The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate Verdict

January 13, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

If ever the game of baseball found itself in a lose-lose situation, this would be it. Let me once again sarcastically thank the dirtbags who introduced steroids into the game for ruining it for EVERYONE!

Thanks to greed, egotism, and self-service over fair play and competition, an entire generation of baseball is forever sullied. And what angers me the most about the whole thing is that it was MY era that was ruined!

Ignorance Was Bliss

Our fathers got to grow up watching Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Reggie Jackson. Their fathers grew up watching Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Walter Johnson. These were titans. They were larger-than-life baseball stars turned legends.

Yes, there were “bad guys” back then, too. Ty Cobb was no saint on the base path, and the Black Sox made sure to leave a mark on history. But the actions of those few did not destroy the luster of an entire generation. In fact, for some players (like Cobb), it actually added to their legend.

I, on the other hand, grew up watching cheaters and drug users. The players I idolized during my youth – Canseco and McGwire, Strawberry, and Gooden… and now even more recent stars like Manny and A-Rod – have one-by-one toppled from grace.

At first, it hurt. It was the death of my innocence as a boy. I used to imagine myself in the same dugout as The Bash Brothers, or The Killer B’s. Now the curtain has been pulled back on those moments of herculean accomplishment that I witnessed, and with that action, the illusion of greatness vanished.

At one time I celebrated with these legends. I carried with me what I thought were indelible images, like those of McGwire and Sosa crossing home plate during their great 1998 homerun chase, or Roger Clemens’ twenty strike-out night against the Mariners in 1986, or of rookie sensation Wally Joyner winning the 1986 homerun derby.

Those have all been replaced by images of sad and broken men, none of whom are celebrating now.

Instead of wearing baseball uniforms they are now clad in business suits, standing before Congress or the cameras. Some are making tearful apologies, others making impassioned pleas. But they are all addressing the same problem – destroyed legacies.

The Time for Debate is Over

It is time for history to officially begin passing judgment on the actions of these athletes. Accomplishments that surely would have otherwise merited immediate induction into Cooperstown are now besmirched with an ugly (albeit implied) asterisk. Like a good pair of concrete shoes, no one with an asterisk has managed to break through the barrier that is the collection of HOF voters yet. None have been able to overcome the stigma of being a cheater.

So why do I include Roger Clemens in the same ranks as McGwire, Sosa, and Joyner? He has never been PROVEN to have cheated, and he vehemently denies any and all accusations.

The problem that faces Clemens, Jeff Bagwell, and many other players who are sure to follow after them comes in the form of a very simple question – Do I believe them? My answer is “not really.”

Here is where we find that lose-lose situation. Should the voters of baseball’s Hall of Fame ignore accusations and allegations of cheating and vote players like Roger Clemens into the Hall, knowing that there is a possibility of their being proven guilty after induction? Or do they preclude anyone shrouded in suspicion from ever being inducted, knowing that there will surely be innocent players unfairly denied an honor that they truly deserved?

In defense of those players still only suspected of steroid use, Babe Ruthless calls upon a predictable, but no less valuable, defense. The insistence that a player is “innocent until proven guilty” is one that is hard to deny, and Babe Ruthless wastes no time in applying it to this situation.

As much as I hate the overuse of that adage, I cannot deny its value. While a comparison to McCarthyism or the Salem Witch Trials may be a bit extreme (we are just talking about baseball), the notion that mere accusation could bar someone an otherwise deserved honor is very unpleasant to consider.

But that is nonetheless where Loyal Homer chimes in with hi argument.

There is already a cloud of unpleasantness surrounding this infamous era, and so avoidance is an impossibility. According to Loyal Homer, it is the integrity of the hall itself, not the integrity of the athletes, that is really at stake. Fairness to a player is secondary when you consider the virtues that the Baseball Hall of Fame embodies.

Induction into the Hall is a privilege, not a right. The voters each year want to ensure that only the greatest of baseball’s ambassadors are the ones chosen for immortality.

So do you risk the integrity of the Hall, or sacrifice good faith at the expense of the individual athlete’s legacy?

Preserving the Institution

I am awarding this verdict to Loyal Homer for one reason – the Baseball Hall of Fame is the last piece of the game not yet tainted by steroids.

Records may be called into question and athletes’ resumes may be cheapened, but the Hall remains a bastion where the very best that baseball has to offer can still be respected and honored without question. As Loyal Homer states, the Hall must remain free from the cloud of suspicion.

