Cal Ripken, Jr.: The O.J. Of Steroids Investigators

On May 16 of last year, the PALM BEACH POST reported:

Ripken Brothers Cal and Billy

(Left: Holmes, Right: Watson)

Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. has known New York Yankees All-Star Alex Rodriguez for 16 years, but the two have not spoken since Rodriguez admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs while playing for the Texas Rangers.

But when they do, he has one question.

“I really want to know why,” Ripken told the audience at the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County’s Men’s Night Out banquet Thursday.

 ”I’m going to make it my business to find out.”

Like you, I’m certain we’ll soon know what Ripken found out during his six month investigation. Probably right around the time Furman Bisher breaks the news that Tiger Woods has re-emerged from a sex addiction clinic in southern Mississippi.

In 2007, (gumshoe) Ripken and Mark McGwire were both eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame for the first time. Ripken was voted in while McGwire was not only embargoed by the BBWAA that year, but in two subsequent elections.

BBWAA member and Baseball Hall of Fame voter Mel Antonen in a 2007 USA TODAY web chat after voting concluded:

Oyster Bay: How do we know that other Hall of Famers never took steriods? How do we know 100% that Cal and Tony never did it? Please tell us, the American baseball fan how we can trust the media to give us the truth, when this was going on for years? Charlie from Oyster Bay
Mel Antonen: Cal and Tony were never accused of steroids by any legitimate source. There was no drug testing in place when they played.

Elon, NC: Some writers said they won’t vote for anyone in the steroid era. Ripken got 98.5% Can he really be considered from the steroid era? Aren’t his numbers/accomplishments enough from 1981 to 1998?
Mel Antonen: I agree. It doesn’t make sense to link Ripken to any kind of steroids use.

With steroids primarily used by the population to recover from injury, “it doesn’t make sense” that Ripken partook during his run of 2,131 consecutive games played?

On the same day as Antonen’s chat, Jack Curry of the NEW YORK TIMES reported this quote from Baseball Hall of Fame voter Phil Rogers of the CHICAGO TRIBUNE on McGwire:

“I can’t imagine ever voting for him. He’s been linked too directly to steroid use.”

At the time of those quotes, an accusation by Jose Canseco in his first book was the only anecdotal link between McGwire and steroids. There was no direct evidence of any kind.

So the same guy MLB blackballed and BBWAA writers looked down their noses at, Canseco, had enough credility at that time to ruin McGwire’s Hall of Fame chances?

If that’s the case Mr. BBWAA, then what about Canseco’s 2009 clear implication that Ripken did steroids? Where’s the follow on that?

The only reason we view McGwire and Ripken any differently today is not solely because of Canseco’s accusation, but because McGwire was “invited” to the 2005 Congressional hearing and Ripken was not. Had Ripken been forced invited to testify under oath, the media would’ve throw him in the same cesspool as McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Rafeal Palmeiro.

So why wasn’t Ripken invited, considering that he broke a record that could be just as readily attributed to steroids as McGwire? Simple: McGwire had the misfortune of playing with Canseco and Ripken didn’t. McGwire was then forced to appear at the hearing because of Canseco’s accusations and the unwillingnessly by authorities to provide him legal immunity.

Yes, Canseco was ultimately responsible for McGwire getting banned from the Hall of Fame. But the fatal blow to his credibility came at the hearings, not from Canseco’s claim. Hearings where Ripken also should’ve been called, but wasn’t for reasons that have never been made clear.

Even then, there has never been any direct evidence linking McGwire to steroids. Not even close. BBWAA members solely based their HOF votes on one accusation from a former player with a dubious reputation and McGwire’s performance in front of Congress.

Did Cal Ripken Juice? If not Jose, then who?

Ironic that so many people now celebrate Canseco as a man who helped clean up baseball, while ignoring his obvious linkage of Ripken to steroids.