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Hall of Famer Frank Thomas is still suspicious of his peers

Jan 15, 2014, 11:25 PM EDT

frank thomas

USA TODAY’s Ted Berg recapped an as yet unaired episode of Jim Rome on Showtime, writing that recent Hall of Fame inductee Frank Thomas is still asking questions about some of the players who played at the same time he did, including Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire.

“I knew it was shady when Sammy Sosa hit 60 home runs,” Thomas said.”Sammy Sosa was my teammate for three years coming up. So watching his career and watching him grow, for three years he was capable of only 20-25, 27 home runs at the most… there’s no way Sammy doubled me up. With Mark McGwire, you really had to take a look at it because Mark McGwire had 48 home runs as a rookie.”

Thomas also criticized ESPN’s Skip Bayless:

“I hate to bring up names,” Thomas said, “but Skip Bayless even said the other week, ‘How did I walk through the door without any suspicion?’ And I would like to have a conversation with him because I walked the walk and talked the talk from Day 1.”

If you thought Thomas would let the issue go now that he has earned induction into the Hall of Fame, think again. It seems like Thomas is going to be harping on this issue for a while. Thomas is on record saying that he doesn’t believe that PED users should be in the Hall of Fame. One has to wonder when the media and some of the more vocal former and active players will simply accept that the offensive boom of the late 1980’s through the early 1990’s happened and it’s fruitless to try to act as if it never happened.

  1. oldschoolnflman - Jan 15, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    If Frank ever gets tied to PEDs, what a sad day for the sport it would be. I hope he was clean.

    • jdd428 - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:41 AM

      I agree with your basic premise, but I highly doubt Hurt ever did PEDs. He was always huge, always had tremendous power and also was always highly vocal against PEDs.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:51 AM

        and that proves nothing,

      • jeffbbf - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:10 AM

        Good for you, Frank. Keep getting your message out there that a player can have a successful career without PEDs. This is one message I will never tire of hearing. I’d rather see Frank on this blog every 15 minutes than see another freakin’ ARod upchuck.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:52 AM

      Ozzie should have beaten up Thomas when he had the chance.

    • mmeyer3387 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

      I do not really care if Thomas ever used PED’S. I’m a fan I love watching the game. So all of you guys that are so concerned about morality; just leave us diehard fans alone and go find a real religion to be the objective of your worship.

  2. braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:03 AM

    “One has to wonder when the media and some of the more vocal former and active players will simply accept that the offensive boom of the late 1980′s through the early 1990′s happened and it’s fruitless to try to act as if it never happened.”

    What does this even mean. Clearly they know it happened and that’s why they discuss it and give their opinions about it.

    • Bill Baer - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:53 AM

      By keeping Bonds, A-Rod, et. al. out of the Hall of Fame, they’re effectively whitewashing baseball history.

      • braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:18 AM

        I disagree. I believe they are recognizing it how they see fit, with condemnation. No one likes cheats. And please don’t pull the ‘two wrongs make a right’ spiel about how there already are cheaters in the Hall. I know there are, and I’m tired of explaining that two wrongs do not make a right. We don’t need to purposely put cheaters in the Hall of Fame because there already are cheaters in the Hall of Fame. That’s senseless and foolish behavior.

      • braxtonrob - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:30 AM

        I agree with you 1000% Bill Baer. Eventually everyone (writers included) will have to accept that nobody is perfect and that it is more practical to accept (while still amonishing) their imperfection.

        I, personally, did nothing wrong, so why should my fanaticism for the HOF be punished?
        Let ’em in, whenever, but let them in.

        It’s not like a country full of baseball fans stopped watching these self-made monsters play when we all knew they were poppin’ muscle-pills.

        If I want sanctuary from bad deeds or bad people, I’ll go to my church.
        When I go to the HOF, I expect a history lesson, no more, no less.
        With all due respect to my favorite players like Bench and Frank Thomas, etcetera, they’re just going to have to accept it too.