Do I feel for the wrongfully accused? Absolutely. They are innocent victims, simply caught in the cross-fire of a witch hunt to clean up baseball. But that is not the concern of the Hall of Fame.

Cooperstown does not have to solve the problem of steroids. It does not have to pass judgment on players like Clemens or Bagwell. The only function which the Hall and its voters must perform is to honor the game’s greatest.

Unfortunately for players like Clemens, suspicion is all it takes. How can voters confidently induct him into the Hall of Fame if there are very real doubts as to the legitimacy of how he accomplished many of the things which would have made him great?

Let’s be honest, this would not be the first time that suspicion deprived someone from induction into the Hall (e.g. Shoeless Joe Jackson).

Voters for the Baseball Hall of Fame have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to preserving the purity of the game. If there is even a shred of doubt as to the validity of a players’ accomplishments, the voters cannot let him in. To do so would irresponsibly risk the legacy of the entire history of the game.

If just one Hall of Famer is found to have cheated AFTER the fact of his induction, the integrity of the entire Hall is lost forever.

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The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate

January 11, 2011

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Babe Ruthless.

Boy is it nice to be back! (A huge thanks to everyone here at TSD for picking up the slack while I was gone!)

What better way to get back into the swing of things than to tackle a debate that has probably been a long time coming – steroids and the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Although it feels like we have been talking about steroids in baseball for ever, the issue of steroids in the Hall of Fame is really a problem that is still in its infancy. We are just now at a point where players from the notorious “Steroid Era” such as Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro are eligible for Hall of Fame candidacy.

With each year of voting, it becomes clearer – steroids are a black mark that simply cannot be erased from an athlete’s resume. Voters are sending a message loud and clear that they will not reward any steroid-tainted player with baseball’s highest honor.

I think it is safe to assume that most people are in agreement with those voters when it comes to an athlete who has either admitted to steroid use, or some other form of proof has been provided to definitively confirm that fact.

But what about players who are only SUSPECTED or ACCUSED of steroid use? Should a player who has never admitted to using or been a proven user of steroids be shunned from the Hall of Fame by voters?

The cloud of suspicion around steroids can itself be a powerful influence in how the public perceives an athlete. Loyal Homer believes that suspicion alone should be enough to justify banishment for HOF voters while Babe Ruthless feels that mere suspicion should have no bearing whatsoever on a HOF vote.

How will history look back on the Steroid Era? It’s time to find out…

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The Steroids in the Hall of Fame Debate… The Steroid Era: Innocence Abandoned

January 11, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Steroids are dangerous, self-destructive, and unethical. Society has become well aware of these facts, and has thoroughly – and appropriately – vilified known steroid users. While professional sports as whole have been slow to deal with the issue of how to punish steroids users, at the urging of society and Congress leagues have taken active steps over the past half decade to address the problem. But America’s great steroid purge has also created new problems of its own.

The purge has transformed an entire generation of fans into skeptics, doubting Thomas-es that scrutinize and distrust any and every above average athlete out of fear that success might be the result of a bottle and not hard work. The MLB Hall of Fame has mirrored fan skepticism, essentially locking the door to anyone who was even accused of using steroids. While I understand the HOF’s need to make wise decisions in order to protect its integrity and validity, banning every player with even a modicum of unsubstantiated accusation against them is simply an act of unabashed paranoia. The MLB Hall of Fame should allow in worthy players who have not been proven guilty.

Everyone is a Suspect

In the wake of the Steroid Era EVERYONE is a suspect. I’m sure some readers are trying to qualify that last statement thinking, “He can’t really mean everyone is a suspect,” but that is indeed actually what I meant. Every single MLB player that was in the majors from the 1990s through the mid 2000s can uniformly be lumped into the Steroid Era, and is thus viewed through a lens of doubt that opens them to accusations of guilt. Isn’t this doubt an accusation in and of itself?

Sure not every player is mentioned by name in the Mitchell Report or by informant testimony, but what if they were? Suppose in Jose Conseco’s next tell all book he boldly claims that no one in baseball is clean (after all, Jose has been right about a lot of guys in the past – McGwire, A-Rod, and more). Would that be cause enough to ban the entire player universe during this dark age for baseball?

My opposition in today’s debate, Loyal Homer, would say “Yes!” He would believes that anyone who is accused of steroid use should be banned from enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, regardless of evidence or credibility of the testimony. Banned, remind you, not because of an admission of guilt or proof, but because of an allegation. I don’t know about you, but I find something patently un-American about finding someone guilty until proven innocent.

