The Steroid Era’s Place in Baseball History
I’ve always felt like the Steroid Era should effect the Hall of Fame in one clear, direct way: the asterisk. Instead of sorting through veiled suspicions and accusations, if a player has HOF-worthy numbers he gets voted in but if he played in the *Era* he gets an asterisk next to his name. Your opinion of whether he used PED’s determines how big that asterisk is to you. There is simply NO WAY to know who used drugs and who didn’t during the steroid era or, really, at any point in the history of the game.
Agreeing on the chronology of the era is the next step. I think many people would point to ’88-’89 as the beginning with Canseco and McGwire as a visible starting point. But an era needs to be encompassing and I don’t think steroids had taken over the league in ’88-’89. Maybe the A’s locker room. But not the league.
If you pair steroid use to power numbers then you might look to 1994 as the start of the Era. No player hit 50 home runs that year but 5 players were on pace to hit 50 before the strike ruined the season: Matt Williams, Jeff Bagwell, Frank Thomas, Albert Belle and Barry Bonds would have been the first players to hit 50 bombs since Big Fat Cecil Fielder did it in 1991. And the only player to hit 50 home runs before Fielder was George Foster in 1977. After baseball re-started themselves there were 15 players who hit 50 bombs or more from 1995 through 2002. You can point to a juiced ball or juiced bodies that was the cause of that type of power explosion. I’m going with *juiced bodies*.
After 2002 you saw major league baseball begin to slowly sludge their way towards a tangible consequence for steroid use– the survey test in 2003, their first testing program in 2004, in 2005 suspensions for failing a test as well as names getting named, and in 2005/06 there were longer suspensions (it jumped from 15 games to 50 games), the Balco scandal and the Mitchell Report.
Of course, we know players have been using steroids since then. We even had the freaking MVP of the National League get busted this year. But in terms of players willfully and without consequence using steroids, it seems that the bulk of that use occurred between 1994 through 2006.
The Dead Ball Era is generally considered to have been from 1900 through 1919 when the Black Sox lost the World Series on purpose and MLB made sweeping changes designed to generate more offense. That’s a 19 year Era.
I’m proposing a 12 year steroid era that runs from 1994-2006. Any player elected to the hall of fame who played the majority of the career during this era gets an asterisk next to his name. As a voter you can choose to vote with/without an asterisk and if the player has enough votes and the majority of those votes have the asterisk then he goes in with the asterisk. Those who visit Cooperstown can be the judge and jury of how that may taint their place in baseball history…….