LOTD: Comments by Jose Canseco Lead to Steroid Speculation About…Cal Ripken Jr.?

steroid speculation about cal ripken jr.Talk about a name I never thought I’d hear uttered in the same sentence as steroids.

Apparently Cal Ripken Jr. is now fair game for steroid speculation based on some comments made by Jose Canseco yesterday in the wake of the New York Times report regarding Big Papi and ManRam being on the 2003 list.  

Here are the comments made by Canseco that are causing a few of the biggest sports blogs out there to engage in the kind of “reckless steroid speculation” that might cause Ken Rosenthal to develop an aneurysm:

Canseco says MLB facing bigger issue — (Pedro Gomez at ESPN.com)

 “When you tell me something I didn’t already know, I’ll be surprised,” Canseco told ESPN. “And I’ll tell you this, Major League Baseball is going to have a big, big problem on their hands when they find out they have a Hall of Famer who’s used.”

“…What I speak out of my mouth is the truth. It burns like fire. Just remember, I have never lied about this subject.”

And directly below is one example of the leap in logic that Canseco’s comments have led some bloggers to take, plus a pretty telling screen grab of the poll at Sports By Brooks. Seriously, when the question of whether Cal Ripken — CAL FREAKING RIPKEN! — was or was not clean generates a 50/50 response, it’s pretty clear the MLB continues to have a major problem. 

Is Canseco Trying To Tell Us Cal Ripken Juiced? — (Sports By Brooks)

Baseball’s 2007 HOF induction featured the impeccable class of Tony Gwynnand baseball’s iron man, Cal Ripken, Jr.

Now if steroids were derived from Outback Bloomin’ Onions, then I’d be all over Gwynn in this instance. But based on the longtime Padre’s alarmingly wide waistline and lack of power, I think it’s safe to assume he wasn’t juicing.

Ripken though? *Uncomfortable squirm*

cal ripken jr steroid speculation

To be fair, Brooks goes on to say that he is not accusing Ripken of using and that he hopes such speculation is way off base. But, based on a prior experience of mine, I was under the impression that it was completely outside the realm of all reasonable standards to even put the thought out there, regardless of if other people are talking about it or not, or if certain circumstantial evidence could lead someone to wonder.

Of course, it wasn’t only Brooks jumping on the should-we-now-suspect-Ripken bandwagon.

Canseco Claims There’s a Dirty Hall of Famer, Scary If True — (Ty Duffy at The Big Lead)

Canseco said Henderson was not the Hall of Famer. If he is truthful and you move down the list, it gets scary.

Cal Ripken played on Orioles’ teams with Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson. The two combined for 89 home runs in 1996, the year all seven Orioles’ hitters who played full seasons hit more than 20 HR.

Ty also provides evidence of a curious statistical jump made by Kirby Puckett back in the day.  The Puckett paragraph includes a link to a post at Bugs and Cranks that discusses the book The Bill James Gold Mine 2008.  Here as excerpt from that post:

And finally, item 12, which concludes the essay about Atypical Seasons: “Two of the greatest home run under-producers of all time were teammates: Kirby Puckett and Gary Gaetti in 1984. Puckett hit no home runs (-16), Gaetti hit only 5 (-19). Suggesting the possibility that the Twins’ two World Championships may have been aided by their team being among the first to discover…well, I’d better not go there. Nor will I point out that Gaetti was bald and had acne and Puckett died young.”

The writer at B&C goes on to chastise James for tossing out such speculation without proof. In fact, his comments regarding James’ statements are similar to posts that were critical of my Ibanez article in June. 

To wrap all of this up into a neat, tidy little bow, here are my points in posting this:

1. There is absolutely no way that I think Cal Ripken Jr. was on steroids. But is there some circumstantial evidence that makes it at least reasonable to discuss the possibility? Sure, and much of it has been cited on other posts like the ones linked above.

  • He played Major League Baseball in the 1990s.
  • HGH has often been cited as a tool for recovery and health more than for producing bulky muscles. No one obviously had better health or a more consistent ability to recover than Cal Ripken.
  • He played on Baltimore teams that included a lot of guys already implicated and who have been proven to be users.