Loyal Homer’s steadfast rule of zero tolerance for the accused would not just target the usual suspects like the big and bulky Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire. It also accuses the slim and nimble players, too. We know that designer PEDs exist that help players build lean muscle, the way A-Rod did, so even small guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Dustin Pedroia, and Derek Jeter could have used them (although I HIGHLY doubt it). But Loyal Homer’s zero tolerance policy would ban these guys solely based off of accusations. Even if they vehemently deny the charge and there is no hard evidence to prove otherwise, Loyal Homer would exclude guys who revolutionized the sport simply because they playing in baseball’s darkest hours.

A New McCarthyism

The worst part about this rise in skepticism is the fact that it actively encourages abandoning the American principle of innocence of the accused until proven guilty. This is not a new phenomenon, however, as we have seen it at least twice before in America – once in colonial Salem, Massachusetts and again in Congressional Red Scare of the 1950s. Each time Americans were prone to hysteria over unsubstantiated claims, and each time the lives and reputations of the innocent were ruined. It should not be allowed to happen again.

I realize that someone not completely sold on my argument will think I am haplessly appealing to patriotic rhetoric (subliminal message – USA! USA! USA! Bald Eagle, Constitution, Statue of Liberty), but we should give players the benefit of the doubt. Certainly it is not an unalienable right to play professional baseball, much less be commemorated in its holiest shrine, but it should not be so difficult of a task that even unproven accusations of guilt keep an individual out either.

Take Roger Clemens, for example. The man has already lost most popular support in the fight to clear his name, yet he maintains his innocence. If current trends continue, this seven time Cy Young winner will never see Cooperstown without buying a ticket. But his case highlights the most ludicrous aspect of this whole episode of paranoid skepticism – it has become impossible to prove a person’s innocence.

Just for argument’s sake, re-examine the Clemens saga with a fresh, unbiased perspective. A man faces 30 years in prison and a $1.5M perjury charge simply because he maintains innocence. This man could have admitted to wrong doing, if any existed, and been forgiven as he has seen former friends Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte successfully do, yet he continues to tell anyone that will listen that he did not use PEDs. Still the man’s reputation and legacy are defamed because the accusations of an admitted HGH user (Pettitte) and a guy accused of sexual assault with the date-rape drug (former trainer Brian McNamee). Does that sound fair? While Clemens specific guilt or innocence is immaterial, it highlights the greater need to give people a fair chance, which Loyal Homer’s stance does not.

Guys like Clemens should be let in, at least until they are proven to be guilty. Then, you can Reggie Bush-Heisman them all you want.

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The HGH Testing in the Minor Leagues Debate – To Test or Not To Test? That is the Question For MLB

March 4, 2010

Read the debate intro and the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

Recently, Terry Newton—a rugby player from the United Kingdom—made headlines as the world’s first professional athlete to receive a suspension for using human growth hormones (HGH). What is even more shocking is the fact that he actually owned up to it. While on the surface this looks to be a giant leap forward in the battle against performance enhancing drugs, the truth is a test for HGH has been around since the Athens Olympics in 2004. Now, however, baseball officials seem to be chomping at the bit to start testing players. Bud Selig’s current plan is to experiment with the blood based test in the minor leagues and then potentially bring it to the major league. Today’s debate addresses the issue, should Major League Baseball (MLB) bother with beginning testing for HGH in the minor leagues or just go straight to testing in the Majors?

Suggesting that HGH testing move straight to the Bigs is a knee-jerk reaction at best. Baseball officials have been functioning in damage control mode because of performance enhancing drug scandals for so long that they seem to have forgotten how to address issues – with a plan. Nothing would be gained from rushing the implementation of the test, except a shallow perception that baseball is somehow tougher on performance enhancing drugs. Testing for HGH would not change the weak suspensions that MLB issues for offenders. So what is to gain by hastily implementing a controversial “new” test that baseball has previously criticized? Absolutely nothing!

Let me play devil’s advocate for a moment by posing the questions, what is the big deal about HGH use in the first place? Is it really that bad? Dr. Richard Hellman, the president of the board of directors for the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) states that, “careful scientific studies show that the effect of the growth hormone on improving muscle strength [to a professional athlete] is relatively small and much less important than their training regiment.” Hellman also states that, “When a healthy adult male takes growth hormone either to improve athletic performance, or to improve muscle building, or to prevent aging, he is always making a mistake and wasting his money…There is little benefit from these substances [HGH and androgens], and unlimited risk.” The side effects of excessive HGH use include changes in temperament, anger problems, excessive sweating, arthritis, and even diabetes. These side effects are most certainly a punishment in their own right, not to mention the fact that they could actually shorten a player’s career. In my opinion the negatives far outweigh the positives and the athlete engaging in the risky behavior is in reality cheating himself.

