Athletes share umbrella of suspicion

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist

I should have thrown on a DVD. It’s the only way my TV could have avoided it.

Sports channel to news channel alike, Saturday’s big news was that New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez was one of 104 players on an anonymous list to test positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.

There was only one question on my mind as I watched the news of A-Roid unfold — what’s for lunch? After our minds convicted Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and reports convicted Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield and Rafael Palmeiro, Rodriguez just seemed like the next domino. I wasn’t surprised.

The next question — what about the other 103 guys on that anonymous list? Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling wants to know.

“I’d be all for the 104 positives being named, and the game moving on if that is at all possible,” Schilling said in his “38 Pitches” blog. “In my opinion, if you don’t do that, then the other 600-700 players are going to be guilty by association, forever.”

All due respect to Schilling, but those players will be convicted by association, list or not.

If his name’s not on the list, people are going to question Andruw Jones, who put up big numbers for the Atlanta Braves and suddenly forgot how to hit once steroid testing became prevalent.

If his name’s not on the list, people are going to question Ken Griffey Jr., who grew up around the sport since his dad played, and had his body mysteriously break down in Cincinnati with small injuries.

If his name’s not on the list, people are going to question Frank Thomas, who put up Babe Ruth numbers in the 1990s and his career’s been a rollercoaster ride in the decade since.

Even the official reports on steroids come into question. The Mitchell Report was compiled by former Sen. George Mitchell, who is on a board of directors for the Boston Red Sox. I know more than a few New York Yankee fans who are forever suspicious because the Mitchell Report outs Yankees like Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, but couldn’t find anybody, anywhere who saw any Boston Red Sox players involved. Were Boston players who had career seasons protected by the Mitchell Report? I don’t think anybody would be surprised.

The unfortunate thing is, the above “evidence” is enough for some otherwise reasonable fan to conclude that Thomas, Griffey, Jones and Red Sox Nation used steroids. Anecdotal evidence will convict, and nothing will clear a player. Anybody who wants to convict a player will just argue Player X was either protected from up on high, or they were never tested. And Player X will spend their entire career trying to prove a negative.

We’re seeing the Hall of Fame votes that Mark McGwire isn’t getting, and one must assume the Baseball Writers of America Association will be consistent with the stance that you don’t get a vote if there’s any evidence you cheated. Another decade rolls around, and most of the guys under the cloud will be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

And they won’t get in. And we’ll have a year without a Hall of Fame induction. Or we’ll have a year where some undeserving player gets in the Hall because everybody else is suspected of steroids.

We might be disappointed, we might be heartbroken.

But we won’t be surprised.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: