On ESPN.com Insider today
, Joe Morgan uses the current steroids controversy to argue on behalf of his good friend and convicted felon Pete Rose. That's a good thing for the Vice-Chairman of the Baseball Hall of Fame to be doing, right?"I've made this statement before and I stand by it: If any baseball player gets caught taking steroids after what major-league baseball went through in the offseason -- the bad publicity, the congressional hearings, all the criticism of players by fans and the media -- it shows he doesn't have any respect for the game.If a player has respect for the game, he won't continue to engage in behavior that tarnishes the game. Everyone has been given sufficient warning about steroid testing, so anyone who tests positive has only himself to blame.
>>Oooooh, sounds like Joe's got his dander up about this one. He's said it before, and he stands by it, gash darn it! Respect the game! Come on, Joe! Let Raffy have it!"I'm extremely disappointed that Rafael Palmeiro has tested positive for steroids. I've always liked Palmeiro, and I've always had a lot of respect for him because of where he came from and what he's gone through.
>>Wait. What about "respect for the game?" Come on, Joe! Focus up! You can do it! Anger! Arrrrgh!"He came to the United States from Cuba, and he had a hard time getting his brother out of Cuba. When Palmeiro was with the Rangers, his brother was at a "Sunday Night Baseball" game in Texas shortly after he was able to come to the U.S., and I was part of the broadcast team. I've always remembered that story, and I've appreciated Palmeiro as a player and as a person.
>>Joe? You still there? Let's get back on track, guy. This is Rafael Palmeiro, fer crissakes! You remember, the guy that just tested positive for steroids? Remember when you said if a guy did that "it shows he has no respect for the game?" I mean, I'm sure it was touching when you and his brother went to the same baseball game, but come on Joe. Remember what you said earlier about "respect" and "the game?""A big part of me hopes there has been some mistake, that Palmeiro is not guilty.
>>Oh my god, we've lost him inside his own brain. Joe? Can you hear me? What happened to that statement that you made before that you were going to stand by? The one about if a player gets caught after all the stuff baseball went through, he doesn't respect the game? Aw, forget it."If the positive test is true and the appeals hearing was fair -- and it appears they were -- I don't have any sympathy for him.
>>Way to take a stand there, Joe. Youe conviction is so strong, I'm actually a little scared. Take it down a notch, buddy; you're liable to blow a gasket!"Palmeiro's positive test raises issues for the Hall of Fame (I serve as the Hall's vice chairman).
>>This is off-topic, but since Joe reminds us he's the Hall's vice-chairman, this seems like a good place to talk about this. Did Joe Morgan really boycott this year's ceremony because he wasn't cool with Sandberg getting in? I know it's all hearsay, but if it's true, what an unbelievable baby. For the record, Joe said he couldn't go because of a "prior family commitment." That could be true, but I find it odd that Joe's family would schedule something on the one day of the year where Joe would look kinda bad if he didn't show up. Just a thought."I will say this: If we're going to let players who used steroids into the Hall of Fame, then we have to let Pete Rose in -- because what Rose did hasn't harmed the game as much as the steroids scandal has.
>>Ahhh, here it is. I knew we could count on Joe to say something Morganny at some point in this column and this is it. The idea that steroids harming the game more than gambling is, quite frankly, wicked dumb. Let's think about this.
On one hand you have players artificially enhancing their bodies so that they can be better at the game. It is cheating, to be sure, and not defensible in any way. However. No team ever suffered for a player taking steroids and hitting 15 more homeruns in a particular season. If anything, the whole reason this steroids mess has gotten so out of hand is because teams were unwilling to admit what was so hulkingly, pimply, and erratically staring them in the face. And don't tell me about players breaking down after long periods of steroid use. That happens, but not until after they post three consecutive 60 HR seasons.
On the other hand, you have a player/manager betting on games in which they are participating.
This is the thing that gets players banned for life, and has for the last 100+ years. It is the one cardinal sin of the game, posted in every clubhouse on every level of professional baseball. Steroids didn't even become illegal in this country until 1991, and it took until last season to start rigorously testing for them in baseball (and a lot of people would say they aren't even testing that rigorously).
