Steroids: An unfortunate word immediately associated with baseball.
Many people are quick to blame the players for their use of steroids or other banned performance enhancing drug use. Rightfully so, even if they were told by others to take the banned substances, they are the responsible ones for what they put into their bodies. This is something called integrity and it should go beyond winning. Integrity should be above all else.
In 2013, no players were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. This was in many ways a slap to the face to all of the players on the ballots accused of steroid use. Few players have actually admitted their guilt leaving only speculation. The Hall of Fame voters however have already convicted many of the players, the lack of votes many get being their execution.
The 2014 Hall of Fame class will be a thick one. In addition to Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas we will see three managers enter Cooperstown: Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre. Their winning records say they deserve it, but should we hold them accountable for what some of their star players did?
La Russa managed Mark McGwire while in Oakland and during his obvious steroid days in St. Louis. Also included in Oakland was Jose Canseco, the man who literally wrote the book on steroid use in baseball. La Russa won, due in large part to players he managed using steroids. There have also been some who believe Albert Pujols was juicing as his size has decreased drastically since leaving the Cardinals.
Cox is another deserving manager worth of entering the Hall of Fame. His Atlanta Braves may have only won one title, but their continued success at capturing the division title whether when they were in the National League West then National League East is outstanding. Notably a lot of the success had to do with the pitching, which if we have learned anything from steroid accusations is just as helpful as it is for power hitters. Gary Sheffield was the only player of note named on the Mitchell Report that played under Cox’s reign, only spending 2002 and 2003 with the Braves.
Finally there’s Torre. The Yankees’ skipper won a lot of games with Roger Clemens, one of the more notorious steroid users, on the mound. Andy Pettitte is also an admitted and regretted steroid user. Considering all of the championships the Yankees won under Torre, one has to wonder how well his teams would have done without the use of illegal substances.
It’s of course unfair to single these three managers out. Every team in baseball during the 1990s had at least someone using at some point. The double-standard of it though, why should only the players be punished and not the managers? Even worse, players like Craig Biggio whom has never been mentioned in the conversation with steroids suffer because of his peers’ actions.
Unfortunate as it is, the punishment for breaking the rules may not hit evenly.
The Smoking Gun