I could write a book about Brady Anderson.
I feel terrible for the guy. It’s not that we’re accusing him of having taken steroids. I have no problem speculating. Joe Posnanski wrote a piece where he compiled lists of players we strongly suspect used, players who probably used, and players who adhered to “fair play.” I think it’s fair to pass conjecture on any of the players Posnanski places on the strongly suspected list. I’ve heard the “guilty until proven innocent” rationale used before to defend these players, mainly in the case of Barry Bonds. Of course, that defense only applies in the court of law, and since there’s no reason for Bonds to be taken to a trial, then it is our prerogative to come up with a verdict using whatever available evidence is at our disposal. The evidence rather conclusively shows that Bonds used steroids. For the “fair play” list, I take issue with the thought that David Eckstein and Jamie Moyer never used, but whatever, nobody’s name on that list is getting libeled.
I feel terrible for Brady Anderson because we’re accusing him of being an idiot. Posnanski writes “We all know that Anderson famously hit 50 home runs in 1996, and he never hit more than 24 home runs in any other season.” OK…
Do fans actually believe that you can determine if a player took steroids by simply studying the number of home runs he hit? And why should one outlier season increase the probability that he took steroids? Because he only used PEDs for that one year? Do you think steroids can actually add that much power to a player’s bat? Do you have any idea how steroids work? 34 homers? Are you kidding? And then what? So here’s what you’re telling me:
It’s fall of 1996, and Anderson, having realized the magic of performance enhancing drugs, is coming off a 50-homer year. He’s heading into his final year with the Orioles before he hits free agency. But he comes to the decision that he doesn’t want to be remembered as a cheat, so he dramatically throws all his pills and vials into the trash, possibly with the help of an intervention from Zack Morris. So Brady hits 18 homers in 1997, but he does it clean. Or maybe you think that he didn’t have a moral renaissance. You just think he wasn’t smart enough to realize he could have been the most prolific home run hitter in baseball had he continued down the path of Bonds. Remember, in your world, Barry Bonds was not the greatest player of the 1990s. That was Ken Griffey Jr. Bonds only became great because of the juice. In your world, Saved by the Bell is a go-to television show reference.
Let’s review. You’ve constructed this scenario where the guy takes PEDs for a year and posts a superhuman .637 slugging percentage. That’s the only year in your scenario where he uses steroids, and he regresses the following year, in the process forfeiting millions of dollars, as this is his contract year. So in your scenario, he comes clean, as he realizes that compromising his moral values isn’t worth the fame and money. But instead of being a hero for this, you’re here to lambaste the guy. You know the truth, and you want everyone to know that he cheated in 1996, which to you invalidates his entire career accomplishments. To you, he’s the poster-boy for meaningless home runs in the Steroid Era, even though you believe he only took steroids for one year.
I have no idea whether or not Anderson took steroids. He’s denied it, but a lot of players who take steroids don’t cop to. I do know that Anderson was a very good ballplayer with one spectacular season. Unfortunately, we’re belittling his career achievements because of that one spectacular season. We’re making character judgments on him, saying that he either lost his backbone for one year by succumbing to the allure of steroids, or he wasn’t smart enough to realize the impact steroids had on his batting numbers. Let’s not insult the guy.