Houston sports journalists, who were excitedly touting Craig Biggio’s imminent selection to the Hall of Fame early in the week, instead have had to backtrack after Biggio fell just two votes shy (after falling 39 votes short last year). His Killer B teammate, Jeff Bagwell, actually lost ground in this year’s voting.
By the numbers, both players deserve to make the cut — especially when one considers the more advanced baseball statistics that have come into greater use in recent years. One suspects if they had played in bigger media markets, Bagwell and Biggio would already be in. Biggio will almost certainly get the call next year or the year after, once the voting curmudgeons have made their point (whatever that is). Bagwell, on the other hand, may not.
Unlike some players in the so-called “Steroid Era,” Bagwell has never been definitively linked to the use of banned performance enhancing drugs (PEDs). However, the transformation of Bagwell’s body over his career raised suspicions that he may have had more help than just really serious workouts.
Houston sports journalists have mostly defended Bagwell on the PED front, not unlike Jerome “King” Solomon did in the Thursday Houston Chronicle:
Why did Bagwell finish so far behind Biggio in the voting?
Oh, no real reason, except he hit a bunch of home runs during a time a bunch of baseball players were using steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.
Even if you are one of the lost ones who believes steroids users are vile human beings, life cheats and have no place in the Hall of Fame, there is no evidence Bagwell used performance-enhancing drugs. None.
In May 2007, the very same columnist wrote the following on chron.com:
Typically when Mark McGwire is written about, the drug Androstenedione is found in a nearby sentence. Would you boo McGwire if he showed up at Minute Maid? Probably. The media booed him rather loudly with their Hall of Fame votes.
Well, Bagwell used Andro – banned in every sport but baseball at the time, and now banned by MLB too – before McGwire went nuts in 1998, yet do you see that mentioned over and over anywhere? Bagwell will be honored at Minute Maid in August, when his jersey will be retired. Will you boo him? Will the media?
In the original comments (now missing from chron.com because of a change to the commenting system, but available on the Wayback Machine site), Solomon followed up by citing Bagwell as his source for the admission. No retraction or correction was ever made so far as I know.
So, Solomon seems to have forgotten that HE was the one who once wrote that Bagwell used PEDs during his playing career. Andro wasn’t an illegal or banned PED at the time, and I don’t think it should disqualify Bagwell from Hall of Fame consideration, when his numbers clearly show him to be among the best of his era. But apparently, not all voters see it that way.