And I’m sure there are other thin lines of association that can be drawn, as there is for every baseball player. But from my own personal standpoint, I’d add Cal Ripken Jr. to the list of guys that I don’t think ever used. And despite being desensitized to the whole thing like everyone else because of the constant stream of new players being explicitly implicated, I’d still be pretty stunned if anything like that ever came out about Ripken. No way.

2. Things obviously have not, and are not, getting better in regards to steroids in baseball and the rampant speculation that accompanies every player. With each new name that is leaked, or each new statement from Jose Canseco, someone else gets mentioned as a potential user. Who would have ever thought that Cal Ripken Jr.’s name would start getting bandied about in the process?

3. The only way for things to get better is for past and even present users to man up and be honest. The fallout will not be as bad as they think, and it’s the only way to truly achieve any semblance of closure and protect the people who are actually innocent (whoever they are).

4. I’m even more convinced that all of the attention MSF got after the Ibanez post really was just a case of this site winning some strange sort of mainstream media lottery. Somehow we got held up as an icon of irresponsible steroid speculation, but really we are just one of many, many sites that expresses its honest thoughts, opinions, and feelings regarding steroids and baseball. And we will continue to do just that. You don’t have to read very far into our archives to see how genuinely I and the writers of this site love and appreciate the game of baseball. 

One quick note for clarity: I am in no way calling Brooks or Ty out for being wrong or off base in writing their post about Ripken. Neither one is making any kind of specific accusation and I think they are well within their right to have such a discussion even if it does name specific names, and even if that name isone as exalted as Cal Ripken Jr. But I have to admit I chuckled a little bit when I saw their posts. It was pretty easy for guys in the mainstream media to pick on little ‘ol Midwest Sports Fans back in June; we’ll see if anyone has the cojones to call out two of the bigger and more powerful blogs for doing pretty much the exact same thing I did.

Anyway, lots of activity around the web today, obviously, as baseball’s trading deadline came to a furious close.  I was going to link to stories about each trade, but I figured I could be much more efficient and just link you to MLB Trade Rumors, where they have the latest news and notes on everything trade-related in Major League Baseball.

Here are some other non-trade deadline links to carry you through the afternoon and weekend:

* – Cal Ripken Jr. photo credit: AstrosDaily.com



About Jerod Morris

I love words. I write for Copyblogger and founded MSF, The Assembly Call, & Primility. I practice yoga, eat well, & strive for balance. I love life. Namaste. Say hi on Twitter, Facebook, & G+.

Comments

  1. It’s a really interesting article covering a lot of different issues. But . . .

    A) I think it is just as irresponsible to make a claim that certain players definitely have not used as it is to implicate players on no real evidence. Such complete trust to the point of blindness toward anyone goes beyond reality. There are plenty of players I don’t suspect of using, but there are none who have earned a “don’t you dare accuse me” card. They’re men, not gods, so they’re all capable of error.

    B) In a way, I’m glad Canseco has cast suspicion on the Hall of Fame class. When questioning the stats of Raul Ibanez becomes “South Park on TV” offensive, speculating about Cal Ripken, Tony Gwynn, and Kirby Puckett takes things to a “Team America: World Police, simulated puppet sex” shock level that could cast aside the sanctimonious veil currently preventing baseball writers from actually doing their jobs.

    C) I don’t see what motivation anyone has of coming forward unless they’re doing damage control on the inevitable. I doubt any user has been 100% honest about what they’ve used and how much. They always seem to say just enough to make it plausible (except for Canseco, who seems to go overboard). If we’re to believe most confessions, every steroid user in history only used one or two times. Anyone with any kind of HOF credentials has to be scared of being implicated. But if a Hall of Famer did forward, I would love to hear the reactions from the idiots in the BBWA.

  2. I think Ripken probably used, and this is why:

    http://www.truthfromfacts.com/2009/04/13/cal-ripken-and-steroids/

  3. I am leaning that Cal is clean. I am sorry but I don’t see the metamorphosis in his body over the years like we have seen with others. At one time both Sammy and Big Mac were skinny and could even be called lanky. Then you look at how they looked towards the end. Cal never in the slightest looked like livestock. Sammy started to look like cattle from all the PED in his system.

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