Friday, November 6, 2009

Performance Enhancers or Not?

Zev Chafets had a piece in ESPN magazine that listed some familiar players and their choice of enhancers.

Says Chafets... I found that the Hall, like any shrine, is full of secrets. Here's the worst-kept one: Not every immortal is a gentleman.

Some surely were. But Tris Speaker and Rogers Hornsby, both of whom belonged to the Klan? Probably not. How about Hank Greenberg and Joe DiMaggio, with their serious mob connections? Ty Cobb bragged of committing a murder and was suspected of fixing at least one game. Grover Cleveland Alexander pitched drunk when alcohol was a federally banned substance.

Between the lines, old-timers were happy to use any substance they thought would give them an edge. In 1889, pitcher Pud Galvin drank monkey testoserone. Mickey Mantle was forced out of part of the 1961 pennant race by an infection he got from the needle of a quack doctor who shot him up with a concoction of steroids and amphetamine. Sandy Koufax took so many nonanabolic steroids for his sore arm that he was sometimes "half high" on the field. Even Hank Aaron admitted to taking amphetamines once during a game. All of them are in Cooperstown-and the walls haven't crumbled.

Remember, it took a player, Jose Canseco, to spill the beans about widespread steroid use. Now, though, the writers have found religion. With the zeal of the newly converted, they voted by a 3 to 1 margin to keep Mark McGwire out of the Hall.

The Hall can't just exclude two generations of superstars. And if the writers don't like this, well, they need to be reminded that they serve as Cooperstown's electoral college at the pleasure of the Hall's controllers- a nonprofit organization, not MLB- and they can be replaced.

There are plenty of potential voters awaiting their chance...Those less bound to the false pieties those writers have perpetuated over the years.

The Cooperstown museum will include a chapter on steroids as a part of baseball's narrative, just as it includes the chapters on the Negro Leagues and how equipment evolved.

And in the plaque gallery, Manny(Ramirez) and Barry (Bonds), A-Rod and (Roger) Clemens will hang next to the greats of other eras, right where they belong. They earned their spots the old-fashioned way-by doing what was necessary to stand above their peers.

(Zev Chafets is the author of Cooperstown Confidential: Heroes, Rogues and the Inside Sortory of the Baseball Hall of Fame. I know I will find a way to get a hold of a copy. This is good stuff!)
This was all Zev, all I did was retype and edit.

Kevin Marquez