Great Moments in Steroids Derp

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This story at ABC News is correct to note that, if it wasn’t for the 2005 PED hearings in Congress, far less attention would’ve been paid to the matter. I mean, yes, Jose Canseco’s book and Ken Caminiti’s comments in interviews really started things, but the Congressional hearings did go a long way in helping form public opinion on the matter.

For worse, I’d argue — baseball had already started its drug testing program at the time, the Congressional hearings were not really in Congress’ bailiwick and the public opinion that has been forged is, almost always, ill-informed and reactionary — but they did have an effect.

But there’s one thing those hearings did not do:

The Baseball Hall of Fame will add six new members to its ranks at this weekend’s ceremony in Cooperstown. Three superstar players and three brilliant managers – all of whom were active and clean of drug allegations during some of baseball’s darkest days – will get their plaques.

Though the now-famous congressional hearings drew criticism at the time, it’s quite possible baseball wouldn’t see a moment like this if not for Congress. The March 2005 session on steroids in baseball served as a wake-up call for baseball to clean itself up, ultimately opening the doors for the players who were clean during a tainted era to gain election to the Hall, according to ESPN baseball analyst Tim Kurkjian.

If you have an argument that Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa wouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame but for the PEDs story becoming a big one, I’d really like to hear it.

Heck, here’s a better argument: if the PED issue had not been blown up and used for so much grandstanding, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafael Palmeiro would be in the Hall, as would Bonds, Clemens, Bagwell and Biggio. With those off the ballot, other worthy candidates like Mike Mussina and Curt Schilling would have more votes and may be in now already.

Jonny Venters is still pitching

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Lefty reliever Jonny Venters was among a handful of players the Rays signed to minor league contracts, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports.

Venters, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2012 and has logged just 27 2/3 innings in the minors in the meantime due to a continuous battle with his elbow. According to David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Venters has undergone four — four! — Tommy John surgeries.

When he was healthy, Venters was a fearsome late-game option for the Braves. He posted a 1.95 ERA with 93 strikeouts in 83 innings in 2010, and a 1.84 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 88 innings in 2011. His first-half performance in 2011 earned him a spot on the National League All-Star roster.

Venters has spent the last two years in the Rays’ system and he’ll try to make it a third.