Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez. Three gifted players thought to be locks for baseball’s Hall of Fame have been accused of taking steroids or performance enhancing drugs.
On Monday, after word leaked out about a 2003 positive test, Rodriguez, the New York Yankees third baseman, admitted that he used steroids for a three-year stretch from 2001-2003. Rodriguez hit 156 home runs during that period, including 57 in 2002, the most he’s ever hit in one season.
Roger Clemens, a seven-time Cy Young Award winner, is being investigated by a federal grand jury on allegations he lied to Congress when he denied using performance-enhancing drugs. His trainer alleges that he injected Clemens a dozen times with steroids and human growth hormone during the 1998-2001 seasons. During that span, Clemens won 67 games and lost 27. He won 20 games twice. In 1998, he was 20-6 with Toronto, and in 2001 he had a 20-3 won-loss record with the Yankees.
Barry Bonds, who set the all-time home run record, is scheduled to stand trial next month on charges of lying to a grand jury about using steroids. Bonds’s best seasons were from 2001 through 2004, between the ages of 36 through 39. Bonds hit 49 homeruns during the 2000 season. In 2001, while allegedly taking steroids, he hit 73 to break Mark McGuire’s also tainted single season record of 70.
More chips continue to fall in this ever-widening scandal. Today, former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to federal charges that he lied to congressional investigators about the use of performance-enhancing drugs in baseball. Tejada, the 2002 American League MVP who now plays for the Houston Astros, faces up to a year in prison at a sentencing hearing set for March 26. 103 other players supposedly tested positive in 2003 but have not been identified.
One could certainly make a case that Bonds, Clemens and Rodriguez are tremendously talented players even without drugs. Arguably, Rodriguez’s best season was in 2007 when he drove in 156 runs, hit 54 homers, batted .314 and had a .422 on base percentage with the Yankees. Unless proven otherwise, he wasn’t taking steroids then.
Steroid use in baseball was not declared illegal until the 2005 season. Still, I think some key questions need to be asked and answered. Should statistics or records count in seasons when players admittedly took steroids or other performance enhancing drugs? If Roger Clemens’ 67 wins were taken away during the three seasons he’s accused of using steroids, he would no longer be a 300 game winner, a real milestone in baseball and a sure ticket to the Hall of Fame. Barry Bonds hit 208 homeruns during his alleged steroid use seasons of 2001-2004. Take those homeruns away from his 762-lifetime total and he no longer surpasses Hank Aaron’s or Babe Ruth’s totals.
Should baseball retroactively take away the MVP, CY Young and Gold Glove awards from any player who confesses to, or is proven to, have taken steroids? And finally, should any of these or other obviously gifted players be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame?
What do you think?