THE PED HALL OF FAME DRAFT
A few weeks ago, Hall of Fame second baseman and notoriously bad color commentator Joe Morgan wrote a letter to Hall of Fame voters begging them not to vote for players linked to performance enhancing drugs. He called these players cheaters and said they had no place in the sacred and prestigious Hall that he had worked so hard to enter. If they were to join the ranks of the womanizers, racists, and cheaters in Cooperstown, it would taint its pristine nature.
Joe Morgan was a great baseball player and he has every right to voice his opinion on whether or not players that used steroids belong in the HOF. We're not here to debate whether or not they do (we think they do, for the record), but rather something that we always love to do — delve in hypotheticals.
Let's say that 20-30 years down the road MLB commissioner Derek Jeter decides that these steroid users that he played alongside deserve their own special wing in Cooperstown. Every baseball writer gets to pick who gets enshrined similar to a fantasy draft, except that there are only two baseball writers left because the average attention span of .2 seconds in 2027 is not suitable for the pace of baseball. You guessed it, those two writers are us here at Lampin'. We chose 10 players who belong to be in the inaugural class of the PED Hall of Fame, based on talent, steroid use, and general likability (much to Morgan's chagrin, the standards of being named a Hall of Famer has declined by now).
NOTE: We are hereby assuming that the following players are guilty of PED use. This is in accordance with baseball pundits, not the justice system.
There was a period of time where Alex Rodriguez was my favorite baseball player. I looked up to Jeter the most, but if I had chance to watch A-Rod play I was taking it. When he came to the Yankees — my favorite team — I was ecstatic (shouts Mos Def).
The man was practically a god, with forearms the size of calves and calves the size of an F-150. He was a quintessential five-tool player with model-esque looks and (to this day) the swaggiest batting stance of all time.
But that wasn't enough for him. The man who had to please everyone, who needed to be loved, needed more talent than the seemingly infinite amount that he possessed. Rodriguez denied steroid use in a 2007 interview on 60 Minutes, which, by the way is the worst attempt at lying I've ever seen — he clearly nods yes when saying no. Anyone that's watched Lie to Me knows that is the oldest lie trick in the book. But that's besides the point.
A few years later it was revealed that Rodriguez in fact used PEDs during his MVP season in Texas and his absurd 2009 playoff run in which the Yankees went on to win the World Series (27 rings baby).
Unlike everyone (save for Bonds) on this list, A-Rod would have been a HOF lock even had he not juiced, which is why he makes it on to this list.
First off, this picture of Slammin' Sammy looking like Handsome Shrek hitting a dab is probably the greatest picture on the Internet right now.
Anyways, Sosa, most known for his epic '99 home run duel with fellow 'roider Mark McGwire, has probably benefited the most from steroids out of anyone on this list. If you take a look at his numbers from early in his career, they're terrible. Now I'm not saying it's impossible for a player to make an adjustment late in his career to find success — just look at Jose Bautista or J.D. Martinez — but those numbers are so far off from where he was at his peak. I don't want to get into the numbers any further because all you need to do is check out his Baseball Reference page and see for yourself.
Sosa went on to play the "me no speaky English" routine and had his lawyers read his statement denying steroid use at the notorious 2005 congressional hearing — you know, the one where Rafael Palmiero said, "I have never used steroids, period," before getting popped for a failed test months later.
Besides the skin bleaching weirdness, Sosa had one of the greatest home run pimps of all time, and, there was really no way I could leave him off my ballot after seeing that picture.
Every man, woman, and child that has watched at least one Gary Sheffield at bat has tried to impersonate his iconic batting stance. I have absolutely zero evidence for this, but I know it to be 100 percent true. Looking back on it now, the forearm strength needed to propel a 32-ounce bat with such violence could only be produced with the aid of PEDs.
Much like his bat wiggle, Shef's bat speed was the stuff of legend. One of my favorite hypothetical situations I've pictured is what I'd do if I was playing third base when Sheffield was up. I'd put myself halfway into left field in order to avoid a screamer to the neck. If it was an infield in situation, without question I'd fake an ankle injury and ask for a sub. There's absolutely no way you're playing on the grass for Sheff — which is close enough to feel the breeze from his absurdly vicious bat wiggle.
