While he’s not as over-the-top as Rick Reilly about it, SI’s Tom Verducci likewise pretends to know who has and who hasn’t done steroids. My favorite part:
He is right about the guessing game. It is laughable how people want to draw simplistic conclusions about steroids and home runs. Take Rodriguez, for instance. People want to explain his home runs in Texas via steroids, ignoring the ballpark effects and the youthful prime of his career. Similarly, it is naïve to put those three years in their own lockbox, which would be, for one, to believe a highly suspect person at face value that somehow he did not use before or since, and secondly, to ignore the physiological benefits even from those three years.
This after Veducci himself has (1) played the guessing game by assuming that Carlos Delgado has never done steroids;* (2) drawn simplistic conclusions about steroids and home runs by assuming home run totals say something instructive about steroid use; and (3) put the years 1996-2003 in a lockbox, calling them the height of the steroid era and assuming that there was not substantial and significant use before or since.
Look, I appreciate what Veducci is trying to do here. He, like so many of us, wants to bring some kind of certainty to bear on steroids’ impact on baseball. He wants to draw a line around certain players and statistics so we can at least have some kind of a foothold for assessing the era in which we find ourselves. The fact of the matter, however, is that no analysis, such as it is, like this one going to achieve that certainty or allow us to separate the wheat from the chaff. Rather, it’s going to take a lot of time and a lot of reporting and scholarship. In the meantime, we’re just going to have to live with our vague senses about this stuff and have some faith that the enduring nature of the game — and the work of history — will sort all of this stuff out for us.
*I’ll grant that it’s very possible — likely even — that Delgado didn’t use steroids. His denials sound impassioned and genuine. But if we’ve learned anything in recent years, it’s that we cannot rely on a player’s word about this subject. Perhaps that’s unfair to Delgado, but if it is, he should take the matter up with Messers. Palmiero, Clemens, Rodriguez, and others.