fame create an exhibit in Cooperstown akin to that of the All-American Girls Baseball League.  Clean players that existed during the steroid era could have their own room.  Murals of players like David Eckstein and Craig Counsell could line the walls.  The curators could prominently display Alex Cintron’s Flintstones chewable vitamins and Carlos Baerga’s girdle.

Hollywood could even make a movie trumpeting the courage of ballplayers such as these.  We could make it as a sequel to A League of Their Own.  Geena Davis could reprise her role as Dottie Henson, a now aged star of the AAGBL disgusted by the current state of the game she loves, who does not want to share the Hall of Fame with known PED users.  James Cromwell could play Bud Selig, Drew Carey could be Donald Fehr, and Rosie O’Donnell would be perfect as Jose Canseco.



5 Responses to “Let’s Hear Some Chatter Did Not Test Positive for Steroids”
  1. Cary Allen says:

    First thing: MLBPA consents to release of 2003 test results so the wheat can be separated from the chaff.

  2. Todd Civin says:

    Well done as always..Shame that this won’t go away. I’m with you however. If users aren’t allowed in, then we may just go the next two decades only electing announcers and umpires into the Hall.

  3. Ariel says:

    I agree about the problem not letting them in, but this is considered cheating just like Pete Rose did… cheating is cheating. There should be some form of future punishment made on these records that these players have, maybe they’re suspended from being on the ballots for a few years i dunno. But they’ve tainted the idea of baseball and i’m not so angry about the steroid use but what it’s done to my image of the past 15 years i’ve watched baseball.

  4. Mark Loeb says:

    You can’t blame the 2004 ALCS on juice! The Red Sox were down 3-nil, and cleanly took it from the Yankees. And your telling me know one on the ’96-’01 Yankees rosters weren’t on the sauce. Common.


  5. Josh Deitch says:

    1) I didn’t blame 2004 on the steroids…Giambi was on roids, A-Rod was on roids, Kevin Brown, the starter of game 7–roids. Of the 20-something people that participated in Game 7 of the ALCS, at least half were probably on something…like I said, the Sox just had the hook-up to the better stuff.

    2) I think keeping players found guilty of using PEDs off the ballot until they reach the old-timers voting is a valid idea…that way you don’t have condescending sportswriters voting based on their own notions of the “purity of the game” and it would be a form of punishment for players like Bonds and Clemens who would have been first ballot HoFers without the chemical enhancements.

    3) Release the list…it’s not doing anyone any good staying anonymous at this point…also, players were told they would be tested in 2003–like the specific date and time–that 104 of them still tested positive is absurd

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