Pete Rose has said that he never bet against his team, and that may be true. But didn't he also spend 15 years saying he never bet on the game at all? And even if he did always bet on his team to win, wouldn't that affect how he would manage in terms of how he used pitchers, substitutions, etc.? And wouldn't that affect his team for subsequent games that he didn't have money on? There is absolutely no evidence to make any of these claims, but if we're going to compare betting on games to steroids, I see very few ways a player's steroid use could harm his team.
Anyway, back to Joe."That raises the question: What about Shoeless Joe Jackson? Should we open the Hall to him?"
a good question. I would say yes, if you're going to let Rose in (I don't think either of them should be in, for the record)."I'd say no, because there's a difference between betting on a game, as Rose did, and throwing a game or trying to fix a game, as Shoeless Joe did. As I see it, there's a distinction between betting on games and fixing games. There might not be, but that's how I view it.
>>But what about the fact that Shoeless Joe returned the money to the gamblers? What about his .375 average during that series? I mean, if we're making all of these comparative arguments, surely these factors should be taken into consideration. No? Oh wait, I forgot. You're not good buddies with Shoeless Joe Jackson."Some people say it's OK to use steroids because they're not sure how much they help an athlete's performance. Others say it's not OK to use them because they're illegal.
Trust me, steroids do enhance performance. I've talked with experts who say this is an established fact. If steroids don't enhance performance, why would an athlete risk his long-term health by using them?"
>>Wow, Joe. And to think that all this time America had no idea whether or not steroids enhance performance. I gotta thank you for clearing that up, but aren't you worried about what might happen if this news gets out?
"Some people have had a tendency to disregard the claims and steroid allegations in Jose Canseco's book because they don't like Canseco. But, while I'm not sure about all the names he mentions, because of my relationship with Canseco I know that there's some truth to what he said in his book."
I love how typically "Joe Morgan" this statement is. First, establish your close relationship with a player. Then say two things that contradict themselves. What is it, Joe? Do you believe Canseco or not? You think he lied about some players but not others? Do you even know what you think?
"Because I spoke with him in person two years before his book came out, before the steroids publicity storm began, I have a tendency to believe him. Of course, when a celebrity writes a book, editors and writers have a tendency to sensationalize things. I don't know if every single baseball player who appears in the book is guilty, but I do believe some are guilty of steroid use."
>>So what you're saying is that you believe him, but the editors and writers exaggerate so you don't believe him (the writer is your buddy Jose Canseco, by the way). That makes no sense, Joe. Not that you care. But I am impressed at how well you know Jose Canseco. "Regarding Palmeiro, Canseco said he personally injected Palmeiro (as well as Mark McGwire) with steroids. Fans will have to form their own opinions and draw their own conclusions based on the facts before them.
>>So you have your buddy Canseco saying Palmeiro used steroids. The MLB saying Palmeiro used steroids. Rafael Palmeiro saying Palmeiro used steroids, and yet you still can't definitively say that you think Palmeiro used steroids? Joe? You don't have to defend anyone here. You realize that. "If I sound angry, I am.
>>Actually, you don't sound angry. You spent two paragraphs talking about Rafael Palmeiro's brother and you said that you might believe part of what Jose Canseco sort of wrote. I'd say you sound...actually, I don't know how
you sound."It is a joke that major-league baseball has let its great legacies be overshadowed by some players in the steroid era."
>>Aaaaand here we have it. The crux of most every Joe Morgan wrongheaded opinion ever uttered. The "my era vs. your era" argument. The reason he may have skipped Ryno's induction. The reason he thinks Billy Beane and a computer invented on-base percentage. The reason for his steadfast refusal to think that baseball can be analyzed in any way that it wasn't in 1972. And the reason he thinks a lying, gambling, tax-evading jerk should be in the Hall of Fame. He's not mad that steroids are hurting the game, he's mad that his old timey 70s pals are getting their numbers blown out of the water.
What a dick.