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. Â
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)
Â “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.Â
Is Canseco Trying To Tell Us Cal Ripken Juiced? — (Sports By Brooks)
Baseballâ€™s 2007 HOF induction featured the impeccable class of Tony Gwynnand baseballâ€™s iron man, Cal Ripken, Jr.
Now if steroids were derived from Outback Bloominâ€™ Onions, then Iâ€™d be all over Gwynn in this instance. But based on the longtime Padreâ€™s alarmingly wide waistline and lack of power, I think itâ€™s safe to assume he wasnâ€™t juicing.
Ripken though? *Uncomfortable squirm*
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 Thereâ€™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 Oriolesâ€™ teams with Rafael Palmeiro and Brady Anderson. The two combined for 89 home runs in 1996, the year all seven Oriolesâ€™ 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. Â The Puckett paragraph includes a link to a post at Bugs and Cranks that discusses the book The Bill James Gold Mine 2008. Â 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).Â Suggesting the possibility that the Twinsâ€™ two World Championships may have been aided by their team being among the first to discoverâ€¦well, Iâ€™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.Â
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.Â
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. Â 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:
- Did Percy Harvin Keep It Real? — (Sparty and Friends)
- Marcus Harrison isn’t fat, he’s just big boned — (Blog Down, Chicago Bears)
- Bad news for Bears fans — (The Zoner)
- If you don’t like Jay Cutler, you’ve come to the wrong place — (Not Qualified to Comment)
- Stacy Keibler looks hot wearing a fedora, and a bikini too — (MoonDog)
- Don’t fear the Reaper, he’s probably caught in traffic – (Great Moments in Christory)
- NFL’s most overrated QBs — (Major League Jerk)
- 15 of the worst celeb songs of all-time — (Hail Mary Jane)
- The story behind some favorite cereals — (Gunaxin)
- 50 rock songs that defined the 90s — (Gunaxin)
- Keeley Hazell…UH YUMP! – (Straight Pinkie)
- 5 high school crushes, where are they now? — (Regretful Morning)
* – Cal Ripken Jr. photo credit: AstrosDaily.com