There is also a matter of timing to consider. Baseball’s current labor contract does not expire until 2011. Taking action at the major league level before that time would require the consent of the players’ union. Supposing that the players union rejects the proposal to test in the majors in 2010, which both the MLB and NFL players unions have done previously, the media backlash would be monumental. Baseball already has a tarnished image, due in no small part to performance enhancing drug scandals. The last thing Bud Selig wants right now is to have to explain away why baseball players do not want to submit to more drug testing. If HGH testing is something MLB deems essential, then they should test it in the minor leagues this year and make it a sticking point for the Majors under the next labor agreement. We are seriously talking about the difference of waiting one season at the major league level. Anything more drastic could potentially cause a work stoppage. Can baseball afford that right now, during the current economic recession? I do not think so. Certainly baseball has a responsibility to clean up the game, but that does not mean that they should sacrifice good business sense to do it.

Plus this debate hangs on a very fine point–should HGH blood testing be instituted at the major league level this year. No one is suggesting that baseball bury its head in the ground like it did during the steroid era of the 1990s. I merely suggest that MLB use caution moving forward. HGH blood testing is not universally seen as trustworthy. Although an HGH blood test has been around for nearly 6 years, baseball officials have previously questioned the tests validity. Now, in the wake of one suspension issued because of one unchallenged, positive test on a different continent in another sport, and baseball officials are starting to sing a different tune. It just does not seem like a well thought out plan to jump head first into full blown, major league 40-man roster testing without at least trying it at the minor league level first. Imagine the publicity nightmare that would ensue if a high profile all-star, like Albert Pujols, tests positive and then publicly disputes the validity of a test which the league also previously questioned. That would require some major back peddling from Bud Selig. Baseball has a plan in place, and there is no justification to push this on the Majors without having tested it at the minor league level first.

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The HGH Testing in the Minor Leagues Debate – An Absence of Logic

March 4, 2010

Read the debate intro and the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

I feel like I am studying for the SATs right now.

Consider this scenario – There is a problem of people speeding while driving on the highway. There is also a device called a radar gun that allows police officers to see how fast people are going. Common sense dictates that the police should use that radar gun to identify those people who violate the speed limit. Once identified, consequences can be put in place and the police now have an effective way to help preserve the rules for driving. Problem solved.

Let us now apply that same logic to the problem of steroids in baseball.

Consider THIS scenario – There is a problem in Major League Baseball with steroid use, including Human Growth Hormone (HGH). There is also a test that is believed to successfully identify the presence of HGH in blood.

This shouldn’t be THAT hard to figure out!

Despite that painfully OBVIOUS solution to this problem, there is still no real talk of HGH testing in Major League Baseball. WHY?! Everyone claims that they WANT to get rid of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the game, including Commissioner Bud Selig, the league owners, the players, and even the players’ union.

I will say it again – this should not be THAT hard to figure out!

Misplaced Attention

Rather than implement this HGH test for players in Major League Baseball, though, the league has instead decided to use it ONLY in the Minor Leagues – how does that make sense? That is like having kids in Driver’s Education take a breathalyzer test to help curtail drinking and driving among adults, or having the FBI raid your City Council to address reports of corruption in the US Senate. It is a token gesture designed to give the ILLUSION that something is being done, although it does not even come CLOSE to resolving the actual issue at hand. Essentially, Selig has decided that the best way to prevent Major League players from using HGH is by testing people who are not even in Major League Baseball – BRILLIANT!

Are players in the Minor Leagues are also using HGH? Sure. However, the public is not clamoring for a crackdown because the backup catcher for the Toledo Mudhens could be using HGH. Likewise, if we found out tomorrow that a middle-reliever in the bullpen of the Albuquerque Isotopes tested positive for HGH, most people wouldn’t even notice. However, the simple RUMOR of a player in the Major Leagues is enough to garner national attention in the media.

The reason for this lack of concern at the Minor League level is because these players are not making MILLIONS of dollars by cheating. Don’t get me wrong – It is absolutely a problem, and it should be addressed. However, it should be address ALONG WITH, rather than INSTEAD OF the problem in Major League Baseball.

Foolish Resistance

One of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of implementing this common-sense procedure is the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). They have balked at the idea of this new HGH test because it requires a much more invasive process. Rather than ask the player to simply provide a urine sample, blood must be drawn directly from the person being tested. What they are failing to understand, though, is that the public doesn’t care about whether or not a millionaire athlete has to roll up their sleeve for a little needle-poke. Is that a FAIR perception? No, but it is the perception nonetheless.

