Hank Aaron: Asterisks For Cheaters
Hank Aaron has announced that he would tolerate steroids users who are voted into the Hall of Fame if there is an asterisk on their plaques. The asterisks would denote that the player had been linked to steroids during or after their career had ended.
Sooner or later Hall of Fame voters are going to start voting the cheaters into the Hall of Fame. Personally I hope that day never comes but it is inevitable that it will happen someday in the future.
So why not have an asterisk on their plaques? As much as the players would detest having the asterisk on their plaque they would detest even more not being in the Hall of Fame.
MLB and the Player’s Union even gave the cheater’s a license to cheat in 2003 so they are as much to blame as the players. They in effect told the players you can cheat this one year without any fear of being suspended.
That is why so many players used steroids that season. Bud Selig and Don Fehr had given their blessing so there was no reason not to cheat.
Twenty players hit 34 or more homers in 2003. Alex Rodriguez led the majors with 47 homers and was tied with Jim Thome of the Phillies.
Barry Bonds was second and tied with Richie Sexson of the Mariners with 45.
Javy Lopez and Albert Pujols were tied for third with 43 homers each. I have only stats to go by but the Lopez stats that year were too abnormal to not think he may have used steroids that season.
In 2002 he hit 11 homers and drove in 52 runs. He hit .233 his major league low at the time. His OBP was .299, his slugging percentage was .372 and had an OPS of .670.
Then all of a sudden in 2003 he hits 43 homers and drives in 109 runs and hits .328 his major league high in a full season. The effects of steroids on batting averages has been debated for years but the steroids still must have made him a more confident hitter and thereby a more effective hitter for average.
He had 26 extra base hits in 2002 but astoundingly had 75 extra base hits in 2003.
His other percentage stats showed huge increases from the 2002 season to the 2003 season:
If and when the names of the players that tested positive for steroids in 2003 is released I expect the name of Javy Lopez to be on that list.
This is only circumstantial evidence but clearly his stats for 2003 are completely out of line from the year before and earlier in his career.
Looking even more suspicious was the fact that his numbers in 2004 plummeted back to earth. He batted 122 more times in his first season with the Orioles after being signed as a free agent but he hit only 23 homers a decline of 20 homers despite the extra at bats.
All his percentage based numbers dropped from his 2003 stats in 2004. Lopez would hit only 46 more homers combined the rest of his career during 2004, 2005 and 2006 and was released by the Red Sox before the end of the 2006 season.
Nine of the top 20 home run hitters in 2003 have been linked to steroids or had questionable stats that were out of line with the rest of their career in 2003.
Hank Aaron says some of the other Hall of Famers may be less tolerant of steroids cheaters than him. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bob Feller leave the stage during a cheater’s speech if he lives long enough to see a steroids linked player enshrined into the Hall of Fame and I would support him if he were to do that.
An asterisk may come to be known as a sign of a cheater in the Hall of Fame which would be much cheaper than to build a special wing for the cheaters.
It would be better to have an asterisk on the plaque of the players who used performance enhancers than to enshrine them with no asterisk and risk having them confused with the real heroes of baseball like Aaron who had to endure racial taunts as a player.
No other player pursuing a record will have to endure what Aaron did in 1973 and 1974 when he was close to breaking the lifetime home run record of Babe Ruth and breaking it in April of 1974.
This is only a small example of what Aaron faced while attempting to pass Ruth as evidenced by this portion of an undated ESPN article:
The chase to beat the Babe heated up in the summer of 1973. So did the mail. Aaron needed a secretary to sort it as he received more than an estimated 3,000 letters a day, more than any American outside of politics. Unfortunately, racists did much of the writing. A sampling:
“Dear Nigger Henry,
You are (not) going to break this record established by the great Babe Ruth if I can help it. … Whites are far more superior than jungle bunnies. . My gun is watching your every black move.”
“Dear Henry Aaron,
How about some sickle cell anemia, Hank?”
So this makes me listen even more to what Aaron has to say about the cheaters so if he says we need asterisks to differentiate between the cheaters and those who played with their natural God given ability then I am on the side of Hank Aaron.