THE BLOG

Steroids Strike Out

05/25/2011 12:00 pm ET
  • Ken Levine Emmy-Winning Writer/Director/Producer, MLB Announcer

Congratulations to Cal Ripken Jr. and Tony Gwynn for being selected to the Baseball Hall-of-Fame. Having broadcast for both the Orioles and the Padres it was a privilege being able to watch these gifted athletes play every day. And more important than their stats and the honor they brought to the game, both men at times agreed to be my guest on the post game show. And this was radio, folks.

Mark McGwire with 583 home runs didn't make the cut. The suspicion of drug use and McGwire's refusal to do the 2005 congressional steroid hearing post game show led to that decision. And it poses the bigger question: should players who are suspected of illegally enhancing their performance be denied entrance into the hallowed hall? Does this mean we keep out Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmiero, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Jason Grimsley?

Just think, if the Rock n' Roll Hall-of-Fame had a drug restriction its only members would be Debby Boone and the Singing Nun.

When baseball righteously upholds this policy because they must protect and preserve their sacred level playing field it really is a joke. Players in the 50's and 60's downed uppers like they were Chicklets. Did that keep them out? What about when baseball lowered the pitching mound five inches in the late 60's to give hitters a better chance? Is every batting record after 1968 tainted? And every pitching record before 1968? What about the "live ball" MLB employed for a few years? Felix Fermin even hit a dinger, for Godsakes! And if we're really getting serious, no home run ever hit in Colorado should count towards anything.

Since Hall-of-Famer, Ty Cobb first captured the stolen base crown by spiking infielders at second base, players and teams have always looked for an edge. They steal signs, they cork bats, juice balls, tilt foul lines, hire a midget, water down basepaths, wear reflective jewelry, play "Pop Goes the Weasel" and show fountains spouting on Diamondvision Boards when Viagra spokesman, Rafael Palmiero comes to the plate. I'm not saying I condone it (well...maybe the last example) but that's just part of the game. Baseball is built on tradition and that's one of them.

Gaylord Perry's in the Hall-of-Fame. He never threw a pitch that didn't spray the first four rows of the grandstands.

Steroid use is wrong and is dangerous. The health risks are enormous. And in the long run, the price these players pay for their inflated statistics may be far greater than the benefits. But I'm sorry, you shouldn't have to be an Eagle Scout to qualify for Cooperstown.

For those who say it would be a gross injustice if Mark McGwire is in the Hall-of-Fame, I say it's a gross injustice that Jim Rice isn't.