Likewise, is it FAIR that these players are viewed as being guilty until proven innocent? Probably not, but in the court of public opinion (which is ultimately the court that the MLB must please if it wishes to stay in business), fairness is rarely taken into consideration. As far as the general public is concerned, a refusal to take the test is tantamount to a public admission of guilt. The longer that the MLBPA continues to fight this test, the greater the corresponding public outcry will be to get something put in place.

Just yesterday, new reports emerged of yet another HGH investigation involving Dr. Anthony Galea, along with (you guessed it) Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, and Jose Reyes. It has become the latest in a series of embarrassments to the MLB and its once beloved players. These investigations will CONTINUE to emerge, and each will further damage the reputation of Major League Baseball, until a SATISFACTORY measure is put in place to control the use of these banned substances.

The Importance of Fan Buy-In

With the possibility of NBA and NFL players’ strikes looming in the next few years, baseball has a unique opportunity to bolster support from its fans. During a time when two of the biggest sports in America may be inactive, Major League Baseball has the potential to greatly strengthen their own fanbase, but that will only happen if the fans are satisfied with the product they are given. Now is the time for the MLB to do everything in its power to BUILD fan support, not alienate it!

Fans of the game despise cheaters and demand that REAL action be taken in the Major Leagues to address this issue. Now that there is a REAL option in place to test for HGH, there is no excuse not to use it. If Major League Baseball TRULY wants to resolve the problem of PEDs, and TRULY wants to keep its fans happy, then HGH testing for ALL players must be implemented immediately!

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The Credibility of a Cheater Debate – A Question of Belief

January 27, 2010

Read the debate intro and the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer. about whether Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire has more credibility.

Why does it feel like I am being asked to decide whether Vlad the Impaler was a better leader than Caligula?

This is definitely one of the more interesting debates we have ever had here at TSD, and I must give credit to both Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer for effectively arguing the merits of two meritless people. However, I am not tasked with recognizing both debaters. Instead, I am tasked with picking a winner, and the winner today is – Loyal Homer.

This debate was all about credibility. I could care less about what Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco do or say. Instead, the issue at hand was how much I tend to BELIEVE what they do or say.

A Comparison of Motives

As I read (and re-read) the arguments presented I was ultimately looking for some key points that would validate one’s credibility over the other. The problem is that in nearly every possible sense of the word, both fall equally short of the mark.

Both McGwire and Canseco cheated in the game. In this regard, they are equal and I cannot award more credibility to one than the other.

Second, as Babe Ruthless keenly pointed out, Canseco is an opportunist. He strategically released the information that he knew in a manner that would still benefit him personally. Canseco, though, is not the only opportunist. Although his tactics were very different, McGwire also played the role of opportunist in his admission.

Both Canseco AND McGwire conveniently timed and announced their confessions in a manner that would better suit their already self-serving motives. It is true that McGwire waited five long years before coming clean, and it is true that McGwire probably only admitted to the use of steroids so that it would make his return to baseball much smoother. Just because Canseco admitted to it sooner, though, does not make his motives any nobler. Like McGwire, Canseco’s admission was not about doing the right thing, or cleaning up baseball. Instead, it was all part of a sensational marketing tactic intended only to further promote the release of his upcoming book. In both cases, the admissions had nothing to do with moral rightness. BOTH confessed for their own self-promotion. Because of that fact, I still cannot award more credibility to one than the other.

The Deciding Factor

After reading several times over both arguments, always arriving back at the same stalemate, one single point finally hit home in such a way that it ultimately tipped the scales in Loyal Homer’s favor.

Loyal Homer brought up the allegations that Jose Canseco essentially tried to blackmail fellow ball player Magglio Ordonez. The offer, essentially, was that Canseco would keep Ordonez’s name quiet on the condition that Ordonez helped fund one of Canseco’s side-projects. While Ordonez may be referred to as a “buddy” of Canseco’s, that is blackmail in my book.

That single statement made by Loyal Homer was all that I needed to ultimately make my decision.

When arguing about credibility, it does not matter if Canseco actually DID try to blackmail Ordonez in such a manner. Instead, I simply asked myself if I BELIEVED that Canseco could or would try to blackmail Ordonez. My answer to that question was, “absolutely.” When I asked that same question to myself about whether or not McGwire would do that, I was not nearly as confident in my response.

Although Canseco’s previous statements may have been proven true, his shameless, selfish manner of stepping on anyone and everyone in his path, as long as it benefits him, ultimately raises questions about ulterior motives. There is no doubt in my mind that Canseco is only looking out for the best interests of one person – himself. Whenever Canseco says or does something, I am always asking the question “What’s in it for him?”

While McGwire may have acted in a similar manner of selfishness, I simply cannot believe that McGwire would have blackmailed a fellow athlete for the greedy purpose of financing a movie project. Perhaps I am wrong in that assessment. But, credibility has little to do with what is ACTUALLY said or done, and everything to do with what I BELIEVE would be said or done.

Regardless of how transparent McGwire’s actions have been, and regardless of how believable his tear-filled admission may or may not have been, it was still enough to create a better illusion of sincerity. Canseco’s unabashed representation of himself as nothing more than a “taker” ultimately damages his credibility MORE than McGwire’s refusal to admit the truth.

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The Credibility of a Cheater Debate – “Bash Brother” to “Oh, Brother”

January 26, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Babe Ruthless and Loyal Homer. about whether Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire has more credibility.

Two men – both former teammates, both cheaters.

Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire serve as two very different case studies from the same controversy.

One man, Canseco, has shamelessly profited from his time as a cheater, and has also profited by outing his former colleagues. Meanwhile, McGwire has mostly hidden from his past, never denying the allegations, but also refusing to admit to them (until recently). Canseco has played the role of Town Crier, while McGwire has plead the Fifth Amendment.

Although their paths both begin at virtually the same point, their actions have led them to two completely different places. Today, McGwire still finds himself gainfully employed within the constructs of Major League Baseball, despite the allegations and eventual admission to cheating, while Jose Canseco finds himself sharing headlines with Vanilla Ice and Screech from Saved By The Bell as he squared off against Danny Partridge (Bonaduce) and Vai Sikahema in Celebrity Boxing.

When Canseco released his book “Juiced” he was criticized as being a pariah in baseball, a rumor-mongering rat who sold his so-called friends down the river for his own benefit. Yet with every new admission, Canseco gets to put another notch in the “I told you so” column. Meanwhile, McGwire has attempted to fly quietly under the radar. He has made no waves, pointed no fingers, and NOW has apologized for his actions.

They are two cheaters with two tarnished reputations, but there is even honor among thieves and cheats, right?

Between Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco, who has more credibility?

Does that fact that Jose Canseco – who has been outspoken and boldly honest about his steroid use – is continually proven correct make him a more credible source than the recently admitted cheater Mark McGwire, who refused to address the allegations until very recently, an admission coincidentally timed with his hiring as the new hitting coach of the St. Louis Cardinals?

Babe Ruthless will argue that Jose Canseco is indeed more credible than Mark McGwire, while Loyal Homer will argue on McGwire’s behalf.

Although one of our debaters will ultimately be named winner for their “support” of these two men, there are not any REAL winners. Instead, McGwire, Canseco, and hundreds of others continue only to make losers of themselves AND of those fans who have been lied to. Especially those who, like me, grew up idolizing the Bash Brothers and their seemingly mythical feats, only to find out that like so many other childhood illusions, they were, in fact, mythical.

I suppose the NEXT line of bull you’ll try to sell me is that The Rock is REALLY just The Tooth Fairy in disguise… NO ONE would believe THAT!

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The Credibility of a Cheater Debate – Jose Canseco, The More Reputable Bash Brother

January 26, 2010

Read the debate intro and the opposing argument from Loyal Homer about whether Jose Canseco or Mark McGwire has more credibility.

I have always liked Jose Canseco. I was a huge Canseco fan growing up in the 1980s and 1990s. Canseco was as entertaining and well-rounded an athlete as they come. He was the first player to ever enter baseball’s prestigious 40/40 club, a feat only duplicated by Alex Rodriguez, Alfonso Soriano, and Barry Bonds. He achieved this feat during a mind-blowing 1988 campaign which also earned him an All-Star game selection, a Silver Slugger award, and the America League MVP. What’s more, he was a part of a power tandem with fellow Oakland A’s slugger Mark McGwire that was the envy of every baseball team in the country. The Bash Brothers as they were dubbed took the Oakland A’s to the World Series, and in the process endeared themselves as heroes to millions of kids across America. Flash forward 22 years to the present, and the names McGwire and Canseco conjure up more ire and disgust than a bikini mud wrestling match between Hillary Clinton and Bud Selig. How could the Bash Brothers have had such a fall from greatness?

