Still, Gwynn said he was “shocked” when former teammate Caminiti admitted to using steroids. Surely we would be shocked, too, if certain players came clean and confessed. But unless baseball (foolishly) alters statistics or eligibility requirements, voters should stick to the numbers.
And spare me any arguments about “cheating,” unless you’re willing to include all of baseball’s illegal substances.
Yes, I’m talking about amphetamines, performance-enhancing drugs that inexplicably avoid the same scrutiny.
Using them without a prescription is against federal law, yet players popped the pick-me-ups like sunflower seeds until 2006, when baseball banned amphetamines. I hate to keep using Ripken in this instance, but since “Ironman” played in 2,632 consecutive games at a time when 80 percent of his peers regularly used the so-called “greenies” to endure the six-month grind well, you see how issues of “integrity” and “character” can get messy.
Clemens, Bonds, Sosa and McGwire played leading roles in the Steroid Era, but keeping them out of Cooperstown won’t rewrite the history book. We don’t know exactly who did what, just that a lot of players did something.
Whether they’re admitted users, suspected users or thought to be non-users, the players’ statistics are posted in black-and-white.
There’s no need to add shades of gray when so much coloring occurred outside the lines.
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Deron Snyder is an award-winning journalist and Washington Times sports columnist with more than 25 years of experience. He has worked at USA Today and his column was syndicated in Gannett’ 80-plus newspapers from 2000-2009, appearing in The Arizona Republic, The Indianapolis Star, The Detroit News and many others. Follow Deron on Twitter @Its_Ball_Good or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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