It’s about time, but better late than never.
In the past two days Frank Robinson – one of the 20 greatest baseball players ever – and Curt Schilling – one of the best pitchers of the past 10 years – have specifically spoken out against Rafael Palmeiro, saying his statistical achievements should be erased from the record books. This is trouble for Raffy and his cohorts.
As more and more major leaguers – active and retired – continue to speak out against the guys who have been caught cheating and who have accumulated statistics under suspicious circumstances, the more likely other drug cheats will be revealed.
Schilling made a great comment when he said that he doesn’t “know (if) there’s any way to prove that anything he did was not under the influence of performance-enhancing drugs.” It’s great how the tides have turned. This suspicion of Palmeiro’s achievements is a much greater punishment than a suspension of any length.
For years there were few players – active or otherwise – who were willing to speak up and state the obvious. However, once the stats of the truly great players were being passed by the players of this generation, the silence ended.
Reggie Jackson was the first of these great players, who’s stats were overshadowed by the “Suspicious Sluggers,” to speak out when he said “You can’t be breaking records hitting 200 home runs in three or four seasons. The greatest hitters in the history of the game didn’t do that.” By the way, Reggie’s right.
Robinson – who has a well-deserved reputation as an old school, no-nonsense guy – was equally as blunt when MLB.com asked him if he would erase Palmeiro’s records, and said, “I would. He was found to have used steroids, and he served a 10-day suspension.”
Hopefully what will happen next is that there will be a movement against players who are known to have used steroids during seasons where they won awards – think Jason Giambi’s and Ken Caminiti’s MVP seasons – and those awards will be stripped and awarded to the players who were cheated out of them.
With each day will come another opportunity for players to speak out in the same manner as Jackson, Robinson and Schilling have. The drug cheats should be quaking in their cleats, for when the groundswell of opinion has swung firmly against the cheaters, those who have been caught and who are taking the disproportionate amount of heat, will surely turn in their fellow travelers. Isn’t it amazing that with every revelation Jose Canseco gains credibility while his detractors become the bad guys?
The ultimate irony will be when Rafael Palmeiro becomes the rat that he accused Jose Canseco of being.