Scooby-Doo and the case of the “Steroid Specter”

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Earlier today I said that some Hall of Fame voters will seek to protect the children from evil steroid-doers and others will dissemble or imply wrongdoing they can’t prove or what have you. Jon Heyman has become an expert at the form. Here are three guys he is not voting for. Because they’re “under review”:

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He also notes that there is “varying degrees of smoke” about some of these guys.

Heyman is maybe the most-connected baseball reporter in all of Christendom and has had 20+ years with these guys, but they’re “under review.” I guess the “steroid specter” — which I am pretty sure was the bad guy in a “Scooby-Doo” back in the day — needs more investigation. Maybe if Heyman and his colleagues engage in some more “You think Bagwell was ‘roiding?” “Oh, sure, definitely” chatter they’ll get to the bottom of it.

But I do love Heyman’s overarching defense here. It’s basically “hey, we need to be fair! Let’s not just presume that one random player did drugs without evidence. Let’s presume that A LOT OF THEM DID!”

There are fair reasons to be suspicious in some cases, from quotes supportive of steroid guys to physiological changes so extreme they’re tough to ignore to other issues that paint a fuller picture. As for folks who claim it “un-American” not to presume innocence, well, this isn’t a court of law, and the standard for Cooperstown is reasonably lower. While we’re at it, a question for some of those folks: Why is it OK to presume Sammy Sosa’s involvement but not Mike Piazza’s or Jeff Bagwell’s? None of the three has been proven to have taken steroids by any evidentiary measure.

Answer from this folk: it’s not OK to presume anyone’s involvement absent evidence. But I suppose that’s quaint.

Finally there’s Heyman’s reference to Sammy Sosa’s “bad testimony,” referring to the time ten years ago when Sosa and others were called before Congress and Sosa chose to testify in his native language. I’ve written about that at length in the past, but let’s refresh our memories here and note that anyone who thinks that Sosa’s choice to testify in Spanish was wrong or suspicious or questionable is a complete and utter idiot who would never, ever take the chance that they wanted Sosa to take in front of Congress. And I say that fully believing that, yes, Sosa was trying to put one over on people in front of Congress.

I’d have more respect for Heyman if he simply said that in his evidence-free opinion — or based on the gossip he and other baseball writers freely share — he thinks Jeff Bagwell and those guys took PEDs. Don’t pretend you’re waiting for some clarity. Don’t put it all on some “specter” that allows you to claim this is coming from anyone other than yourself. Don’t cite some totally reasonable and innocuous thing like someone testifying under oath in their native language as a pretext. Just say “I think that guy is a cheater because I think he’s a cheater.” Be honest, for Pete’s sake.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.