Big Papi raises big questions
Posted July 30, 2009
Updated July 31, 2009
The not-so-surprising-in-this-era news that David Ortiz may have used performance-enhancing drugs brings a number of issues to mind. But for a sport that values its history as much as baseball, the historical implications are staggering.
The general line of thinking has been that David Ortiz is a "stand-up guy." So, if he cheated, who didn't? We've reached a point now in which just about every successful player in baseball will be regarded with at least some degree of suspicion.
At this rate, you have to wonder if one of these days the Baseball Hall of Fame will have to put up a sign stating "No Longer Accepting New Memberships."
Take the case of Mark McGwire. By the numbers, McGwire's was a Hall of Fame career. But after rejecting McGwire on their Hall of Fame ballots for three years now, the baseball writers have sent a clear message that: 1) They believe McGwire took steroids and, 2) They believe that using steroids should preclude one's election to the Hall.
McGwire retired before baseball began testing for steroids, so there may never be concrete proof of what he did or didn't do to hit all of those home runs.
But consider this: If McGwire's not even sniffing the Hall of Fame right now (and after receiving only 21.9% of the necessary 75% of the voting this year, he's not), then what happens when those players that actually have been caught using steroids become eligible?
Here's my solution: Put 'em all in. At some point, we can't ignore that guys like McGwire, Bonds, Sosa, Clemens, A-Rod, Man-Ram, Ortiz, etc... existed. It's pretty clear now that we were watching juiced-up hitters facing juiced-up pitchers for more than a decade.
But for every Hall of Fame player that tested positive for steroids, I'd require their Hall of Fame plaques include a line about that.
Etch it in stone, so to speak.
For that matter, I also think it's time for Pete Rose to find his way into the Hall. And apparently, none other than Hank Aaron agrees with me. I'd put a line about Rose's gambling on his monument, too.
At some point, the Hall of Fame is about acknowledging baseball's history. And not all of that history has been good. But, we can't ignore it.