The answer can be summed up in two words: they cheated. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire committed one of baseball’s unforgivable sins. They used performance enhancing drugs… and got caught. Ever since Canseco and McGwire were first implicated with steroids people have questioned their credibility, and today’s debate pits the former teammates in a head-to-head competition of trustworthiness and reliability. I am shocked that people think there is even a debate here. Unequivocally, Jose Canseco has more credibility than Mark McGwire!

The fact that people perceive Canseco as anything other than honest is absurd. He has been truthful with the public right from the beginning. The problem for Canseco is that his reputation has fallen victim to public backlash and smear campaigns. Initially, Canseco’s allegations, specifically those that implicated other star players, were dismissed as the rants of a has-been fighting for his last 15 minutes of fame. The negative response from the fans and the media left him ostracized, as baseball’s biggest pariah since Pete Rose. But, this is simply a case of “shooting the messenger.” The fact that Canseco was the first high profile player of the steroids era to confess his transgressions, and the unapologetic manner in which he made his admission, caused the media to portray him as unscrupulous and as sleazy as one of R. Kelly’s private videos. The man simply capitalized on his situation. Steroids gave Jose a huge dilemma, and he made “dilemonade.” Instead of offering a humble, tear-filled plea for forgiveness that definitely would not have fit with his character or changed the attitudes of the media and fans, he tried to make the best of the situation by writing a tell-all book. He has been labeled unfairly as a liar and a snitch, but the most appropriate moniker would actually be opportunist.

Canseco’s reputation also suffered from an issue of timing. He owned up to using steroids in 2005 just four years after he ended his career in Major League Baseball, and he did it in his own flashy fashion. Canseco wrote an exposé about his career during the steroids era, entitled Juiced: Wild Times, Rampant ‘Roids, Smash Hits and How Baseball Got Big, which implicated numerous big leaguers, including former teammate and Bash Brother Mark McGwire. Canseco suffered in large part because he was the first to break the silence about steroids. It was not exactly a case of wrong place at the wrong time, because there was no right place or time to tell the truth about the greatest deception in sports history. On the opposite end of the spectrum, McGwire drug out his confession for nearly half a decade. Although he was outed in Canseco’s book in 2005, McGwire did not own up to using steroids until January of 2010. Not to mention the fact that Big Mac’s Congressional denials and sidestepping was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. So I ask again, who is the more trustworthy source now?

Like it or not, Conseco speakith the truth. The fans and the media were not receptive to Canseco naming names. But in the end, Canseco got to tell everyone, “I told you so!” Canseco accused Jason Giambi of juicing. Check. There’s one. Canseco told us all that former teammate Rafael Palmeiro used steroids. Palmeiro proclaimed to Congress and America, “I have never used steroids. Period.” Well… five months later, guess who gets a suspension for testing positive for steroids – Palmeiro. Canseco 2, Those In Denial 0. Canseco told us Alex Rodriguez was on the juice, and people still doubted the man. Reports surface that A-Rod tested positive, and I guess lightning strikes thrice. Throw in the fact that he told us about Big Mac five years before he owned up to it and Canseco is starting to look like the Nostradamus of Steroids. What’s probably most shocking is that Canseco was not merely saying he has second- or third-hand information about these players performance enhancing drug use, but that he actually injected many of them – especially Mark McGwire. How did he think he could talk his way out of that? And how is it that people still doubt Conseco’s credibility?

He experienced the steroids era from the inside and has turned into the nation’s foremost investigative journalist on the issue. No one has to like him, but we do have to admit that he is credible. Mark McGwire, however, is a liar and a coward. There is no comparison. Canseco wins.

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The Blood Testing in Non-Unioned Sports Debate – What Are You Hiding?

January 7, 2010

Read the debate intro and the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless that blood testing should not be required in non-union sports.

Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Rodney Harrison, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, Bill Romanowski, Shawne Merriman, Tyler Perry?! Well, you get the picture.

The illusions of fair play, good sportsmanship, and honest athletes have been completely shattered. No more is the innocence of “the boys of summer” or “America’s pastime” preserved. Instead, innocence has been replaced by “Show me the money,” contract athletes, the win-at-all cost mentality, and athletes who are more concerned about off-the-field celebrity status than on-the-field performance.

Being a sentimental sports fan, it pains me to face that harsh reality, but it is a reality nonetheless. Athletes can no longer be taken at their word for being honest and hard working. History has shown us that the billion dollar industry of athletic competition creates too much temptation for athletes who want to make “the big bucks.” Athletes today have proven that they are willing to shortcut and cheat the system to gain a competitive edge over opponents, even at the expense of their own physical well-being.

Since the participants can no longer be trusted to train honestly and ethically, it then becomes the responsibility of larger governing bodies to enforce the ideals of pure competition. In order to ensure that sports remain a matchup of people competing based solely on talent (as opposed to a comparison of who got the better injections), it is vital that ALL sports take on a more proactive approach to drug screening. Mandatory blood testing is the most effective method today.

Just because athletes in boxing, cycling, or track and field (for example) are not bound to the governing rules of a player’s union does not mean they should have the right to decline blood testing.

The problem is that athletes who refuse to test give the appearance that they have something to hide. Consider boxer Manny Pacquiao, who has refused to submit to the increased blood testing that Floyd Mayweather, Jr. has requested. He claims that his reason is a dislike for the process of having blood drawn. So let me get this straight – Manny Pacquiao has no problem at all with standing in front of another man and getting beaten senseless (or beating him senseless, which is more often the case). He will exchange punches to the head, face, and body, resulting in cuts, tears, and blood. But he cannot stomach a little needle and pin prick to help verify that he is not cheating? I don’t buy it!

It is precisely for that reason that athletes such as Lance Armstrong and Michael Phelps already voluntarily submit to a greater number of tests than is currently required. They understand that the feats they have accomplished seem so extraordinary that many will question whether they have legitimately accomplished them, or if they instead have cheated in some way.

Just imagine the backlash if Michael Phelps had not volunteered for the extra testing after winning his eight gold medals in Beijing. It would cast doubt on his accomplishments, because people would think he has something to hide. Consequently, that doubt would radiate into speculation about the sanctioning bodies in which Phelps competes. Just as Major League Baseball has been accused of allowing its players to use steroids, the International Olympic Committee would be challenged and their legitimacy would be diminished.

Why blood testing, though? Simply put, it is harder to “fool” a blood test than it is a urine test. Blood testing seems to bring with it the confidence necessary to ensure fairness and quell speculation, which are the purposes of drug testing. Athletes, and the sanctioning organizations they compete under, should be clamoring to ensure their reputations remain unquestioned and untarnished, and the best way to do that is through mandatory blood testing.

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The Publish the Steroids List Debate – End the Rumors… Release It!

July 7, 2009

Read the debate intro and Bleacher Fan’s argument to keep the list from the public.

Allow me to take a trip down memory lane.

December 12, 2007.

It’s the day before Major League Baseball is set to release the Mitchell Report. Loyal Homer is debating with friends on some names that may, or may not, be in the report. It leads to quite an interesting discussion.

Fast forward to one day later. The report is released by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell. I remember discussing the names on this list with those same friends. Some were not surprising at all. Some were surprising. And, we were quite surprised that some names were not on the list.

It was all speculation.

Now, has their hands on the supposed list of 103 players who testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs in random screenings in 2003. This has been a highly secretive list up to this point, with the occasional name being leaked out. It has led to much speculation by the media and by the public.

I have had numerous conversations about who I think is, or is not, on that list. They are quite similar to the conversations I had prior to the releasing of the Mitchell Report.

There’s one way to end all of this speculation and avoid the court of public opinion convicting innocent ballplayers – just release the darn list.

In fact, the Chicago baseball managers Ozzie Guillen and Lou Piniella even agree with me.

One by one, these names are going to somehow be leaked. Bud Selig’s wish to have the steroid era put in the past is never going to happen as it stands now, because every time it seems like the story has gotten old, another name leaks out. This could go on for years! Did someone say closure? HA! That isn’t going to happen with a constant leaking of names! Not to mention having websites like release their lists where accuracy is only “90% certain.” Whether or not they are completely accurate isn’t the point. It just continues to put a really dark black eye on baseball.

Why not just bite the bullet and release the list? Yes, I’m aware these tests were confidential back in 2003 and “cannot be released” per the most recent collective bargaining agreement. But, let me ask the players this:

“Guys, if your name is on this list, it’s getting out. It may not be today. It may not be tomorrow. But, it’s coming. Why not go ahead and have it released so you can share in the spotlight with 102 of your buddies? Wouldn’t you rather have MLB release the list than a fantasy sports website?”

Yes, the game would suffer in the short term, but it would benefit in the long run. It is best to go ahead and deal with the consequences from the public now, instead of having this issue linger over the rest of some of these players careers.

To the fans… you know you are curious to see this list! Don’t lie! You want to be able to tell your buddies that you knew that _______ was on the list!!!

End the speculation! Release the list! The truth shall set you free… well, sort of!