Shef is a member of the prestigious 500 home run club, but his stance alone makes him a unanimous selection for the PED Hall
Let's take things back to '04. At this point, Manny has cemented himself as one of the greatest right-handed hitters in baseball history, and his hobbies — along with his teammate David Ortiz — included breaking my heart.
The '04 ALCS, also known as the worst playoff series of all time, saw Manny and Big Papi almost singlehandedly (or doublehandedly?) crush the Bronx Bombers in one of the most improbable comebacks in any sport ever. Along with my longtime compadre Davey Cash aka Cashmoney Moolah aka KeeshKash Jones aka 24 Hour Lit-ness, there was no worse fear than either Red Sox slugger coming to the plate in any situation.
You can count the amount of hitters who could strike a fear like that on your hand, and in today's pitching dominant atmosphere it's almost unheard of (although Jose Altuve comes pretty close after his fucking absurd playoff run). That fear, plus his signature antics makes Manny a lock for the PED Hall.
I mean, that highlight video is pure entertainment. The play where he cuts off Johnny Damon has to be the most ridiculous play ever made on a baseball field.
The Great Giambino didn't make the HOF because of his talent or his numbers — both are relatively average compared to the others previously listed. Instead, Giambi is here because of his character. That's right, the PED Hall of Fame takes that into account as well and it's just as selectively used as the original goody-two-shoes Hall in Cooperstown.
One of the few PED users to be painted in a positive light by many fans, Giambi threw out the denial and lies that so often alienated his fellow roiders and came right out and admitted to using the juice.
Giambi's character arc throughout his career is fascinating. From perennial MVP candidate with the Athletics, to what some labeled a free agent bust with the Yankees, to valuable veteran with the Indians, the experience accrued in Giambi's career would perhaps make him a good candidate for a manager. That paired with being the oldest player to hit a walk off home run lands him a place in Newark (yeah, not as prestigious as Cooperstown, but what do you expect, these guys used steroids).
Hailing from Montreal, Quebec, Eric Gagne’s ascent to MLB superstardom could not have had less precedent. The cold, wet, French-speaking Canadian city is hardly a hotspot for baseball talent, much less Cy Young caliber arms. And Gagne, portly and bespectacled, would at first sight seem more comfortable in a hard hat tinkering with telephone lines than on the hill in Chavez Ravine.
Initially a starter, Gagne was moved to the bullpen after three mediocre seasons. From 2002-04, however, Gagne would go on to claim the title of baseball’s best closer, perhaps the best pitcher period. In 2003, Gagne became just the ninth closer to win the prestigious Cy Young honor, still the only one to do so in the 21st century.
During this Herculean stretch, Gagne notched 152 saves, blowing just six opportunities during this period. He set the record for consecutive saves (84) that spanned across the three golden years, highlighted by a perfect 2003 campaign. Gagne’s pitch arsenal largely consisted of two pitches, not uncommon for a closer — his fastball reached speeds of 101 MPH, and his deadly changeup moved from corner to corner, leaving opposing hitters with their best guess with two strikes.
Gagne, or “Game Over” as he was rightfully dubbed by Dodger faithful, would not enjoy unimpeded success for long. A second Tommy John surgery in 2005 put a screeching halt to one of baseball’s most mesmerizing talents. Relying on his mythical past to perpetuate his career, Gagne signed lucrative deals with the Rangers, Red Sox (acquired through free agency), and Brewers. Never to replicate his former glory, No. 38 (how very Canadian of you, Eric) battled through various injuries before finally admitting defeat to Mother Nature in the spring of 2010, after a final grasp at redemption in Dodger blue.
In the infamous Mitchell report of 2007, Gagne was listed as one of the players administered steroids, much to the chagrin of the Dodgers organization. He dealt with the allegations as clumsily as many of his counterparts, unsure of how to proceed in the wake of such Nixonian chaos. Gagne’s success, after all, came at the peak of the HGH epidemic in baseball. His success was representative of the potential benefits of PED usage, taking a lackluster but promising talent and morphing him into a bonafide superstar.
While steroids are generally thought of as spinach for Popeye-esque power hitters, the regenerative elements of HGH undoubtedly allowed Gagne to consistently flirt with triple digit velocity on a nightly basis and ward off elbow problems that plagued him before and after his historic run.
In a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Gagne at long last copped to his PED usage, lamely citing a knee injury as the impetus for his choice.
