Recently I've read a number of articles concerning the election of players into the HOF, and how the voters view those who played in the Steroid Era, and more importantly, those who used. In Ken Burns' documentary The Tenth Inning, Tom Boswell drops a bomb that a current player in the Hall of Fame was drinking a "Jose Conseco milkshake" in the late 1980s. Without delving into too far (other blogs handle this more adeptly than I), this means:
1. JC milkshake = steroids
2. the "rule" that players who used/suspected of using not being allowed in the Hall of Fame is sort of shutting the barn door after the animals have fled.
I'll put in my two cents here...not that it matters (I don't have a vote).
1. I believe that a certain player who spent time with Oakland is the most likely candidate that Boswell is talking about. This isn't the first time I've heard a player currently in the HOF did steroids, and it isn't the first time I've heard this player suspected of doing steroids.
2. If I were a voter, here's how I would handle the situation. It's not right; not wrong, but I haven't heard this variation before: I would try to ascertain how a player's career may have been altered due to steroids, and judge if they were good enough to make it without the use of PEDs. Impossible to do? Not necessarily. I'll give a few examples:
*Barry Bonds - the man was a HOFer well before he is accused of doing steroids. The average player peaks between the ages of 28-32, Barry's four best seasons happened after he turned 36. Never done in the history of the game. As a result, it became a question of whether he was the greatest of all-time. Take it away, and he's still one of the best power-speed combination players in the history of the game.
*Mark McGwire - there are valid reasons to assume he began using early in his career, though his brother among others suggest he began using in an effort to cope with the injuries. What can not be denied is his offensive explosion in his 30s. Without the use of steroids? He had a career .263 average, and hit a ton of HRs. What do his numbers look like without it? I suggest he might be a rich man's Dave Kingman...and that (IMO) is not good enough.
*Roger Clemens - I'm taking Bill Simmons' word for it here, and maybe I shouldn't, but in one of his articles Bill suggested that 29 baseball GMs thought The Rocket was washed up leaving Boston. He did lead the league in strikeouts his last year in Boston...but Clemens went on to have two great years in Toronto, and another ten years (including two in Houston in his 40s that don't fall in line with a typical player. I find it hard to believe that Clemens didn't start his use after he left Boston, and would not vote him in on the first ballot.
*A-Rod - HOFer, with or without the use.
*Rafael Palmeiro - there were rumors of steroid use by Rafael while he was in college, and if one were to look at a player similar to him, one has to go no further than Will Clark. They were in college at the same time, switched teams, and were similar offensive players. Clark faded at a normal rate. If Clark isn't in, neither (in my book) is Palmeiro.
Just a thought.