Earlier today I poked fun at Jon Heyman’s Hall of Fame column which excluded people he thought cheated. Or, actually, since he wouldn’t say if he truly thought they cheated, excluded people over whom “the steroid specter” loomed. That left out Barry Bonds and that gang, of course. It also left out some people for whom there isn’t any credible public evidence of PED use.
Two of those people were Jeff Bagwell and Mike Piazza. Those guys never failed a test, be it during baseball’s testing-era or when baseball was first dipping its toe into the drug fighting water and did a survey testing program in 2003, for which there was to be and was not in fact any punishment. They were not named in the Mitchell Report, BALCO, Biogenesis or any other public investigation. The entire case against Bagwell and Piazza is based on reporters sharing stories with one another that they either cannot or will not print.
Another one he left off, however, was Sammy Sosa. Unlike Bagwell and Piazza, Sosa has one public black mark on him: his name was leaked as allegedly one of the 104 players (give or take) who tested positive during the 2003 survey testing. His presence on that list was never confirmed by Major League Baseball or the MLBPA, as each party has sworn itself to secrecy regarding the 2003 survey tests and, in fact, may no longer even possess those lists, making confirmation impossible. The only place it was reported that Sosa failed the survey test was in the New York Times who, if one were to make a reasonably educated guess based on what was being reported and by whom at the time, got its information from a crusading IRS/FDA agent who had his own set of issues.
So, based on this — and ignoring for a moment that a mere three years ago Heyman had no problem voting for Barry Bonds of all people, and made a full-throated endorsement of Bonds’ Hall of Fame candidacy — it is clear that Heyman has become a steroid stickler. Not only are you off his ballot if you tested positive, even in a non-binding survey test, you’re off if Heyman even suspects you used based on hearsay.
All of which makes one wonder when Heyman will repudiate what he wrote about David Ortiz just over a year ago. After noting Ortiz’s failure of the survey test — an offense just like Sammy Sosa’s and less than that of Bagwell and Piazza — Heyman says this:
The case against Ortiz otherwise remains thinner than Clay Buchholz, especially compared to some other big stars . . . Some Hall of Fame voters will exclude players with any link to steroids, no matter how strong that link is, but in this case it fairly boils down to one un-sourced report involving a test for survey purposes.
Is that enough to exclude? Not here it isn’t.
Cooperstown it is.
What a difference a year makes. Care to comment, Jon?