      • timmmah10 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:51 AM

        Let’s just make an MLB Roids Wing of the HOF. Put these guys in there as “Those who tarnished their legacies to bring back baseball’s popularity”. And be done with it.

        Because, let’s be honest guys, everyone made money off of them. The writers got more readers, the MLB got more money, and all players got bigger contracts. Everyone capitalized off of these guys. Always remember, the improvement in value to the game of baseball due to the steroid era will always be marginally higher than the devaluing happening now as these names are dragged through the mud. So even though we’re boxing out the roiders from the Hall making us feel good about ourselves, we’ve all had the wool pulled over our eyes by the MLB.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:53 AM

        There’s a basic difference between Bonds/McGwire/Sosa and Alex Rodriguez. Before 2004 there was no actual rule, no consequences. Before 2004 MLB leadership either condoned the actions of PED users or actively looked the other way. (Anyone recall how Bud Selig criticized the reporter who pointed out the androstenedione in Mark McGwire’s locker? I do.)

        I don’t think HoF voters should ignore PED use, but it does I think have to be taken into account. Likewise, I don’t think ostracizing all of them is particularly fair either. Rodriguez certainly knew their were consequences if he got caught and used PEDs any way. I’ve zero issue with any writer who chooses to leave him off his/her ballot when the time comes. The guys from the 1990s? Some were clearly all Aaron’s great players, like Bonds–put them in but add PED implications to the plaque. Others were one trick ponies–like Sosa; leaving him off the ballot is defensible, especially when taking PEDs into account.

      • mmeyer3387 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:58 AM

        Bill you clearly right on this one; we need to be honest with ourselves. Baseball’s past history isn’t much different than our present era. MLB has a very long history of the same kind of issues, under a different name in order to get an edge. The whole issue is full of dishonesty and exaggeration, to where the voters act like they are the appointed keepers of a holy relic or religion. Clearly the HOF is full of past players that cheated by other means; this is nothing new. In the past pitchers used spitters, most players used coffee with amphetamines, some corked or had rubber balls in their bats, some scuffed the ball or used grease on the ball. First, these examples go back several decades and are just another means to get a head up on others. Secondly, why is baseball looked at from a different view than other sports, like football, where players used PED’s for three or four decades? Thirdly, how can voters keep out someone out like Mike Piazza because they wonder if he did use PED’s; even when there is no real proof? Yet, many voters refused to vote for him because they claim it’s a moral stand. But those voting did not have any proof that is creditable. The factor that they are uncomfortable is a weak excuse. Fourth, there are players like Bonds that had a hall of fame career before PED,s were an issue. Fifth, many HOF players in the past cheated and were still voted in. Clearly, its time to move on and use the same standards for today’s player that were used in the past.

  3. Glenn - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:36 AM

    I am tired of hearing about McGuire’s rookie season giving him legitimacy. His rookie year was one of abnormal and a still unexplained home run upsurge in the league. Even Wade Boggs had 24 homers that season, more than triple his average and more than double his next highest total. Plus, who’s to say McGuire wasn’t using PEDs then?

    • jdd428 - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:46 AM

      Who is McGuire? Was he ever teammates with pitchers like Maddox and Clemmons?

      • crackersnap - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        Wasn’t McGuire the guy who could jumpstart the space shuttle with an empty SpaghettiOs can, a flip-phone battery, and a burnt umber crayon?

      • bigdicktater - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:54 AM

        Did Lester and Clarence play ball too?

      • kopy - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

        I think he meant Sean Maguire. Robin Williams’s character from Good Will Hunting.

    • km9000 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:51 AM

      Thomas isn’t exactly defending or praising McGwire, just saying his power later in his career wasn’t as obviously suspicious as someone like Sosa.

