None of us are perfect. We judge others, yet we know that doing so is wrong. In doing so, we fail to practice what we preach because, as a society, it is generally accepted in the arena of being politically correct that you should never judge others. In addition, judging others is frowned upon in the Bible, too.
With that being said, I am about to write an article where another person is judged by circumstantial evidence and not only the facts. I could be wronging another, even though I don’t think I am, and in doing so gives me an uneasy feeling.
We have all been wronged by others, even though we were in the right, and it’s left a bad taste in our mouth. At the same time, the older we get, the more we learn from our experiences to make a better judgment of topics we can’t prove, although there’s no way we could ever expect to be right 100% of the time.
What does this have to do with baseball?
The Baseball Hall of Fame will be announcing its newest members this upcoming Tuesday and there are many statistically great players who are worthy of Induction. However, many of these players played during an era in which too many frauds and cheaters ruled the league and after names like Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, and Palmero, it gets tough to draw the line as to who was clean and who wasn’t and, therefore, we become judgmental as to who did or did not use PEDs.
When I look at the numbers of a player like Jeff Bagwell, I see one deserving of the Hall of Fame, although he would never receive my vote. He played in an era where offensive statistics went through the roof and much of this was fueled by players who used PEDs. The circumstantial evidence against Bagwell, and most players of that era, isn’t good.
If I think back to my twenties and had been told that taking these PEDs would greatly increase my chances of reaching a specific goal (such as playing professional baseball), I would have probably taken advantage of the situation, especially if I was competing against others who were using them (and putting me at a clear disadvantage). The ante would have been especially upped if tens of millions of dollars on your next contract would be at stake, as it was for so many players.
The biggest red flag I have with Bagwell concerns his body. Before the steroids era, you didn’t see many player bodies like you did with guys like himself, Juan Gonzalez, Jose Canseco, Sammy Sosa, etc. When you see pictures of greats like Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle and hear the stories of how naturally “ripped” they were for their time these icons would pale in comparison to what we saw of player bodies during the steroids era. Sure, players didn’t train in their eras like they do today, but Gehrig and Mantle would still be ripped for baseball today (even though the players of today workout extremely hard), it’s just that Gehrig and Mantle wouldn’t have fit in as much during the steroids era in terms of being ripped. Unfortunately, the reason why is obvious.
During the steroids era there were way too many people who seemed to have lethal injections of illegal substances bulging from their neck, arms, thighs, etc. Now that baseball has finally cracked down on the use of PEDs you no longer see those grossly bulging bodies. If Bagwell had played today, I doubt you’d see him as ripped either. Players have become much more normal looking again even if you still get a freak of nature every once in awhile (see Stanton, Giancarlo).
During the Watergate investigation, Senator Howard Baker wanted to know what Nixon knew and when he knew if it. It’s the same today in our interpretation of who took steroids.
It’s hard to believe all of the players since all of them claim their innocence, yet we all know many were using PEDs, just as it was hard to believe Nixon when all the evidence was mounting against him. Many times educated judgements usually end up being right.
Some players of the steroids era are eligible for the Hall of Fame and this presents an unenviable dilemma to voters more and more by the year. Instead of trying to figure out who did what, wouldn’t it be nice to take a break from judging who we think did what and simply put in a man of impeckable character such as Dale Murphy into the Hall of Fame?
America and the Hall of Fame needs more role models in the spotlight and although the BWWAA failed in their test to elect “Murph,” the Veterans Committee has a chance to right a wrong this upcoming December (for a July 2016 Induction) by voting in arguably the greatest player of the 1980s. Lets hope they get it right.
It will be interesting to see who the BWWAA have chosen to believe when the offical Baseball Hall of Fame announcement is made on Tuesday and the class of 2015 is released but the Hall of Fame won’t be complete, in my opinion, until Dale Murphy has been inducted in Cooperstown, too.
*To read our full account of over 10,000 words as to why Murphy should be in the Hall of Fame, please read here.