I've wondered this: What if an individual already in the Hall of Fame admitted to using PEDs? Would that change the thinking of the voters who don't vote for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and the other implicated steroid users? Hmm, we've already elected a PED user. How can we justify keeping out Bonds and Clemens?
That hasn't happened, but former Cy Young Award winner Jack McDowell just raised this issue, telling Scot Gregor of the Daily Herald that players from his generation know PED users have already been elected to Cooperstown:
Q: You've been outspoken about suspected PED users and the Hall of Fame. Why?
A: I just think it's too bad that only the handful of guys take the brunt of it from everybody. Meanwhile, a ton of other guys were into it. You can't fix the other part, the players who (Hall of Fame voters) say are clean.
All of us who were around kind of smirk at each other. There are guys in there (HOF) already that everyone knows (weren't clean). It's part of the deal.
Unless you're going to use a lie detector on everybody, you're never going to know who did and who didn't.
McDowell pitched in the majors from 1987 through 1999, winning his Cy Young Award with the White Sox in 1993. McDowell was never one to hold back on words while an active player, so his thoughts shouldn't be viewed as bitter ex-ballplayer talk. It seems to me that McDowell is using an argument I've used before: The steroid users are a product of a generation where many players used and the sport showed no inclination to care (at least until Bonds broke the game with a string of the greatest seasons ever in his late 30s). Back in January, McDowell wrote a minor tirade directed at "arrogant" Hall of Fame voters:
This s--- was so far into the game for decades ... and still is. You will never know the extent, nor will I, nor will anyone, so stop the stupid judgments on the big five of Clemens, Bonds, Sosa, Palmiero (sic), McGwire. Am I happy I had to compete with all that? No. But the point is this ... you have NO IDEA who did or didn't and you all would probably poop your pants if you found out.
McDowell has nothing to gain here. In fact, he's just returning to professional baseball to manage the Dodgers' rookie level team in Ogden, Utah, this summer, so if anything he probably has something to gain by simply nodding his head and muttering "steroids bad."
Will his message sink in? Probably not. Voters can always lean on the rationale that they simply didn't know that they voted for a steroids user.
But that's exactly McDowell's point. It wasn't just the guys with the biggest muscles using.