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So who's the Hall of Fame 'roider Tom Boswell mentioned last night?

Sep 29, 2010, 8:23 AM EDT

A Washington Post reporter watched a Hall of Fame player use what he assumed were PEDs. Why are we just hearing about this now?

Note to Ken Burns and PBS: I’d be much more willing to watch “The Tenth Inning” if it wasn’t airing on a night when multiple games with playoff implications were going down. Thanks.

Second note to Ken Burns and PBS: if what my friends are saying is true and “The Tenth Inning” spends a bunch of time on the Jim Leyritz game of the 1996 World Series, I’m probably going to delete it from my DVR before I have a chance to watch it this weekend. Because, really, I never want to see that again. If a highlight that even looks like Jim Leyritz vs. Mark Wohlers comes on my TV I get nauseous as it is, so the last thing I want to do is watch George Will and Doris Kearns Goodwin and God knows who else waxing eloquently about it over some evocative mandolin music. Thanks again.

But some people are watching “The Tenth Inning,” including our friend lar from Wezen-Ball.  And he notes this morning that the most interesting thing from last night’s episode was when Washington Post columnist Tom Boswell said that he once saw a player — who is now in the Hall of Fame — drink something in the clubhouse which the player called “a Jose Canseco milkshake.” Which could have been Slim Fast and B vitamins for all we know, but since Boswell was talking about it during a segment about steroids, he clearly took it to mean that the thing was chock full of PED-ly goodness.

Based on the clues Boswell gave to the player’s identity — a guy who (a) is already in the Hall of Fame; and (b) who hit more home runs after Jose Canseco
arrived in the league than he ever had before — lar tries to figure out who it was.  I won’t give it away but his number one suspect is a guy about whom people have whispered in the past and whom would certainly have benefited from proximity to Jose Canseco.

But back to Boswell.  I recently spouted off about making evidence-free accusations of PED-use, and I stand by such spouting. But in this case, Boswell has apparently been sitting on evidence of a Hall of Famer using what Boswell believed to be PEDs for over 20 years.

I know that Boswell reported as early as 1988 that Jose Canseco used steroids — and his reports were basically ignored by all but a handful of booing fans that fall — but why haven’t we heard anything about this Hall of Fame player before now? Given all that has transpired in the past decade, wouldn’t information about a Hall of Famer’s PED use have been extremely relevant to the national discussion? I’m not saying Boswell just tell the mikshake story and leave it at that, but why not interview the player about it? Why not do some more reporting on it? Why wasn’t this out there before last night?

I won’t accept “what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse” as an answer here. Because if what everyone who goes on about steroids says is true, they damn nigh destroyed the national pastime. In such an instance a reporter seems more than justified — indeed, he seems obligated — to followup on what he saw in the clubhouse and get the story out there. If not in 1988, then certainly by 2002 when the steroid story broke big.

But that didn’t happen. What has happened, if what Boswell says is true, is that a PED user was elected to the Hall of Fame by baseball writers who currently believe that the world will end if a PED user is elected to the Hall of Fame. Mr. Milkshake has a plaque in Cooperstown, but because of the perceived need to keep the Hall of Fame pure, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire won’t get one anytime soon.

I don’t have a problem with PED users in the Hall of Fame and I wish Mr. Milkshake all the best. But I do have a problem with double standards. If what Boswell says is true, a steroid user is in the Hall. If it were widely known that a steroid user were in the Hall — and the world didn’t end because of it — it would necessarily change the way that other steroid users such as Bonds and company were treated when they came up for a vote. Or, at the very least, it would lay the hypocrisy of the electorate bare should it continue to bar the door to the Hall for those guys.

I don’t think we should out guys simply for the sake of outing them, but this seems important to me. People should know which member of the Hall of Fame was a PED user if, indeed, one is. Boswell should follow up on this or, maybe better, someone should follow up on this in his stead using Boswell as a source.  It’s not just a matter of journalism at this point. It’s a matter of history.

  1. Kevin S. - Sep 29, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Honestly, I’m glad we didn’t hear about this until whoever it was got in. And I hope we hear about more guys after they get in. Because it might take the ridiculousness of lesser players who doped being in the Coop for Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, etc. to get their tickets punched.

  2. Megary - Sep 29, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    Did Boswell actually see Mr. Milkshake drink the drink or just mix it? It may be splitting hairs, but if he never actually saw him drink anything, then he has less of a leg to stand on…
    Fwiw, I watched the whole show last night and didn’t think it was all that great. I thought the most interesting part was the recap of the strike. During the early part of ’95, seeing fans (the few that went to the park) throw dollar bills at the players was quite a sight, even if their demonstration was only targeted at half of the problem.

  3. SouthofHeaven - Sep 29, 2010 at 8:52 AM

    I still say that Babe Ruth would have injected PEDs directly into his genitalia if it would have meant 60 more career home runs.
    Also, Ty Cobb is pretty damn close to evil incarnate. And he was the first guy ever elected into the HoF. So…

  4. Jonny5 - Sep 29, 2010 at 8:55 AM

    Why keep anyone out of the HOF? Everyone who put up a “HOF career” should be in there. Then if they did anything to tarnish the game, mention it. How difficult is that? No, we have to fight and argue to keep players out who still existed, and still had great careers. I want Bonds in, and all the rest of the guys using who had HOF caliber careers, just let people know they were busted for using PED’s. Rose, and Jackson? Put them in, mention their stories. It’s not a matter of the player deserving to be in there or not to me. It’s a matter of baseball fans deserving a HOF that portrays the best players ever in a factual manner. What’s with revisionist history and this country anyway? And people support this? Pathetic.

  5. Benny Blanco - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Any ideas on who the player is?

  6. Wooden U Lykteneau - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    Could it possibly be that that player was mocking Jose Canseco? Could it also be that Boswell was demonstrating the devil-may-care attitude of the players during the era?

  7. murd - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    I pretty much agree. When the whole thing first came out I was pissed because the only names you heard were Sosa, McGwire, and guys like that who were breaking the records. It seemed like the only guys using were getting a huge advantage over clean guys. But now it’s obvious just how many guys were using, pitchers and hitters, stars and scrubs. With so many people using, the true talent still outshined everybody else. I mean, Jason Grimsley, Fernando Vina, Ronny Paulino this year. They used but were still average to bad major leaguers.

  8. crotch_jenkins - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:10 AM

    I would like to sign up for your newsletter.

  9. BC - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM

    Hmm. Rickey Henderson?

  10. budro9 - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM

    Since I don’t have to worry about the rules of Jounalism…Can we just say Ricky Henderson and move on? And anyone who didn’t question him before he was voted in is a goon because he had all the evidence we needed even at that point.

  11. Professor Longnose - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    Maybe he followed up but couldn’t get any proof, and used your standards: without proof, he wasn’t going to accuse anyone.

  12. BC - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:20 AM

    One of the greatest sports movie quotes ever:
    “Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it!”

  13. Craig Calcaterra - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    My standards aren’t “beyond a reasonable doubt” here. Even the milkshake story is more evidence than those accusing Bautista have. But even if he couldn’t get anything here, why not tell the story and leave the player nameless? If it’s good enough for Ken Burns, it was good enough for the Washington Post anytime in the past 20 years.

  14. JDOGG - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:41 AM

    OK, maybe it was Ricky, but when Boswell questioned Ricky he got confused with the answers since they were all in the 3rd person:-)

  15. minnesconsin_ad - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:50 AM

    the only reason i can see for boswell not naming names would be if it was actually Ripken. It makes little sense to me, but Boswell was a shameless homer for the orioles, so who knows? it’d be pretty damned ironic if ripken was outed at this stage… would put a lot in perspective at least.

  16. Jonny5 - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:56 AM

    ” (b) who hit more home runs after Jose Canseco arrived in the league than he ever had before”
    I think Craig just admitted to us that he does think taking steroids makes you hit more home runs than before you did them. This is quite a revelation here. ;>P

  17. Trevor B - Sep 29, 2010 at 9:58 AM

    Regardless he should tell us. It isn’t like he is flatout saying, “such player took a steroid shake” he is saying the player called it a Canseco milkshake.

    Now I just want to see Jose Canseco do a remake of the milkshake song.

  18. Tracy - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:00 AM

    Interestingly, my local station in Chicago lost its signal for a few minutes during the 1996 WS portion. Too bad for Craig he doesn’t live up here.