Few have truly embraced the epoch of the Roidin’ 90’s quite like Ken did. He could have been the poster boy, but for the fact that a poster may have been be counterintuitive to the whole secretive cheating thing.
Caminiti arrived to the Bigs in 1987, a three-sport standout from Central California. Physically, he boasted none of the superhuman attributes that he would later acquire. The beat cop arm hair, furniture deliveryman forearms, and father of six calves were all gained through hard work and dedication to the game. Right?
Surprisingly enough, he had a bit of help. At the age of 30, Caminiti must have decided he wanted more for himself than being a trading card of no real near significance nor one of frustrated dismissiveness. No longer, he thought, will I be one of those working class guys that a manager sticks in the six hole and oozes over his fielding prowess when asked about his 2-52 slump.
While we may never become privy to the date of his first injection, it would be fair to assume that his cycling days began around ’94, seven years into a a tremendously average body of work. His career took on a more promising tone after an All-Star selection and .283 average. He was traded to the Padres in ’95, and thus began his testosterone-assisted heyday. All of the sudden, his power numbers skyrocketed and he took on the appearance of what one would guess to be a run-of-the-mill 90’s male stripper. Perhaps his greatest athletic feat came in the field, when he unleashed a 90+ MPH throw from the seat of his pants after snatching a scorching one-hopper down the third base line.
As someone who has played competitive baseball with (relatively) clean blood, the mix of pure jealousy/amazement I feel towards this play is unmatched. It defies any sort of logic, and at least two of Newton’s laws. Caminiti’s gorilla-man hybrid reached its apex in 1996, boasting a stat line of .326/40/130. Tack on another MVP award for BALCO.
A few solid years followed, and after that, a handful of weak ones. The roid life narrative was never much for variation after all. The real tragedy of Ken’s life came in 2004, three years after his departure from the game. He was rushed to the hospital for a cardiac arrest due to ingestion of a speedball, a mix of heroin and cocaine. He died some days later, survived by his three daughters. It would be only sensible to attribute steroidal regret to his drug usage, but Caminiti was candid about his PED days, stating that it was not something he considered to be a mistake for it led to good things for both his family and teams. We at Lampin’ respect this honesty when facing unavoidable public shame, and therefore, we gladly induct him into the Steroid HOF. RIP.
For Lenny “Nails” Dykstra a needle to the butt ranks impossibly low on a rap sheet as long as his invoice from the federal government. Given the erratic and irrational behavior he was prone to, it would come as a complete shock if he had not been another statistic of the steroid epidemic.
With that being said, Lenny was one of the best to ever roid. Constantly testing the elasticity of his cheek with a gigantic chaw, Lenny played the game as hard as Pete Rose and as dirty as Charlie Rose. In his MVP runner-up season of 1993, he led the league all walks, in part due to his hired investigations into the private lives of umpires. He had dirt dug up on them (gay sex, gambling) to hold over their heads in order to get a more friendly strike zone.
As a constant critic of self-improvement through hard work, I can fully appreciate manipulating one’s externalities. Lenny always had a different approach to life’s obstacles, be it in baseball or his numerous post-career business ventures. After his 12-year career concluded, Dykstra stumbled into a number of financial opportunities on the back of his name and persona: a carwash franchise, a jet charter company, a real estate development company, and a few of those “I Sold It on eBay” stores (no word if one of them belonged to Trish from 40-Year-Old-Virgin).
Long story short, they all failed, and Dykstra was defaulting on loans left and right. Touted by Mad Money's Jim Cramer as “one of the greats” in finance, Dykstra had become a wild wrecking ball of commerce. At one point in 2008, Nails was estimated to be worth in the neighborhood of $58 million. Just a year later, he filed bankruptcy, leaning a measly $50,000 in assets against a towering $10-50 million in liabilities. You win some and you lose some, eh Cramer? It turns out that not paying people you owe and a lack of moral compass can lead you astray after all. Lenny spent the next few years in and out of court and prison, and currently resides with his ex-wife, who assures the media she has no plans to remarry.
While Lenny’s off-field exploits draw a few more eyes than his career specs, he was nonetheless a devil on the diamond. During his incredible ’90 campaign, he notched a .418 OBP with 33 stolen bases. Lenny was adherent to “work hard, play harder”, a phrase that many people use to justify poor behavior. He knew how to solidify a clubhouse, though. He told Dan Patrick that everyone knew that his pennant-winning ’93 Phillies partied harder than anyone, with unnamed players taking unnamed drugs throughout the course of the season.
While Lenny may not be a model citizen, this isn’t exactly a devotion to the saints of baseball. Lenny made baseball exciting, a rare quality in a ballplayer. If you want to know more about his legendary demise, check out his memoir, House of Nails. If Lenny’s financial destitution gives you some sort of sick satisfaction, however, you can also check out his chock-full Wikipedia page…as I did.
And be sure to look out for Dykstra’s son, a minor league hopeful. His name, prepare yourself, is Cutter. Just as notably, he is married to Jamie-Lynn Sigler, who portrayed Meadow on The Sopranos.
Or should I say The Rocket. Talk about a nickname like that will inextricably change the course of your life. Once you’re “The Rocket”, there are certain expectations that must be met to assuage the sporting world.
That kind of pressure loaded into such a quintessential nickname would make even the most stoic man crumble. But then again, there was never a stoic The Rocket. Roger Clemens was everything his nicknamed meant connotatively and more.
Obviously affected by Gary Busey’s Chet “The Rocket” Steadman in Rookie of the Year, Clemens swore to himself that he would not accept age’s warm embrace like the Cubs’ beloved ace. The 7-time Cy Young Award Winner is a tough omission when it comes to the top five pitchers of all time, save for a few Puritans who will annoyingly pepper in a few asterisks when a PED user is being discussed.
Clemens greeted his allegations in the Mitchell Report with a Daytime Emmy-caliber “shocked and hurt” denial, despite having as much evidence stacked against him as climate changer deniers. The one fallback that Clemens’ could have used to his advantage to explain his relatively negligible gain in weight over the course of his career. Always of above average build, Roger could pack on the pounds while attributing his change in appearance to putting on “dad weight”. He was, after all, well into his 40’s during the tail end of his career’s peak.
The weird part of Clemens’ legacy preservation technique was that he claimed that steroids didn’t necessarily increase performance. Clemens maintains that his fellow cheaters in the league got better through “hard work”, just like he did. If they really did do steroids, then we can just chalk their beefed up numbers to the placebo effect and wash our hands of it.
Despite being one of the worst liars in the Hall, Clemens accomplishments speak for themselves. 364 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, just ridiculous numbers.
I just want to go on record as saying that Barry is the greatest baseball player to ever live. He is the only member of the 500 HR/500 SB club, let alone the 400/400 club.
His 688 intentional walks are more than triple than those of Willie Mays, who is second on the all-time list. Twelve MVP’s, seven Silver Sluggers, the list of accolades goes on. As a Giants fan, it took me longer than most to come with the grips that the godlike figure may have had a little help. I consider it one of my greatest coming-of-age struggles.
Before coming to grips with the undeniable truth, I adopted a slew of tricky legal jargon that exonerated my hero: “He never failed a drug test”, “never once did he knowingly take a banned substance”, etc. All I know is that I wanted to the Splash Hits to keep coming, and goshdarnit I was going to do whatever I could to keep his reputation afloat.
As I matured, the before and after pictures began to take their toll on my blossoming rational faculties. Every notion of honor and nobility I had came crashing down on me as great sluggers league-wide went down. The stages of grief washed over my already pissed off pubescent mind and body. I was like Paul from All Quiet, disillusioned to no end and facing a horrific reality with no solace to be found.
In the end, Barry’s story became the foundation for my wider take on PEDs. We must accept, even cherish, an era in baseball when when unconfined dishonesty and covert rule-breaking resulted in the best on-field product in the history of the game. Regular men became gods with the durability and strength of any number of Billy Mays-endorsed products. Careers were propped up and families were fed. Owners popped champagne in celebration of their bottom lines. And we on the couch were put into a daze by a flurry of moon shot home runs. Finding out about the steroid epidemic was like being a Scooby Doo villain: all goes smoothly until those kids (or loudmouth trainers) start meddling.
Bonds has yet to be voted into the real Hall of Fame, but he’s a first ballot guy in ours. It is our opinion that it is a travesty that Bonds has yet to join baseball’s finest. Voters seem to be bent on making an example out of No. 25, a cautionary tale to any tempted to bend the rules. In their indignation, they are effectually making a mockery out of baseball’s most cherished fraternity by exempting one of the best to ever do it, steroids or no steroids.