And Pearlman’s counter:
Joe blames some of us (and I’m among the us) for speculating that Jeff Bagwell cheating by using PED? Well, what the hell are we supposed to think? A. Have you seen the photographs of a young Jeff Bagwell, first as a prospect in the Boston system, then with the Astros as a pup? He looks, perhaps not coincidentally, like a young Jason Giambi; like a young Barry Bonds; like a young Sammy Sosa; like a young Bret Boone. I know … I know—people gain weight as they get older. And, hey, he lifted! And used natural, over-the-counter supplements!And … enough. I’ve heard enough. Seriously, look at the guy as an in-his-prime Astro. Dude looks like Randy (Macho Man) Savage. And while I can already hear the “Just because he had muscles atop muscles doesn’t mean anything” argument brewing, well, it does—in the context of a sport overrun by cheaters—mean something. In fact, it means a lot.
I left the links in the blockquotes above because those links sent me on a multi-hour Google search exercise. My goal: To show that just because a player is larger at 35 than they were at 20 does not automatically mean that chemicals were used. Some players, as you will see, barely changed, while others have gotten much larger. I tried to pull a vast sampling of players from the late 1980’s through today, using their rookie baseball cards (if possible) and their most recent cards (again, if possible). Again, the point of this exercise is to illustrate that you cannot simply ascribe innocence or guilt just by looking at a player, or remembering what they used to look like as rookies contrasted to their appearances during their prime or later years. Some of the selections below included accused/admitted PED users. Others below have no PED asterisk tacked to their chest, as far as I know. Some have had hints and rumors. It’s a vast array.
The point is, to me, that the late 1980’s through 2005-ish is just another era in baseball. Like the deadball era. Like the 1950’s-1980’s when amphetamines and recreational drugs were incredibly prevalent but largely glossed over by history and historians. It is up to us, the fans, to color this era as we see fit. The HOF is a museum and through a random and inconsistently applied selection process, the BBWAA are doing fans a disservice. Elect the best players of the era and let us decide who we want to cheer the most for or who we want to cast aside. If nothing else, the inclusion of “guilty” players will help us in recognizing the problems of the era and what to watch out for as the game rolls forward.
Now, onto the fun part, Young vs. Old: