IMG: USA Today Sports

“Only God knows” said HOFer Ivan Rodriguez, when prompted about his own possible PED usage prior to being eligible for the HOF. Not exactly the words of an innocent man and yet, he was elected first ballot to the Hall that has trouble electing players who have used or who have been suspected of using (see Bonds, Barry or Clemens, Roger or Ramirez, Manny). Ask Gary Sheffield, whose involvement with BALCO and whose name was mentioned in the infamous Mitchell report has prevented his own induction despite the numbers indicating that he was at least as good as, if not better than another first ballot HOFer, Vladimir Guerrero. Or better yet, ask now HOFer Mike Piazza, who not only has never failed a drug test, nor been mentioned on any steroid-alleging report, but failed to make the HOF on the first ballot despite being the greatest hitting catcher of all time- simply because there were mere whispers about potential usage… based only on muscularity and great numbers.

But this story isn’t just about the HOF. Its about baseball as a whole. Players who use PEDs are mostly¬†shunned by fans and teams alike, but some are welcomed back with open arms, or their PED usage is ignored completely. Others are condemned worse than players who have been suspended for domestic violence.

Take Bartolo Colon, for example. Colon is beloved by fans of all teams for his cheery demeanor, seemingly un-athletic body and is popularized and hailed as a gem by Major League Baseball itself. Yet… he was suspended in 2012 by MLB for testosterone. This wasn’t a masking agent, a diuretic, marijuana or anything that can be manipulated into saying “well, it wasn’t a suspension for PEDs”. Long after Colon’s suspension, he is revered and popularized by MLB as though nothing happened.

Or we can go even further. Say what you want about Sammy Sosa- he doesn’t deserve the HOF based on numbers, he does- it simply doesn’t matter. But he has been shunned from the Cubs since his departure in 2004, despite stating himself that he would like to come back. Owner Tom Ricketts wants Sosa to apologize (despite never testing positive, nor admitting to PED usage in any form), but seemingly had no problem benefiting from Sosa’s gameplay when he was a Cub. Owner Tom Ricketts has no problem, however, with domestic violence, having traded for Aroldis Chapman to help win a World Series, despite Chapman only apologizing for using a gun and not for the incident itself. No mention needed of current Cubs shortstop, Addison Russell, whose apology left much to be desired from many fans.

Alex Rodriguez has become the poster child for this issue. Rodriguez received a massive suspension from MLB, vehemently denied any allegations against him, SUED Bud Selig and Major League Baseball before dropping his case and admitting wrong-doing (and then refused to pay his lawyers, in which HE was sued for). Rodriguez was so looked upon by then Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who refused to play A-Rod at 3rd base for his last game citing his job as manager was to win the game- despite playing fellow Yankee Mark Teixeira all game at first base, who was having just as poor a season as Rodriguez yet received considerably more playing time. Or playing beloved Yankee Derek Jeter at SS and hitting him 2nd all season in 2014, despite Jeters poor performance at the plate and in the field. A-Rod left the playing field a disgrace to the game- a liar, a cheat, a shell who would’ve previously been shunned into the black hole like many before him. Yet- Major League Baseball, ESPN, FOX and any numbers of teams seemingly have no issue with A-Rod’s presence in the booth. Rodriguez was hired almost immediately to give commentary on games, and has since expanded his role and even recently was seen at the Mets Spring Training complex with GM Brodie Van Wagenan. If you’re charismatic enough and smile often, apparently all is forgiven, even when you go after the very sport that made you.

Or take Mark McGwire, the other end of the homerun chase that included Sammy Sosa. McGwire came “clean” in 2010, admitting steroid use but pulling the now infamous “I used them to recover from injury” nonsense frequently by players such as Andy Pettitte, and then accepting an offer to become the Cardinals hitting coach- and subsequently has been a coach in MLB until this season. McGwire further distanced himself from PED usage early in the 2018 season, saying he didn’t need them, and that they didn’t help him preform or for strength purposes. These statements are of course utter nonsense, and McGwire’s “coming clean” is lifeless.

The rant that I could go on on this topic could wind up being many times the size of this current article. The purpose is mostly to bring about awareness of the hypocrisy that has come about, stemming from Major League Baseball, down to the teams and the networks that broadcast the games. Condemning PEDs? Got it. But condemning only some of the players, some of the times, when it seems like a buck can be made? Come on. You’re better than this.

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