So I’ve obviously received a lot of comments about this whole Bagwell thing—95 percent of them, ahem, not exactly on my side. And while I don’t love being referred to as an “ass-dripping mongoloid” (especially anonymously–but isn’t that always the case?), I do relish the chance to hear other opinions and takes. I try and be as open-minded as possible, believe it or not. Oftentimes I post something, only to later think, “Man, was I off.” It happens quite often.
But not this time.
The point many people have made is a strong one: How can you damn someone who was never proven guilty?
It’s an excellent question, especially considering I’m a far-, far-, far-, far-left liberal who thinks the death penalty is evil in all cases, because one never knows for absolute certainty.
But here’s the thing: This whole argument is Major League Baseball’s self-generated Catch-22. Back in the day, the union and the owners did everything in their power to keep the usage of PED on the downest of lows. There was, initially, no testing, then for the longest time predictable, easy-to-manipulate testing. Even now, the system is flawed—though much improved. The union, the owners, the players—they were well aware of what they were doing; what they were concealing. PED were terrific for the game, especially coming off of the 1997 strike. McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Canseco—they brought life back into the game. Power. POWer! POWER!
Because of this—because, specifically, PED were not tested for, then not properly tested for—nobody was proven guilty. Not Bonds, not Sosa, not Canseco. Nobody. It was impossible to come up positive, because there was no such thing as positive. The union didn’t allow it. Testing? We don’t need no stinking testing.
So here we are, at the end of 2010, and people can rightly say, “Look, there’s no proof! [Fill in a name] never failed a drug test! Not once!” Which is 100% correct. [Fill in a name] never failed a drug test—because the union and the owners made certain for that to be impossible. Let me say it again: Impossible.
That’s why, in this case, I believe in the power of observation and, to a certain degree, speculation. Am I happy about it? No. Is it a remotely, remotely, remotely perfect ideal? Not even close. Every person on this site who posted some variation of “So are you not gonna vote for Derek Jeter and Ichiro?” is 100 percent correct. Were I to have a vote, I would probably vote for Derek Jeter. And for Ichiro. For all we know, they used. Again—you’re right.
But this is what baseball has given us—an awkward, imperfect, pathetic, sad, whatever case of “What do we do about these guys?”-itis. Maybe the readers who say, “Forget PED and go by the stats” are correct. Maybe it’s the only way. But I just don’t think it’s right, rewarding guys who blatantly cheated (again, I consider PED blatant cheating) for their bullshit accomplishments.
I’ve referenced this before, but one of my good friends is Sal Fasano, the journeyman catcher who now manages in Toronto’s system. I know Sal and his family very well. I know of his highs, his lows, his struggles, etc. We’ve spoken at length about PED, and I believe strongly he never used (To the reader who says, “Yeah, but how do you know?” I say—fair point. One never knows 100 percent). Sal bounced up and down and all around; was slumming in the minors while Mitchell Report guys like Todd Pratt and Gregg Zaun were taking up major league roster spots. And it infuriates me. People argue, “Hey, it was the era. Everyone used.” Well, not everyone used. Even if 99 of 100 did, there remains the one. To reward and praise those who cheated to reach a certain status demeans those like Sal who did it honestly.
I don’t know the answer here. Polygraphs? Truth serum? Water boarding? I get why many of you think I’m, again, an “ass-dripping mongoloid.” I love baseball. Maybe not as much as Joe does. But quite a bit, nonetheless.
PS: An important point I’d like to make: A couple of posters have suggested, “If you had any guts, you’d go on so-and-so site and defend yourself.” Blah, blah, blah. I understand, in 2010, this is the way some think. But to me, a writer writes, then lets others have their take. It’s not a writer’s job to engage in debate, go on radio or TV shows, etc.