The Other Side of the Steroid Issue
People all over the baseball world are called the 90s and 2000s the “Steroid Era,” and with good reason.
With 89 players mentioned in the 2007 Mitchell Report and a reported 103 others who failed the 2003 test that lead to Alex Rodriguez’s name being leaked out, it makes sense that this will go down in history as a black mark on baseball.
Historians are calling for records to be erased from those whose names are listed on the Mitchell report, and fathers all over the country are trying to explain to their young children why some players shouldn’t be looked upon as heroes after all.
But there are other victims in the Steroid Scandal, victims that should be recognized… pitchers.
Now, while 13 pitchers did appear in the Mitchell Report, most notably Roger Clemens, pitchers generally stayed away from steroids for a few reasons.
First, pitchers don’t need to bulk up the way that hitters do. Think of the transformation of such batters as Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi, both listed in the Mitchell Report. Their bodies went from lean, mean athletic machines, to rock solid, enormous creatures. That bulk would hamper a pitcher’s ability to throw with a fluid motion and get the ball over the plate.
Secondly, steroids helped players recoup faster, in order to play back-to-back games, or 5 games in a given week. Pitchers have the luxury of built in recuperation as part of their routine. Starting pitchers only pitch once every five games and relief men, normally only pitch an inning or two and for the most part don’t really even pitch back-to-back nights. If they do, you can usually see them resting the following few games.
So, if we established, based on the Mitchell report, that only a small minority of pitchers juiced, then the question begs to be answered…. If we are going to take away some historic records, shouldn’t pitchers have the luxury of getting more realistic, lower ERAs?
If it is a forgone conclusion that hitters such as Bonds and Raffy Palmero used steroids, then at least some of their combined 1345 homeruns were tainted. One could argue that without the benefit of steroids, at least a good handful of these homeruns would have fallen short of the fence, and consequently the pitcher of record wouldn’t have been credited with giving up the runs. You could then go further to say that had they not given up those tainted homeruns, they might have stayed in the game longer, thus increasing their Ks.
So, not only are the offensive statistics stained because of the steroid era, but unbeknownst to some of the pitchers, their records should be better than advertised.
If I were a pitcher in the major leagues during that time, and had an outside shot of getting into the Hall, I would call up the reporters who vote and make sure they understand that, even though I had a, say, 4.00 ERA, I pitched when guys were juiced and survived virtually unscathed.
Hopefully they will understand.