  19. mcsnide - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:03 AM

    Based on Boswell’s comments, I think it has to be someone who hit his career high in 1988 or BEFORE. “It was already spreading by 1988.” Andre Dawson would be the logical choice. It also would make sense that Boswell would mention now that Dawson’s safely in the Hall.
    That said, how do we know the player in question was actually using? If it’s widespread knowledge that Canseco’s using, it seems that it’d be the kind of thing guys would joke about when mixing a protein shake.

  20. Kevin S. - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:04 AM

    Ray Liotta had such a weird laugh after that line, but it was pretty frickin’ funny.

  21. Chipmaker - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:16 AM

    I found that Boswell comment very intriguing as well, and played it back a few times to make sure I understood it. Now, Boswell is a gifted writer and we could parse what he said very carefully, but at face value, he is claiming there is a HOFer who used Canseco’s special homebrew recipe, and had a peak HR season after the Joser got called up to the majors.
    That’s a small population, HOFers who played in 1985 or later. I checked — there are 29 such men. Some were teammates of Canseco, but Boswell didn’t specify anything about that.
    Let’s winnow the bunch down to the likeliest suspects:
    First, throw out the pitchers — Carlton (who had the biggest HR season of these nine, three in 1977), Eckersley, Fingers, Gossage (zero), Niekro, Ryan, Seaver, Sutter (zero), and Sutton (zero).
    Next, toss out the men who had their peak HR season before 1985 (and, note, some of these guys were done by 1985-86): Jackson (peak season in 1969), Perez (1970), Carew (1975, ’77), Rice (1978), Schmidt (1980), Winfield (1982), Yount (1981), Murray (1983).
    We’re left with:
    Brett (30 in 1985)
    Carter (32, 1985)
    Fisk (37, 1985)
    Smith (6, 1985) — we can probably exclude Ozzie.
    Puckett (31, 1986)
    Henderson (28, 1986 & ’90)
    Boggs (24, 1987)
    Dawson (49, 1987)
    Sandberg (40, 1990)
    Ripken (34, 1991)
    Molitor (22, 1993)
    Gwynn (17, 1997)
    Considering these peak seasons just on how much they appear incongruous to the rest of the player’s career, Boggs’ 24 is very curious, and Dawson never got close to 49 again, though in 1987 everyone was going yard frequently.
    Puckett made a BIG jump in 1986.
    And … well, this is already long and not the best forum for speculation. I don’t know to whom Boswell might have been referring. Could be any one of these. But it’s intriguing to think what the fallout might be if the name becomes known, and if the name does become known, which one it is will inspire different reactions. If it IS Ripken, heads will explode. If it’s Puckett, well, he’s already deceased, so we cannot even learn more first-hand.
    I wonder if Boswell voted for the player when his name came up on the Hall ballot.

  22. BC - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:17 AM

    Ray Liotta is an odd duck.

  23. BC - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:20 AM

    I would think if Dawson was a user, he’d have hit about 700 home runs. He kept breaking down. If he used, he either wouldn’t have broken down as much, or he would have recovered faster. Think Mark McGwire. In ’93-’94 the dude could barely stay on the field. And then, hello Newman. Better living through chemistry.

  24. Scott - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    I didn’t see this but I find this evidence to be massively underwhelming.
    Everyone who knows anything about steroids will tell you that you need to get your nutrition in line to have any effect – and if your goal is to gain weight you have to be at a caloric surplus. A professional athlete expends far more calories than an average person and needs a LOT of calories to put on strength if that’s their goal (steroids or no steroids). Everyone in the weightlifting community knows one of the easiest way to down a lot of calories is shakes where you throw a bunch of stuff in a blender.
    What I’m saying is Canseco roided and clearly knew a lot about nutrition to look the way he did – he probably had developed some damn good shake recipies over his years of trainings that were simply mixes of yogurt/milk/peanut butter/protein powder/oil etc. etc. etc. Him handing another guy a shake IN FULL VIEW OF THE MEDIA means nothing.

  25. mcsnide - Sep 29, 2010 at 10:26 AM

    Right. I’m not accusing Dawson of doing PEDs. I don’t think Boswell’s comment proves anything other than that it was widespread knowledge that Jose was on the juice. I just think of the candidates discussed, Dawson fits the best in that conversation.

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