Ponder this for a second: Tim Raines, a central figure in baseball’s cocaine scandal in the mid-1980s, has just been elected into the Hall of Fame with two other players — and Raines is the inductee who is free of controversy.
This is the sort of seems-like-an-alternative-universe that the Hall of Fame voting and our view of recent baseball history has become.
Rodriguez was named as a ‘roids guy by one of the all-time ‘roids guys, Jose Canseco. If there was a ‘roids Hall of Fame, or rather a ‘roids-only Hall of Fame, Canseco would the first guy inducted.
In his ground-breaking tell-all book “Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits & How Baseball Got Big,” Canseco wrote that he personally injected Rodriguez with steroids. Rodriguez denied that, essentially calling Canseco a liar.
If I am interpreting his twitter feed from Jan. 17 and 18th correctly, Canseco has no problem with Rodriguez being elected. But he does have a big problem with Jeff Bagwell being elected.
Bagwell also has denied ever using steroids. And no former teammate has ever written in a book that he injected him. But Bagwell was a muscular guy who played in the PED era. There have been whispers. And Jose is certain.
As with anyone who writes anything more public than a letter, Canseco became quite the scold after his book came out in 2005.
And he is really laying into the the Hall of Fame and the voters.
Canseco’s argument, and he is not alone in this, is that when so many people were cheating, that no one should be judged on much has come out about their PED use.
It seems Canseco has much keener sense for detecting hypocrisy than for detecting absurdity or irony.
Here is a guy whose professional success was built on a lie and who made a documentary “The Truth Hurts.”
Here is a guy who should have been the first red flag of the steroids era. … Well actually, he was.
In 1988, Canseco, who had just turned 24, was finishing up a historic season with the Oakland A’s, becoming the first player in major league history to hit 40 or more homers in and steal 40 or more bases in the same season. He had been a 15th round draft choice six years earlier.
Thomas Boswell, the baseball columnist for the Washington Post, was on a guest on a late-night news talk show on CBS, and Boswell called Canseco, “the most conspicuous example of a player who has made himself great with steroids.”
A week later, Canseco denied the allegation on national TV. (Don’t let the title of video below fool you. He denied it.)
That a 15th-round draft choice was performing feats that no one else had accomplished did not go unnoticed by other players. You can’t blame the whole steroids craze on one guy, but with his success, he was a huge catalyst.
And then, he wound up being the person, who more than any one person, brought about testing for PEDs.
After years of players holding vows of secrecy — even players who complained about other players taking steroids would never publicly name players who were users — Conseco went public with accusations.
His book led to Congressional hearings and government pressure for baseball to clean up of its act. The owners and union got together and came up with PED testing, which they have since improved.
We believe the game is cleaner than it was.
And lying, cheating Jose Conseco showed us the path.
Scold away, Jose. It makes our alternative universe better.