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Great Moments in Steroids Derp

Jul 29, 2014, 11:42 AM EDT

140724-frank-thomas-1000 Getty Images

This story at ABC News is correct to note that, if it wasn’t for the 2005 PED hearings in Congress, far less attention would’ve been paid to the matter. I mean, yes, Jose Canseco’s book and Ken Caminiti’s comments in interviews really started things, but the Congressional hearings did go a long way in helping form public opinion on the matter.

For worse, I’d argue — baseball had already started its drug testing program at the time, the Congressional hearings were not really in Congress’ bailiwick and the public opinion that has been forged is, almost always, ill-informed and reactionary — but they did have an effect.

But there’s one thing those hearings did not do:

The Baseball Hall of Fame will add six new members to its ranks at this weekend’s ceremony in Cooperstown. Three superstar players and three brilliant managers – all of whom were active and clean of drug allegations during some of baseball’s darkest days – will get their plaques.

Though the now-famous congressional hearings drew criticism at the time, it’s quite possible baseball wouldn’t see a moment like this if not for Congress. The March 2005 session on steroids in baseball served as a wake-up call for baseball to clean itself up, ultimately opening the doors for the players who were clean during a tainted era to gain election to the Hall, according to ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian.

If you have an argument that Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame but for the PEDs story becoming a big one, I’d really like to hear it.

Heck, here’s a better argument: if the PED issue had not been blown up and used for so much grandstanding, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro would be in the Hall, as would Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell and Biggio. With those off the ballot, other worthy candidates like Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling would have more votes and may be in now already.

  1. hojo20 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:50 AM

    We can’t have steroid users/compilers like Biggio clogging the ballot either.

    • raysfan1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:55 AM

      Don’t worry, he won’t be after January since he will be elected.

    • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:31 PM

      What is a compiler? A player that was very good for a very long time? Is that a bad thing?

      • tved12 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:16 PM

        Thank you sir, I’ve always thought the same thing.

        I have never liked the Yankees. That said, I see this argument used against Jeter all the time. Ok, so the guy “compiled” his way to the 7th most hits in baseball history.

        Teams aren’t loyal, they would drop you like a bad habit if you weren’t performing. If a team thinks you’re good enough to keep around, and you “compile” good stats, why is that a bad thing? I mean, isn’t the point of the game to score? You can’t do that without hitting or getting on base.

      • asimonetti88 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:25 PM

        I guess Ty Cobb compiled his way to 4000 hits. It took him 24 years to get there!

        Hank Aaron compiled 755 home runs. He only got to that number because he stuck around for 23 years!

    • tolbuck - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Funny you never hear that label thrown at Pete Rose. Yet he hung around steroid dealers and was the ultimate compiler.

      • genericcommenter - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:21 PM

        Yeah. As a player-coach he hurt his teams every time he penciled his own name into the lineup. He compiled around 2000 PAs after he was clearly an end of the bench to below replacement level player.

  2. raysfan1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 11:53 AM

    Not to mention it’s highly likely all three managers were quite aware they had players using various PEDs and yet their accomplishments are unquestioned.

    • paperlions - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:26 PM

      Of course they knew. You can’t call them brilliant (not my word choice) in one breath and then act like they were that naive in the next. If people would re-set their context….by the 1980s everyone in the game (including reporters) knew that steroids were common in baseball, but no one cared. There were plenty of stories about steroids in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but they are forgotten because no one cared. That those stories were forgotten doesn’t mean that people didn’t know what was going on, they just didn’t care….until someone that no one liked broke records.

      Heck, people didn’t want to hear about McGwire using andro in 1998, that reported was shamed from every side by fans, players, and his colleagues….it wasn’t until Bonds broke the record that the swell of outrage started to boil….only 30 years after Sports Illustrated did cover stories on steroid use in sports (including baseball).

      • raysfan1 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:07 PM

        Among those who criticized the reporter who dared mention McGwire’s andro was Bud Selig, even though he had reissued Fay Vincent’s wishful thinking drug policy. But, hey, let’s ignore the historical context of what was a pervasive/endemic issue and instead scape goat specific players.

      • paperlions - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:16 PM

        Mmmm, love me some scape goat…not quite as good as venison, but close…nice and lean.

      • sportsfan18 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:43 PM

        Bud’s nothing but gristle.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:37 PM

      I have repeatedly said that, and that Torre and La Russa, especially, surely knew more than they’ve told us.

      That said, beyond roids, in his Cardinals years, how much did La Russa know about the “culture of alcohol” in the clubhouse? Given his own DWI, how much did he contribute to that?

