Red Sox legends may miss the HOF due to PED’s
It’s Hall of Fame season, Red Sox Nation, and that means we get to have that always fun conversation about performance-enhancing drugs. With every ballot and every voting cycle, we have to revisit the possible cycles taken by players during their careers. This year a new addition to the ballot, David Ortiz, reinvigorates the argument with a new twist.
Big Papi should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and he very well could be. He’s one of those that has had plenty of whispers surrounding his stats while in Boston despite never actually failing a test. Yeah, yeah, go ahead and bring up the test from 2003, you know, the one that even MLB officials deemed inconsequential. Other than that, it’s been all rumor and innuendo.
Other Red Sox legends have a different shadow following them as Roger Clemens and Manny Ramirez are more than linked to the usage of PED’s. This is ‘The Rockets’ final year on the ballot and it feels like he’ll once again get iced out by the stingy voters of the BBWAA. For Manny, I’d be surprised if he makes his way to Cooperstown as he feels like he’s in the same ballpark as Alex Rodriguez. They knew they were getting tested and they still went about and did it.
I’m not arguing for or against the usage of performance-enhancing drugs but more so how we treat those that are linked to the action. If players are busted now, they’re handcuffed with massive suspensions, and rightfully so. We now live in an era where PED’s are banned and the league has cracked down as much as they possibly could.
But that’s now, the three guys I mentioned above played in a time when that wasn’t the case. Sure the league frowned on cheating but they sure didn’t frown on the ratings the Mark McGwire/Sammy Sosa home run battle drew. And they sure didn’t lose sleep over television channels pausing shows to go to live feeds of Barry Bonds as he was working toward setting his own record. Real interesting how that all seems to work out.
And then there’s the fact that the league continues to be one of the sketchiest outfits in all of professional sports. I don’t want to get too into the weeds in regards to the whole ball situation that became known recently but it sure puts another dark mark on MLB. But we have a body of people that get to decide on whether or not players are enshrined forever and they sure seem to put all of their focus on performance enhancers and nothing else.
How can we punish and judge players for doing something when the league was clearly and willingly looking the other way in order to soak up the ratings? So we should ignore everything these guys did just because they walked through a door that MLB themselves left open? I don’t condone cheating but I also can’t blame someone for eating the cookies I just baked if I leave them unattended on the table.
In Ortiz’s final season, he led the American League in RBI (127) and ALL OF BASEBALL in doubles (48), SLG (.620), and OPS (1.021). He’s a three-time World Series Champion, a World Series MVP, ALCS MVP, seven-time Silver Slugger, and ten-time All-Star. Last I checked, that’s some Hall of Fame worthy stuff. He was the heart and soul of the Red Sox during Boston’s darkest days, a true legend.
Clemens is a two-time world champion, an MVP, Player of the Year, seven-time Cy Young, seven-time ERA champ, 11-time All-Star, and a two-time Triple Crown winner. Yeah, we all know about his past and those pesky B-12 shots, but that resume would earn anyone else their spot in Cooperstown, and it should for Roger as well. Anyone who saw The Rocket pitch for the Red Sox had to stop what they were doing because you had a chance at seeing history.
As I said before, Manny is in some different waters compared to Papi and Rocket but to ignore his accomplishments before he started flunking tests is disrespectful. A 12-time All-Star, a nine-time Silver Slugger, two World Series rings, a World Series MVP and a batting title all follow his name. If he didn’t have the downfall that he did, he would’ve been first ballot, but he should be higher on people’s ballots than he is.
It may sound like I’m condoning players injecting God knows what into their bodies in order to be better than the next guy in the lineup, but I’m not. I simply can’t get behind a mindset that these guys should be blackballed for doing something during a time when the league wasn’t so stern about putting a stop to it. I just can’t punish someone for doing something when it was the league that made it so easy to achieve. Again, I can’t get mad at you for eating my cookies if I left them out and unattended.