Steroids Era to consume Hall voters

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“The numbers were there. I guess you still have to determine were those totals reached fairly,” O'Connell said of the Steroids Era players in general. “I think what’s complicating it more now is, at one time we thought it was just a small percentage. Now it’s beginning to look like the small percentage were the people that weren’t dosing on something. So maybe the playing field was a lot more level than we thought.”

Larkin, who will be inducted on July 22 along with the late Ron Santo, was never accused of PED use. Asked whether he was tempted, he responded: “No. No. No.”

Playing through the time when steroids use peaked and testing with penalties was put in place for his final season in 2004, he noticed what was going on around him.

“Certainly there were instances where there were a couple guys that I went _ what in the world is this guy doing?” he said, widening his eyes. “There were a couple instances that I know where guys came to me and talked to me about kind of the situations they were in and things they had to do in order to feed their families.”

When he thinks about what he called the “Juiced Era,” he considers the pitchers that were throwing to him, not the other hitters.

“How about those guys that it wasn’t so obvious, that were able to hang onto that slider just that much longer and make that ball break, so instead of hitting the ball off the sweet spot, I missed the sweet spot by that much?” he said. “That’s the finiteness of the difference between being successful and not being successful.”

With all the focus on steroids, Jack Morris could be next year’s big beneficiary. He increased his total to 67 percent from 54 percent last year and has two more tries on the ballot before reaching the maximum 15. The vote won’t be all about steroids.

“He could be an alternative for people next year that might not want to vote for Clemens,” O'Connell said. “I think Morris has every reason to be encouraged.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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