  3. DJ MC - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    Based on what I’ve heard from Kurkjian over the years, I cannot believe he said that. He’s way too smart. I think that was taking his words out of context or something.

    I do think that the inability to get known, accused and suspected PED users into the Hall causing a backlog affecting “legitimate” players and their chances of election is some pretty amusing irony.

  4. lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    I THINK his point is that if the hearings and scrutiny hadn’t put the cheaters into the spotlight and separated them from clean players like Thomas, than the voters would not have made the differentiation themselves and may have painted all star players from the steroid era with a broad brush and not elected anybody.

    I don’t AGREE with that point, but I that’s the only way I can interpret it.

  5. peopletrains - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:23 PM

    All of those guys should be in the hall, Pete Rose should be there too.

  6. peopletrains - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    ‘clean players like Thomas’… How do you know Thomas was clean? In fact, how do you know anyone was/is clean?

    • lukedunphysscienceproject - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:42 PM

      If that was an attempt to reply to my comment without, you know, replying to it, I think you missed my point. I have no idea if Thomas is clean. I was trying to interpret what TK was implying. I thought I was pretty clear that I didn’t agree with that point by typing “I don’t agree with that point”.

  7. crillbill - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:32 PM

    I don’t understand why Thomas gets a pass.

    • jdd428 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:31 PM

      1) Guy was already enormous and never had an outrageous jump in muscle mass (Sosa) or hat size (Bonds).

      2) No player was more outspoken against PED use while he was playing.

      3) The PED users’ outrageous numbers – as they were occurring – diminished attention given to Thomas’ accomplishments (until now), so he was negatively impacted personally.

    • bringin1234 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Pass for what? He was actually recruited as a TE on the Auburn football team and quit playing after hurting his knee and he moved to baseball. On top of that, the steroid stuff started in say 02-03 time frame. Thomas was petitioning for drug testing in baseball as far back as 1995. What made Thomas great wasn’t his 60-80 HRs a season, it was his 30+ HRs while hitting 300 and showing insane patience and plate discipline

  8. mattinglyschmidt - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    “all of whom were active and clean of drug allegations during some of baseball’s darkest days”

    Really? Clean of allegations? How many of LaRussa’s players were at least implicated in the steroids scandal – starting with Canseco and McGwire and working our way down the rabbit hole? Torre had his ARod/Clemens/Pettitte trifecta. (Can’t think of any for Cox right now…)

    • adventuresinfresno - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:46 PM

      Andruw Jones.

    • cohnjusack - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:48 PM

      Can’t think of any for Cox right now

      David Justice, Mike Stanton, John Rocker….that’s just right off the top of my head.

    • bringin1234 - Jul 29, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      Wasn’t Segui a Brave at one point?

      • elpendejo59 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

        Nope, he wasn’t

      • bringin1234 - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        ok well just guessing

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:38 PM


      • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:41 PM

        And Sheff fessed to using, though, like Bonds, he claimed he didn’t know what he was using.

    • jsala02 - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      I was thinking the exact same thing. I wonder if these managers get in if some of the players the managed we not using. Also, the Biggio argument is weak, its not like he went Brady Anderson and had a 50 HR season. Bill James said he was the best player in baseball in the last 90’s, he should have been in 2 years ago!

  9. sabatimus - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:54 PM

    Really, every other article Craig writes qualifies as Steroids Derp.

  10. pete2112 - Jul 29, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    Here we go again… Now we’re going to blame congress for Bonds, etc.for not being in the HOF. Why don’t we blame the players who took them and not make them the victims in all of this as well as not disparaging the players who get into the HOF cleanly.

  11. Chipmaker - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    I recall a long article in the early 1990s — guessing it was in Baseball Weekly, which doesn’t appear to have an online archive, and given the length of the piece, possibly one of Bob Nightengale’s epics — which mentioned that Dennis Eckersley’s “secret” for quick recovery was “anti-inflammatories”. Given longer historical perspective, and that Canseco has clearly alleged that he knows of at least one HOFer who used steroids, I’ve wondered if “anti-inflammatories” was a popular euphemism.

    • SocraticGadfly - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:39 PM

      A Canseco Milkshake followed by an Eckersley Toddy?

  12. genericcommenter - Jul 29, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    I love Craig 1/2 the time. Too bad the anti-reactionary thing isn’t applied consistently.

  13. paul621 - Jul 29, 2014 at 4:46 PM

    “Derp”? Really?

    (Yes, that was my important takeaway from this post)

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