    • sbmcintosh36 - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:14 AM

      Don’t know who this McGuire fella is you speak of but Mark McGwire wasn’t using his rookie season he started using when he couldn’t stay on the field due to injuries,his foot specifically.
      Roids weren’t and aren’t used to necessarily get bigger that’s just a benefit they’re used to get and stay healthy longer that’s how you get bigger it helps the muscles rebound quicker letting you work out more often and longer.

  4. sfm073 - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:46 AM

    How does one of the biggest and most muscular players in the history of the sport go without suspicion?

    • jdd428 - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      Because he was always huge and never suddenly went through an offseason gaining 30-50 pounds of muscle and have his cap size increase three times.

      • maikoch - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:05 AM

        Can we put to rest that old chestnut that he was “always huge”? Compare this photo:

        To this one:

      • braxtonrob - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:18 PM

        @maikoch, Why don’t you just get a picture of Thomas when he was 12? That’ll REALLY prove he did drugs.

        Everybody is allowed to get a little bigger (via genetics). You can’t just assume everyone hits the big leagues at full size. When I was coming out of college I weighed 160, now I’m 210, and I barely worked out since then, Some people just get big genetically dude.

        It’s when you see abnormally enlarged muscle mass. When they make bodybuilders look like tiny muscles, something’s going on. The tougher to spot (but not necessarily innocent) are the ones who don’t work out.

  5. sawxalicious - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:55 AM

    My opinion is that Big Frank never used PEDs. Assuming he didn’t I think he has every right to harp on this issue. If all the other players ( pitchers included) the baseball season outcomes night have been vastly different. Maybe Frank’s numbers are even better, maybe he has some additional MVP hardware (ahem, Giambi), maybe he visits the post season more. I know it’s happened, and we can’t change the past, but we can attempt to limit PED use in the future. Additionally, Frank has a right to be P.O.d because even he and his accomplishments will always be looked at funny because of the era he played in. In my given career field (law enforcement), I take issue with any police officers that are found to be breaking the law, because it hurts my profession and reflects poorly on everyone that’s trying to do things the right way, just like how all MLB’ers from the 80’a 90’s, and early 00’s that try to do things the right way have a right to take issue with this. Just my opinion.

  6. mrmcl - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:21 AM

    Bill Baer | Jan 15, 2014, 11:53 PM CST
    By keeping Bonds, A-Rod, et. al. out of the Hall of Fame, they’re effectively whitewashing baseball history.

    No, by keeping obvious cheaters out of the Hall of Fame, they’re effectively standing against a culture that has lost its mind. Some folks still have standards; Bonds and A-Rod don’t meet them.

    • mmeyer3387 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:06 AM

      Clearly, this is far from the first time in the history of baseball that players used enhanced means to be better players or reach higher levels of play. Quick examples are pitchers using grease, spitt, or scuffing the ball. Hitters using enhanced items such as; cork, rubber balls or other means for bat enhancements. These examples have been around for a very long time and there are many more. The honest bottom line is that PED’S are just another method of cheating. Yes, let’s call it cheating, because that is what it is, but it’s not really anything new. Much like in the past, some guys will do anything to win. The HOF is not about a players morals or the viewpoint of some big mouth journalist preaching to his disciples. The real truth is all we can do is embrace the truth, make new rules to change behavior and move on. This approach has worked well in the past. The game is for our enjoyment, not for being a religion to decide who worthy or unworthy.

  7. themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:05 AM

    I tend not to believe in whitewashing history. That which happened, happened. Let us not pretend otherwise. Baseball enjoyed a tremendous popularity and resurgence on the backs of Sosa, Bonds, McGwire and others. Owners, executives, officials of all stripe turned a blind eye to what was going on and this includes the media. They didn’t get truly serious until testing and penalties began (early 2000’s).

    We can make the same arguments for the segregation era players, after all. Do we so persecute segregation era players and officals? No. Do we run them down for colluding to play against inferior opponents? No. We do not. Yet why doesn’t the argument “I know it was wrong but it was part of the culture at the time” carry the same weight from that argument to this? Just to travel a bit further down this road, why are steroids & amphetamine seen as more evil than racist practices?

