DISCLAIMER: Most of this post is predicated on the idea that Jose Canseco is telling the truth, which is a pretty dicey assumption. I would like to mention that I am not attempting to cast suspicion upon anyone I am about to list, which has a history of getting bloggers in trouble. I’m not accusing anyone of using steroids, really. I’m just saying that out of anyone in Cooperstown, almost by process of elimination, it would have most likely been these people. Once again, this is all merely speculation, and I mean no harm. Also, I talk about Bud Selig for a few hundred words before getting to the list, so be patient.
The recent news about Ortiz and Manny was especially painful for Red Sox fans like me. I am going to attempt to be ignorant and believe that neither were juicing in the curse-breaking year of 2004, but that isn’t really feasible. At least I could look forward to the Sox facing the Orioles 6 out of 10 games, and beating them like a rented mule. (I have a irrational dislike for the O’s, for some reason, even though they are perennially under .500 and Camden Yards is like Fenway South. It might be because they were our bogey team during the first half of the decade. Now… not so much.) But anyway, almost as important as this revelation about Ortiz and the 2004 Sox is the comment that Baseball’s Prophet, Jose Canseco, released in its wake: “When you tell me something I didn’t already know, I’ll be surprised,” Canseco told ESPN. “And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used.”
This is bad bad bad bad bad. If it is there is a steroid user in the HOF, then Bud Selig will have to either remove him, or offer blanket forgiveness for everyone in the steroid era and tell the voters that any sort of substance abuse is forgiven. Either decision will be critiqued viciously by the media. If you thought that he caught flack for calling the All-Star Game a tie… whoo baby. This is why baseball fans will never get a real referendum from Selig on the Steroid Era. Because he is afraid of making a splash, of getting criticized, of leaving his mark on the league, and maybe improving it. Say what you want about Roger Goodell and David Stern being egotistical and overbearing, at least they’re taking risks to try and make their league a better product. I will admit that Selig, in his early years, was a good commissioner. The Wild Card, Interleague Play and Revenue Sharing, are all Selig ideas that are important to today’s game. However, when faced with the biggest crisis in his sport’s history, he shies away from a true decision. One of the last acts of Bud Selig’s term as Commish will be to decide whether he’s going to be remembered like David Stern, or Peter Ueberroth. Who is Peter Ueberroth, you might ask? Exactly.
Anyway, if we take Canseco to be correct, which he has been up to this point, There is a current Hall Of Famer who was on the juice. However, he does not plan on disclosing which HoFer it is, which leaves us, the baseball fans, to wildly speculate. We know that roids have been around since the mid-eighties, at earliest. Canseco started using them when he was on the A’s in the late 80′s. This probably rules out anyone who retired before about 1989. Some could have been using to give themselves a little recovery boost that they couldn’t get naturally, (Andy Pettite), or to keep their old body together in order to reach a milestone, (Rafael Palmeiro). Taking this into account, I think I’ve found the 5 guys most likely, (which is still not that likely) to have done steroids that are currently in the Hall Of Fame.
#5 – Eddie Murray, 1B, HoF 2003
His stats don’t necessarily show any sort of Brady Anderson-esque, his nickname was “Steady Eddie,” after all. I would suspect him merely for a cosmetic reason. I was at Spring Training a couple years ago, when Murray was the hitting coach for the Dodgers. I was a couple feet away from him when I was trying to hawk autographs from Anonymous Minor Leaguer #92 (I didn’t ask Murray because I’d heard he was rather standoffish.) I was struck by how enormous his cranium was. With all the controversy surrounding Barry Bonds’s Incredible Expanding Head a couple years ago, head size became a sign of possible steroid use. Murray basically has a watermelon sitting on top of his shoulders. As for stats, He had a couple of dramatic leaps it OPS late in his career, but it was probably a coincidence. But who knows? Maybe the source of it this tiny fluctuation was something much more nefarious.
#4 – Nolan Ryan, P, HoF 1999
Nolan Ryan. One of the greatest pitchers of all time. He also has spoken about the Steroid Era in baseball many times. Doth he protest too much? Perhaps. Remember, Nolan Ryan threw a no-hitter at 44. He aged better than Christie Brinkley. She’s 55? WHAT? But she’s hot! That’s impossible! Justine Bateman’s 43 and she already looks a little bit like the crypt-keeper. Then again, being on the SAG board can do that to people. I mean, look at Charlton Heston. Back on topic. Nolan Ryan’s reverse bell curve trend in his strikeouts and Roid-Ragey beatdown of Robin Ventura could indicate that there was some augmentation. According to Baseball-Reference.com, the Pitcher that has had the 7th most similar career to him in baseball history is suspected PED user Roger Clemens. Hmm…
#3 – Cal Ripken Jr., SS/3B, HoF 2007
I know, I know. Ripken is far too honorable, too genuine, too saintly to take Roids. He is Baltimore’s Messiah, the greatest player that Fenway South has ever seen. All I have to say is that it takes something extraordinary to play over 2000 games without one off. Ripken even spent much of it at shortstop, one of the harshest positions on the field. One of the key benefits of using steroids is that one recovers from injuries faster, which would help him a lot to recover from the nagging injuries from takeout slides and HBPs that would derail lesser men.
#2 – Brooks Robinson, 3B, HoF 1983
Just kidding. I wanted to antagonize O’s fans just a little more. I might feel a little less prickly if they didn’t keep insisting that Fenway South is a better ballpark than Baseball’s Mecca.
#2 (For Real) – Kirby Puckett, OF, HoF 2001
According to Bill James, arguably baseball’s most respected statistician/historian, there were statistical fluctuations that were consistent with using steroids. His mysterious death in 2006 does not do much to convince otherwise, as steroids supposedly destroy the body. Of course, he got pretty zaftig as the years wore on, and it may have been because of that. However, I tend to believe most of what Bill James says, and Canseco might be enough of a prick to implicate a dead guy. Its a distinct possibility, if slightly disturbing.
#1 – Rickey Henderson, OF, HoF 2009
Yes. The Man of Steal. Although I never really saw him in his prime, he is one of my favorite players ever, and the greatest leadoff hitter who ever lived, although Ichiro might beg to differ. It seems like he would fit the most, and that Canseco would actually know of his doings. Henderson and Canseco both played on the A’s during the late 80′s, when Canseco was using, he could have introduced Rickey to it, and he would have known whether Rickey used it or not. Henderson had some pretty wild fluctuation in steals and BA later in his career, as well as surprising longevity for a guy whose ability hinged on speed. Also, if there had been another HoFer that used, don’t you think that Canseco would have mentioned something about it already? He probably didn’t just happen to save thenews until after Henderson’s induction. It pains me to say it, but of any current Baseball Hall of Famer, Rickey Henderson seems to be the most likely to have used steroids.
From now on, as an homage to Mark Titus, Athlete/Blogger extraordinaire, I will end my posts with great sports related YouTube clips. This link leads you to perhaps the hardest hit in the history of football.