Rick Reilly has written one of the most spectacularly horrible columns in his long history of writing spectacularly horrible columns. This time he purports to “re-award” MVP trophies to guys who he believes weren’t taking PEDs:
Step up here, Mike Piazza. The late Ken Caminiti of the San Diego Padres stole your 1996 NL MVP, then admitted he was into more juice than Jack LaLanne. Yes, it’s 13 years late, but the nameplate is new! And here’s yours from 2001, Luis Gonzalez, after you finished behind The Barry Bonds Pharmacy. We won’t even mention the home run title you would’ve won that year.
Now, for the man of the night. I have a U-Haul of hardware here for Jose Alberto Pujols Alcántara of the St. Louis Cardinals. You already have two MVPs, Albert, and you’re about to get three more, since Barry Bonds ripped you off worse than Bernie Madoff to win the award from 2002 to 2004. You hit .335 and averaged 41 bombs those years and yet you finished second behind the clearly creaming Bonds in ’02 and ’03 and third behind Bonds and Adrian Beltre in ’04. We’re throwing out Beltre since, while he denies ever using PEDs, he fell off the face of the planet once baseball put in stricter steroid suspensions in 2005. If he wasn’t cheating, I’m the Queen Mother . . .
. . . So step right up, Moises Alou, here’s your MVP for 1998, when you finished behind Sammy Sosa and the Dubious Dinger, Mark McGwire. Here’s yours for 2000, Frank Thomas. You were fleeced out of it by admitted ‘roider Jason Giambi.
As Cameron Martin notes over at Bugs & Cranks, how in the hell does Reilly know that Piazza, Gonzalez, Alou, and Pujols weren’t on PEDs? What evidence does he have that Sosa and Beltre were? It strikes me that if you want to play the “everyone was ‘roiding” game, fine, go ahead and play it because at least there’s a cynical consistency to it. But to say, based on nothing other than cuts of jibs, that player X was taking PEDs and player Y was not, is hackery at its most basic.
If the Mitchell Report and the A-Rod affair have shown anything, they’ve shown that fans’ and reporters’ steroid parlor games are pointless, because for every obvious case like Barry Bonds, there are several more guys who were juicing that you never would have suspected. In light of that, if Rick Reilly has actual evidence implicating Sosa and Beltre or absolving Piazza, Gonzalez, Alou, and Pujols, he should report it. If he only has reasoned suspicions, he should at the very least investigate them and then report them once he has something concrete. If he’s too lazy to do anything other than sling this kind of ill-considered and unserious garbage at his editor every couple of weeks and then cash his outsized paychecks, he should get the hell out of the business, because he’s disgracing both it and himself by doing so.