    No, we allow the segregation era players and officials and many who came after (who drank illegally, beat their spouses, abused minorities and committed sundry other malfeasance) to enjoy their records intact and free of this discourse of “banning”.

    So, until MLB got serious, ratified rules and set up testing, from then and only from then should we even be having this discourse.

    Otherwise, those who profited the least (players) are made to suffer the most while those who made the most (MLB owners and officials) are allowed a free pass on what occurred.

    As for Mr. Thomas, well good for him for being a clean player, however his lack of understanding of the culture in which he played is a touch tragic. His rather concrete and monochromatic view of drug use in his sport and lack of nuance in his thinking doesn’t speak well for him.

    • braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:12 AM

      “Just to travel a bit further down this road, why are steroids & amphetamine seen as more evil than racist practices?”

      QUITE a strawman there. Yikes.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:13 AM

        Perhaps you should look up the definition of a strawman.

      • braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:14 AM

        Perhaps you should stop using them so much.

      • braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:16 AM

        Talk about a ‘lack of nuance” in one’s thinking. You don’t even understand the difference between a person being a racist and a person cheating in a professional sport. It’s amusing that you would even attempt to compare the two.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:21 AM

        My goodness. It must be nice to be as simple minded as you. Life is so easy to quantify and justifications are so easy to arrive at. I wish I could do this so easily. Alas. My brain works.

      • braddavery - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:25 AM

        It’s always amusing when someone heads right into personal insults during a discussion when they can’t defend their statements.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:26 AM

        Yes. I wish you hadn’t done it. Still, here we are. Anyhow, your lack of understanding isn’t my problem, sir. It is entirely yours. Good luck with that.

    • paperlions - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:51 AM

      If you are unfamiliar with Brad, he has a raging boner for steroids and regularly exhibits willful ignorance in this regard (how they work, what they do), especially with respect to amphetamines (which are far more dangerous). As far as he’s concerned using steroids is the worst thing you can do and is completely responsible for the offensive explosion that happened to coincide exactly with the change in manufacturers (which used different manufacturing processes and materials) of MLB baseballs. It is best to just ignore him on this issue.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:00 AM

        Thank you. I think I will ignore him from here forward. He doesn’t seem to do much thinking about things, does he? Even worse he parses statements to isolate portions of thoughts to create controversy. As though context is unimportant and portions of a thought can represent a whole idea. Sloppy thinking and deliberately misconstruing other’s statements isn’t a virtue. Nor does it deserve much debate.

      • paperlions - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:03 AM

        Nah, he doesn’t. He thinks what he thinks and won’t be changing his opinion no matter what, doesn’t consider actual data important to forming that opinion, and will not be swayed by such malleable things like….you know, facts.

    • jfk69 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:48 PM

      Bla bla bla….The three players you mentioned were caught. Take a look at their bodies today. Case closed.

      • themanytoolsofignorance - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:52 PM

        Barry Bonds is in excellent health and regularly posts pictures of himself enjoying a vigorous cycling hobby post baseball.

        Sammy Sosa, aside from morphing into a white man, appears to be in playing shape.

        Mark McGwire is a hitting instructor who appears not only healthy but managed to execute his duties quite effectively.

        What is your point?

  8. dubblelznhell - Jan 16, 2014 at 2:42 AM

    It’s simple. The year rookie McGwire hit 48 and Boggs hit 24, the balls were affected. Bouncing off the bats faster and farther. Baseball, like every other professional sport is a “show”. What you see, is what you want.

  9. jayquintana - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    The only way to know for certain who used and who didn’t is to have everyone take a lie detector test.

    • karlkolchak - Jan 16, 2014 at 7:05 AM

      Yeah, because lie detector tests are so reliable they are allowed to be used in trials…oh wait.

