So, how does it work today? You can speak your mind, but only to a point? You can “tell it like it is,” but you better not bite the hand that feeds you? While there are often different versions of the truth, there are just times when the truth is the truth is the truth.
This is one of them.
WHAT DID REGGIE JACKSON SAY?
Jackson, talking to Sports Illustrated said, “Al’s a real good friend. But I think there are real questions about his numbers. As much as I like him, what he admitted about his usage does cloud some of his numbers.”
Well, truer words were never spoken.
As you know, A-Rod admitted using steroids for his three-year stint in Texas. His numbers, even for A-Rod, were astronomical. He played on a bad team and, even in the wear-me-down heat in Texas, put up a staggering three-year total of 156 home runs and 395 RBIs (that’s a seasonal average of 52 home runs and 132 RBIs). He won a joke MVP in 2003 (his team was terrible, but once in awhile the writers lose their minds and mistake the V in MVP for outstanding rather than valuable – see Ernie Banks and Andre Dawson, to name two others).
When A-Rod did admit his steroid use, he essentially blamed it on the “pressure” of that gigantic contract he signed with then-owner Tom Hicks and the Texas Rangers. But when you really break that down, what does that mean? Does it mean he actually stopped using steroids when he left the anonymity of Texas for the bright lights of Broadway?
Do you really believe that?
THE PROBLEM FOR A-ROD
The problem for A-Rod is the problem for every guy who admits to steroid use. Why would anyone believe the time frame that A-Rod limited his admission of use of steroids to (in this case, three years in Texas)? But, even if we take him at his word, 156 is a lot of home runs and, indeed, tainted or “cloud” or “real questions” are good words to describe A-Rod’s problems.
Where will the Hall of Fame voters go on A-Rod? Well, we will probably find out when we get to the Hall of Fame voting on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. While A-Rod will not have the legal issues that Bonds and Clemens had (and have), Bonds (for sure – 3 MVPs before he ever took a steroid according to Game of Shadows) and Clemens (arguably) had Hall of Fame careers before steroids came on the scene. A-Rod? Well, he certainly didn’t do enough in seven seasons in Seattle (no MVPs, for example) to warrant Hall of Fame consideration in his career before he took steroids.
BACK TO REGGIE
A guy who could rarely contain himself either during or after his playing career, Reggie has now been banished by the Yankees until the time is “right” for his return.
But all he did, with respect to A-Rod, is tell the truth. If somebody asked A-Rod if his Texas numbers are “questionable” or “cloud” his achievements in Texas, one would have to think that A-Rod would, to some degree, agree with that statement. How could he not?
But the truth often hurts, and, while it is hurting Reggie now, it will probably hurt A-Rod in the future.
WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER PLAYERS REGGIE SPOKE ABOUT?
Very interesting as well. There are no doubt many players in the Hall of Fame who don’t belong there. This writer is a firm believer of the old adage “If you have to think about whether a guy is a Hall of Famer or not, then he’s not.” Baseball (and other sports) should have long ago limited induction to one player per year (that way, you would never have the debate “Does he belong or not?”).
You could certainly debate whether Phil Niekro or Bert Blyleven or Don Sutton should be in the Hall of Fame. Right or wrong in terms of whether he should be in, Jackson didn’t have the class to leave Gary Carter out of the discussion (after all, the man just died).
Jim Rice is another interesting Hall of Famer. But if you go back far enough, you know first-hand that Jim Rice (not Reggie Jackson) was the most feared hitter in the AL (and arguably baseball) beginning in the late ‘70s. In this writer’s eyes, Rice was a lock Hall of Famer (and this is being written by a lifelong Yankee fan). But you heard many stories about how the writers hated Rice and, as often happens, he suffered because of some writers’ personal vendetta against him.
SO, WHERE DOES THIS LEAVE US?
Well, it leaves Reggie Jackson on the outside looking in, but only temporarily. He can speak the truth and play the fool, all in a couple of paragraphs in SI (for “Where Are They Now,” by the way. How funny is that?)
It leaves the Yankees with another (temporary) small distraction (after all, how many players feel the way Reggie does, but just would never admit it publicly?).
But it leaves A-Rod with the biggest problem of all. With his skills already deteriorating, he may or may not get to the Bonds “record.” Hopefully, he doesn’t get to the Aaron record.
Because that would be a shame.