Alex Rodriguez, Barry Bonds deserve their honors


Mike Gimbel was a consultant to two Major League Baseball teams in the 1990s. He developed statistics to measure the overall contribution of baseball players, expressed as one number — net run production. We reprint his letter with his permission, with some explanations in brackets.

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez and Barry Bonds have proven that their previous performances were not caused by the use of steroids.

[New York Yankee designated hitter] A-Rod has had a phenomenal season in 2015, at a very advanced age, and he did it after missing more than a full season of being banned and a good portion of the previous season as well, after having surgery on both hips.

Barry Bonds, in his last season in MLB at the advanced age of 42, just prior to being “blacklisted,” had a monster season, producing a net of 35.40 runs, which was third best in the National League to David Wright and Chipper Jones.  

Both A-Rod and Bonds were subject to intense scrutiny and public ridicule and still managed to perform at Hall-of-Fame levels while obviously “clean.” This should put to bed all the hysteria and nonsense about steroids, but it won’t because facts will never get in the way of this witch hunt.

Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds

I am over 71 years old. I had a torn rotator cuff in my left shoulder two years ago. While I could throw very hard about 50 years ago, I would have trouble breaking a pane of glass today, even with my right arm, which is my throwing arm. I went to the doctor to get it treated. Guess what they did? They injected my shoulder with steroids! Did they think that I needed the injection to pitch for the Mets? Of course not. This is a standard medical treatment to repair your body and, in my case, after two injections and exercising under medical supervision, it worked and my shoulder is now fine.

[MLB pitcher] Andy Pettitte took human growth hormones (HGH), not to perform better, but to repair an injury so as to get back on the playing field sooner. Why was it demanded that he apologize? While I would rather that he had done this under a doctor’s care, I applaud Pettitte for doing what he could to repair himself from an injury. Isn’t that what medicine is for?

Should we condemn every injured MLB player who goes to a doctor when they get hurt? Did Pettitte and A-Rod take shortcuts to get back on the field? Isn’t that what every MLB team does to get their players back on the field when they send them for Tommy John surgery [surgical replacement of a ligament in the elbow]?

Wasn’t A-Rod an often injured player? Did he not have many injuries and surgeries, including on both his hips? My main concern with A-Rod is that he was not under a doctor’s care, and in contact with the team, while he self-medicated. Steroids can be dangerous to that individual, if misused. Dangerous not to you and me. Dangerous to the individual involved. In fact, all medicines should be administered by trained medical personnel. This is a health issue, not a cheating issue.

I previously showed that the years when A-Rod admitted to use of steroids in Texas were years of a downward production for him, not improved performance. PED [performance-enhancing drugs] is a Madison Avenue word, not a scientific word. There is no definition for PED.

Things have gotten so ridiculous that actual PEDs, as advertised on TV by jocks, are completely accepted. The “Five-Hour Energy” drinks openly claim that they improve an athlete’s performance! This type of stimulant has been around for at least a century and was used (think “greenies” [amphetamines]) by MLB players through all that time.

Even sillier, Babe Ruth [the Yankee’s legendary home-run hitter of the 1920s and 1930s] used steroids and a banned substance and openly stated that they gave him the power to hit those home runs. He ate sheep’s testicles. Steroids are a form of testosterone. Guess what is in sheep’s testicles: Testosterone aka steroids.

What was the criminally banned substance that Ruth bragged that he took? Beer. All alcoholic drinks were banned during prohibition. Babe Ruth defied the ban on alcoholic drinks. In the eyes of “the law,” he was breaking the law.

Do we, therefore, condemn Babe Ruth and try to witch hunt him for making the greatest increase in home run productions ever seen, more so, by far, than the far smaller increase during the misnamed “Steroid Era”? Do we shout to the high heavens to ban Babe Ruth from the Hall of Fame? Shame, shame on Babe Ruth as the miscreant and lawbreaker. Ban him!

Of course we should not condemn Babe Ruth! We all admire Babe Ruth’s immense contributions to the game of baseball and honor him as the greatest MLB hitter of all time. Instead, we should condemn the witch hunt that has tarnished the reputations of some of the greatest players in MLB history and which has tarnished the game itself.

Let’s honor Barry Bonds as the second best hitter in MLB history and Roger Clemens as the greatest pitcher in MLB history. And while we are at it, let’s demand that A-Rod be elected to the Hall of Fame when his name comes up for that vote, and let’s not forget the others who suffered in this massive witch hunt, such as Mark McGwire [who hit 70 home runs in 1998. Bonds hit 73 in 2001]. They deserve our admiration for their accomplishments on the field, not our condemnation!

Stop the witch hunt!! Welcome back Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens into the good graces of MLB as two of the greatest players who ever put on an MLB uniform!

–Mike Gimbel