  10. louhudson23 - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:29 AM

    This must be a tough week for the WAB’s…first A-Rod gets shown the door and now this newly crowned HoF just won’t buy the false equivalency narrative. Stomp your foot and jump up and down..maybe that will help….meanwhile,how many 40HR seasons this year,do you think? 50? 60? 70?

  11. vikesdynasty - Jan 16, 2014 at 5:37 AM

    I’m suspicious of you Mr. Thomas.

  12. bkbell3 - Jan 16, 2014 at 6:19 AM

    I’m not saying it doesn’t help but i wish someone could quantify exactly how roids helps you put the bat on the ball. Guys like bonds,Sosa and McGuire etc. could already hit a ball 500 feet so how does being stronger help you hit it 385 feet. Guys can easily get stronger lifting weights and do. Stronger doesn’t necessarily translate to bat speed and doesn’t help hand eye coordination. I know roids help in recovery from activities and injuries so it seems that would help pitchers to recover faster after pitching and being strong doesn’t translate into a faster fastball. Does it help being stronger so that if you don’t get all of it your strength lets you hit it enough to clear the fence? I’ve also read articles that said around that time the ball might have been wrapped tighter as well as a lot of parks moving in fences. It just seems to simplistic to take a pill or a shot and boom you hit home runs and if so why weren’t more players numbers shooting up. If you look a Rafieal polarmo he never got bigger and he hit an average amount of home runs for a large number of years.

    • Chipmaker - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:07 AM

      Just look at Ozzie Canseco. Built the same as his twin brother, couldn’t hit the ball for beans. Ergo, PEDs do nothing for pitch selectivity and strike zone discipline.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:12 AM

      To truly quantify it, more scientific studies would have to be done. Even without that, however, it does stand to reason that the anabolic steroids would have at least effect, likely variable from player to player based on how much they work out, what sort of training they do, their own metabolism, and other factors.

      Every major sport has disallowed steroid use, and I agree with that stance. I don’t agree with the ex post facto witch hunt is all.

      There is one class of PED, BTW, that does increase ability to concentrate short term as a hitter, to “see” the ball better–namely amphetamines. Nobody goes witch hunting over those though.

      • paperlions - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        There are some data that suggest that the effect of steroids is difficult to quantify and likely was overwhelmed by other changes in baseball. As we know, steroid use was common for at least 25 years before the 1993 explosion in HR rates (again, that coincided perfectly with a change in baseball manufacturer from Spalding to Rawlings, or vise-versa). League-wide, HR rates increase by over 33% from 1992 to 1994 (the new ball was introduced in mid-1993). Suddenly, everyone was hitting more HRs, despite the fact that we know that a LOT of guys were using steroids before that….it wasn’t until other factors came into play that crazy HR totals occurred. An under rated factor is that during that time the K-zone got time, which eventually forced MLBto pressure umpires to start calling the rule book K-zone.

      • raysfan1 - Jan 16, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        All true, ‘Lions.

        I’ve amused myself before by drawing up a double blind study to examine a particular steroid’s effects–the amusing part is imagining the head explosions, etcetera, when trying to convince some league to allow a percentage of their players to be legally “on the juice” over a period of years.

    • braxtonrob - Jan 16, 2014 at 4:27 PM

      @bkbell, Dude! When your 300 foot fly outs turn into 350 foot HR’s, your AVG goes up (with your HR totals) and you go from a .260 hitter with 30 HR’s to a .300 hitter with 55 HR’s.

      It ain’t rocket science, they cheated, they got away with it, thanks to MLB looking the other way for so long, end of story (unless you care about the HOF).

      • bkbell3 - Jan 17, 2014 at 3:22 PM

        DUDE, reading comprehension? You have no idea who cheated or when or how. The question was exactly what roid do and how it translates to more home runs. Alot of guys are strong as hell naturally and a lot of guys are quick as hell naturally so i would like to know more about how it translates into more home runs for some but not for others DUDE. Like i said more strength doesn’t mean more bat speed or body builders would be MLB players. And actually it is kind of rocket science, DUDE

      • braxtonrob - Jan 18, 2014 at 1:15 AM

        “it is kind of rocket science”

        No, it isn’t.

