Jim Caple is a Hall of Fame voter. Remember that when you read this snippet from a debate between Caple and fellow ESPN baseball writer Jerry Crasnick, where the two debate the HOF candidacy of Mark McGwire:
Crasnick: I’m afraid of saying “yes” on a guy like McGwire only to regret my decision later. Does that make sense?
Caple: Yes, it does, though really, I don’t know what we’re going to find out at this point. I mean, they weren’t specifically banned by baseball at the time. And to me, that makes all the difference. (And no, just being an illegal drug isn’t the same thing as being banned. For one thing, I believe a lot of players who took illegal drugs are in the Hall of Fame.) [italics are mine]
Good point Jim. Except that steroids were banned at the time.
MLB banned steroids in 1991. You should know that, Jim. It’s your job to know that.
Here is a history lesson, courtesy of Houston Chronicle baseball writer Richard Justice:
Commissioner Fay Vincent sent the clubs a memo in 1991 reminding them that players were forbidden from taking any illegal substance. He specifically mention steroids in the memo and encouraged the clubs to take a get-tough policy on players thought to be using steroids.What could a team have done if it suspected a player of using steroids? Probably nothing.Vincent simply wanted to be on the record as letting the clubs know that steroid use was against the rules and that they shouldn’t be afraid to confront a player.There was no testing for steroids until 2003 (after being part of the 2002 labor agreement).The notion that Bonds wasn’t breaking any rules is ridiculous. He was. He knew he was.
So there you go, Jim. Steroids have been BANNED and ILLEGAL since 1991.
But, hey, that means that for the first five years of his career, McGwire was (probably) merely taking illegal substances. But nothing banned, God forbid.
You know, the truth is I find a lot of Caple’s writing funny. But when he goes and writes things that demonstrate a lack on understanding of the game, it just makes it that much harder to stomach the omissions of Keith Law and Rob Neyer from the BBWAA.
PS. If you want to read a really good debate, check out the give and take between Gammons and Stark on the merits of Tim Raines’ HOF candidacy.