Posted Under: Johanna's View
Let’s be clear. Major League Baseball has worked very hard to straddle the middle ground on the long-term punishments for players who used performance enhancing drugs prior to their official ban and testing that began in 2004. They have given very little guidance to the writers who need to vote, leaving it unclear, particularly after this year’s elections, who might get in and who might not.
And while I think I am pretty soft on those pre-ban steroid users, I am not so easy going about those that made a conscious choice to use a banned substance after the rule was more clearly defined. After all, before the ban, MLB behaved in such a way as to nearly condone the behavior. The let any discussion of the drug testing drop in the 1998 collective bargaining agreement, they celebrated (and raked in the cash from) the home run, which was clearly being created by some substance, and the Player’s Union- which is a separate entitiy- even gave player’s advice on how to use or not get caught using PED’s.
Also pre-2000, there were a lot of drugs that were considered supplements and were unregulated by the FDA which after 2000 were reclassified as steroids. You could buy things at your GNC in 1998 that you could not just a couple of years later. And most of those things are now on the banned substance list. So for me, the use of some substances up until 2002, maybe even 2004 is a grey area. After all, in 1969 MLB lowered the pitching mound to create more offense, in 1973 they created a DH to create more offense, teams began bringing in fences to create more offense. Making better athletes was an extension of that- until it began affecting the health of our kids. And that is when the government and MLB decided it was a problem.
As a country, we didn’t have control over steroids in the 1990’s. Now, we understand them so much more, and now we have rules about them in place.
So why am I writing this today?
Because it is being reported by the New York Daily News investigative team that the Feds are investigating an associate of Alex Rodriguez. And while Rodriguez has not been implicated in any way at this time, I think the idea that this is the 2nd guy who he recently has associated with to come under investigation is curious. And I think that sealed my opinion about the Hall of Fame. If you used Performance Enhancing Drugs prior to the 2004 MLB ban, and your credentials put you in the upper echelon of the player’s in history then you probably should be allowed into the Hall eventually.
If you were caught using it afterward- if it was proven that you are guilty- then you shouldn’t sniff the Hall. There is no gray area any longer. There is no excuse. The culture has changed. The rules have been clarified. And while MLB must negotiate with the player’s union any formal punishments, the writer’s do not.
Alex Rodriguez may be one of the greatest baseball players I will ever see play. If he used steroids in any year after the formal ban, then he should not get into the Hall of Fame. Simple as that.
Now of course, we may never know for sure. Some skell may try to say that yes he gave some PED’s to Rodriguez, without any proof. We, as the public, will have the choices to believe the person we want to believe. And yes, Rodriguez has the money to go to extreme lengths to hide what he is doing. But that doesn’t make him guilty.
But let me be clear, if anyone is proven to be guilty of using steroids, they shouldn’t sniff the Hall of Fame, and the baseball writer’s should make that a formal policy.