        I played. It isn’t.
        Bodybuilders can’t hit because they don’t want to practice the 1,000 hours of hitting a year it takes to develop a quick bat, and the ability to hit for contact, then power.

        It isn’t rocket science, it’s two things (for regular players):
        1. Desire
        2. Practice

        and three things for cheaters:
        3. ‘roids.

        ‘roid can’t make a bad player great, but they can damn sure make a good player great.

  13. jarathen - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:19 AM

    Frank Thomas is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a very deserving one at that. I don’t know why he would concern himself with what other players did or didn’t do; they’re obviously being punished, whether evidence exists or not, and he should be content knowing he will be enshrined in Cooperstown while noted PED abusers like Guillermo Mota will never even be considered.

  14. stex52 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:24 AM

    I’m pretty ambivalent about the whole PED’s question. We have been over both sides, so I won’t beat it to death here.

    What bothers me badly is to freely associate players’ names with PED’s without some minimum standards of proof. That is reprehensible. Baseball writers are the worst. But I see Hurt starting to skirt that line. Don’t go public with “suspicions.” It is just flat wrong.

  15. skids003 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:32 AM

    Hey, if he goes after Skip Clueless, I’m with him.

  16. timmmah10 - Jan 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Let’s just make an MLB Roids Wing of the HOF. Put these guys in there as “Those who tarnished their legacies to bring back baseball’s popularity”. And be done with it.

    Because, let’s be honest guys, everyone made money off of them. The writers got more readers, the MLB got more money, and all players got bigger contracts. Everyone capitalized off of these guys. Always remember, the improvement in value to the game of baseball due to the steroid era will always be marginally higher than the devaluing happening now as these names are dragged through the mud. So even though we’re boxing out the roiders from the Hall making us feel good about ourselves, we’ve all had the wool pulled over our eyes by the MLB.

  17. happytwinsfan - Jan 16, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    if during the period when ped use was apparently rampant, almost no one was getting caught, and before everybody decided that using ped’s is worse then strangling a kitten, a player used ped’s not to get an advantage, but to avoid being at a competitive disadvantage, was that player a “cheater”?

  18. abaird2012 - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:23 AM

    Doesn’t PED use make you strangle kittens?

  19. sf69ers - Jan 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    the real issue with peds to me is the obsession with the power numbers, and how much better overall players like lofton, biggio, and raines are having difficulty getting into the hof because of the inflated hr numbers of their era. Thomas and others should be standing up for those players, and not trying to put down obvious cheaters.

    • jarathen - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:41 PM

      There’s a wicked double standard at play here, absolutely. It’s hard for pitchers to stand out because of exaggerated power, and players who didn’t mash pale in comparison to players like Sosa. And 600 homers, which would have been automatic enshrinement, is now “well, maybe.”

      Which boggles the mind. A dude who mashes 600 taters is not an every day occurrence.

  20. schlom - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:48 PM

    I hope everyone realizes that Lance Armstrong said the pretty much the exact same thing as Frank Thomas as well as every other busted cyclist. But I’m sure this time it’s true.

  21. yordo - Jan 16, 2014 at 12:50 PM

    Frank loves deflecting attention from himself. Makes you wonder.

  22. jfk69 - Jan 16, 2014 at 1:44 PM

    Bonds,McGuire and Clemons can join Pete Rose in the Hall of Shame any day. They will never get in. And if they do.Then the enshrinement process has been belittled. I would acknowledge them and the era in the hall with a small non steroid size plaque in a place near a rest room. Since that is usually where they shot up. Case closed

    • stex52 - Jan 16, 2014 at 3:30 PM

      I like the “case closed” thing. Sounds all lawyerly. Covers your comment with a faint patina of the possibility that you actually know what you are talking about.

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