Reporting John P. Lopez
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Matt Cain’s perfection against the Astros on Wednesday night was more than a magnificent personal achievement.
It was the fifth no-hitter of the year. It was the second perfect game. And it was the latest dark, bold exclamation point on the most humiliating era in baseball — the Steroid Era, the latest evidence why a shadow of doubt should be cast on anyone who played from 1997-2007.
Hall Of Fame candidacy should be questioned for all, not just a few. Personal achievements of any kind should be doubted. Baseball should hang its head in shame.
Often in defense of the game we all love, apologists and romantics state the case of, “Steroids don’t help a player hit a baseball.”
Well, then, how do you explain 1997-2007? To m, that is the breach of the Steroid Era. It’s the year before Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa made a mockery of Babe Ruth’s revered single-season home run record and the year the Mitchell Report pulled the mask off the sham that was drug use in baseball.
Keep in mind that by no means have hitters in baseball stopped using supplements — including many illegal, such as Human Growth Hormone. But in the wake of Matt Cain’s perfect game of the Astros on Wednesday night, it becomes ever more clear that perhaps EVERY hitter in baseball and many pitchers used steroids.
Statistics do not lie.
And they speak volumes about what steroids did for the game during the Steroid Era and how much more drug awareness in the game has brought pitching back to the forefront.
For 100-years, pitching dominated the game. The only tweaks baseball tried in an effort to bring more offense into the game were things like lowering the pitchers’ mound in the late-1960s and fortifying baseballs (i.e., “juiced” balls, allegedly, for a while).
From 1997-2007, an 11-year span, the league-wide on-base percentage eclipsed .335 SEVEN times. In just five-years since, it has yet to eclipse .335.
Total home runs during the Steroid Era eclipsed 5,000 NINE times. Since, just once.
Slugging percentage was higher than .420 EIGHT times. Since, not once.
And there were just 16 no-hitters during the Steroid Era, including only six from ’99-’02. In just five-years since, EIGHTEEN.
There no longer should be ANY question that steroid use in baseball not only was popular in baseball during that era, but rampant. Does it affect Hall Of Fame candidacy? Yes. It should.