I woke up this morning and tuned into Mike and Mike on ESPN as I do most mornings. Greenie was reading off the names of this year’s Hall of Fame class and discussing how many of them have been in one way or another linked to steroids. Of the names that he read off, the only two that have not been exclusively linked to steroids were Mike Piazza and Craig Biggio. They went on to say that it appears that no one in the class is going to make it in this year and that mostly had to do with the “steroid era”. The part that really got to me this morning was when Buster Olney joined the broadcast to clarify why Mike Piazza wasn’t getting the votes that he should have gotten. Buster said that there are writers who “believe” he took steroids even though he was NEVER linked to BALCO or any other steroid pusher. Basically, Piazza was being judged on the “suspicion” that he took steroids because he played in the “steroid era”. That pushed me over the edge this morning.
Just to add a bit of full disclosure here, Mike Piazza is my favorite player. I know fans usually pick a player from the ’80s teams or the ’69 Met team as their favorite and that’s cool. I can remember being a kid and going to Shea to root for Mike Piazza and then running the bases after the game. I still remember trying to emulate his swing and to this day I am still wondering how he managed to hit as many home runs as he did with that stance. Piazza is the best player that I saw and rooted for growing up, and that to me makes him my favorite player. I’m not big into the whole Hall of Fame deal and never have been but the fact that guy’s candidacy is now being judged by even the faintest whispers of steroid use is appalling. Is this the final fallout of the steroid era, a witch hunt that can eliminate a player’s chances of making the Hall of Fame? Derek Jeter was suggested as another player who might have taken steroids a few months back and he just brushed it off as nonsense; is he not making the Hall of Fame because of that suspicion?
Look, I realize that the BBWAA takes their jobs very seriously and puts a lot of thought into Hall of Fame inductees. If their stance is that no steroid user should be allowed to get in, I can respect that (even though I disagree). What I cannot respect is to jump from that to using the “eye test” to say a guy “looks” like he used steroids. The cases of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa have been heavily documented . There has been NO documentation regarding Mike Piazza and steroid use. I mean, what’s going to happen when Albert Pujols or Roy Halladay are up for nomination to the Hall of Fame? Are they not going to get in because of some whispers of steroid use? I guess this answers the question regarding the true impact of the steroid era in baseball. In my opinion, just assume that EVERYONE was using steroids because at the end of it, you just don’t know who did or didn’t. If you were STILL able to be dominant in your era of play at your position, then you deserve to be in the Hall. There is no question that Mike Piazza was the most offensively dominating catcher of his era, a dominance I am honored to have seen with my own two eyes.