Generally when the topic of steroid use in baseball comes up on a sports talk show, it’s an invitation to begin eye-rolling.
It’s a noble effort for baseball to regulate what could otherwise be a wild arms race of experimentation in performance supplements in their sport, but the mass effort to extract a penance from the “steroid era” of players is so uneven and lacking in any kind of due process, that it is more of a forum to play favorites while slandering others than any earnest attempt to make things “right.”
I mean, what’s more infuriating, that Jeff Bagwell’s Hall of Fame candidacy is submarined purely by association with an unfavorable era where everyone is apparently a suspect, or the mass dismissal of “steroid-fueled” accomplishments that fails to recognize that a player such as Bagwell, was still 49% better than the average hitter for his career despite playing when everyone was allegedly a super-mutant?
Always eager to step into the fray is Frank Thomas. If Frank ever used steroids, he’s the best bluffer alive, because he’s been railing against the stuff and demanding testing and more rigorous punishment since the mid-90’s. Keenly aware of his legacy, Thomas sees an era where offensive production exploded alongside the usage of performance-enhancing supplements the he abstained from, and can’t help but think that he was screwed out of greater recognition for his transcendent work. He clearly still seethes from his 2nd place finish in the 2000 AL MVP vote to admitted-juicer Jason Giambi, and now sees a compatriot in Matt Kemp, who just lost the NL MVP vote to Ryan Braun.
Frank’s just as easy at it gets when it comes to examples to point to for those who want to justify the active purging of all the suspicious characters, a true great wronged by the crimes that failed to be prosecuted.
But looking at baseball in late 80’s and the 90’s with the need to settle a grudge isn’t a particularly helpful approach when trying to rationalize the era, or appreciate and honor its exceptional players. Hell, the very same scorched-Earth policy that Frank advocates will probably turn up misguided suspicions of his own career when it’s time to consider his Hall of Fame candidacy, and it will be based on the same weak circumstantial crap about “increase in body mass over his career” or “unnatural aging curve” that others are being taken down with.
And yet, I can’t help but appreciate Thomas’ steadfastness. As much as I feel that a player being a steroid user at the height of the era of supplementation without regulation shouldn’t be an instant disavowal of their accomplishments, it’s awfully nice and convenient to never have to make that rationalization about Thomas and his career. I’d much rather stand in awe of it, and it’s twinkling superlativeness, than reason through what percentage of its merits are retained when placing it in the context of its era. Having Frank to cling to as a White Sox fan probably makes dealing with this all of this a lot easier, and listening to him be an unforgiving stickler on the issue seems like a fair trade.
– OH THANK GOD A TRADE RUMOR: The Blue Jays are said to be perusing the trade market again in the wake of losing out on the Yu Darvish, which includes ringing up their old friend Kenny Williams about Quentin and Danks. I think I’ve gotten over my fear of Williams going head-to-head with Alex Anthopoulos. First, it’s good just that someone is calling, but also the Blue Jays have an excellent system that Assistant to the GM Marco Paddy knows well. There’s as good of an opportunity for the Sox to be keenly aware of what they’re getting from Toronto as anywhere else.
– The White Sox held a private workout for Yoenis Cespedes. Sigh, they are just never going to give De Aza a starting gig, are they? Er, uh, I mean, GREAT! New talent! A possibly elite player! A reason to get up in the morning!
– The Royals signed Yuniesky Betancourt to a 1-year deal, where he’ll likely serve as a utility infielder.
BWAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAA!!!!! Aw man, Royals gon’ Royal.
Tags: Alejandro De Aza, alex anthopoulos, baseball, BBWAA, Carlos Quentin, Frank Thomas, hall of fame, jeff bagwell, John Danks, Kenny Williams, marco paddy, toronto blue jays, White Sox, yoenis cespedes, yuniesky betancourt