Posts Tagged ‘MVPs


Rick Reilly Tries to Rewrite History

Rick Reilly wrote an interesting concept article the other day for ESPN where he awards MVP awards to players who were beaten out by steroid users. However, I find that he makes some ridiculous assumptions within his piece.

For example, “here’s yours from 2001, Luis Gonzalez, after you finished behind The Barry Bonds Pharmacy. We won’t even mention the home run title you would’ve won that year.” Now, while there is no tangible evidence that Gonzo used steroids, there was that spike from 31 homers in 2000 and then 2001’s 57, followed by a return to the 28 home run range that he had been in the rest of his career. But sure, we’ll assume that Gonzo did it clean.

Reilly isn’t done with picking and choosing his assumptions though, moving on to awarding Albert Pujols 3 more MVP awards saying:

[Pujols] hit .335 and averaged 41 bombs [from 2002 to 2004] and yet you finished second behind the clearly creaming Bonds in ’02 and ’03 and third behind Bonds and Adrian Beltre in ’04. We’re throwing out Beltre since, while he denies ever using PEDs, he fell off the face of the planet once baseball put in stricter steroid suspensions in 2005. If he wasn’t cheating, I’m the Queen Mother.

So, Beltre is suspect despite insisting he never used steroids and had his best year in a contract push, so immediately Reilly assumes that Beltre is guilty. Sure, that’s some sound logic.

This is what I hate about the Steroids Era, everyone is suspect, but then reporters will pick and choose who they think WASN’T using. Sure, you’ll say Luis Gonzalez is clean because he’s a nice guy, ignoring that he produced a stat-line completely out of line with any of his other career numbers. Sure, Reilly will accuse Beltre who hasn’t been listed in any steroids talk because he’s a sourpuss and not fun for reporters to talk to, but ignore a player like Ivan Rodriguez who played with all the other Rangers users, noticeably shrank in size and production and jobbed Pedro of the ’99 MVP. But oops, there I am making an assumption!

Here’s the deal, people won awards by cheating, people played in the big leagues or stayed in the big leagues through cheating, and the reason it happened was that everyone was getting paid. Reporters didn’t write the stories because interest in baseball was high and newspapers need readers. Owners didn’t press because fans were in the seats and buying foam fingers. The players didn’t care because everyone’s salaries were rising rising rising.

Now, an entire era is tainted, a whole slew of players will forever be in doubt unless there is some way to retroactively test everyone. So it goes. That unfortunately is the way it is. The only thing to do is to accept it, ensure that there is nothing going on anymore and the drugs can’t still be used. However, we can’t just pick and choose anecdotal evidence and decide who did and didn’t, it’s irresponsible, it’s unfair and it’s wrong.

Reilly should know better, I know he only has to write like 50 words but c’mon, you can do better.


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March 2023