By his own admission, Cal Ripken admits to dodging the issue when asked about Mark McGwire possibly joining him on the Hall of Fame podium, but conceded steroids give a skewed perception of a player’s numbers.
If a player plays his entire career using steroids, “all numbers produced are artificial numbers,” Ripken said. In the case of McGwire, whose physical presence clearly changed from the start to the end of his career, it’s hard to tell when to start to judge. Ripken admits to being naive or ignorant about steroid use, but maybe he’s trying to be political.
“I’m curious, but I don’t feel I’m in a position to judge,” Ripken said. “I, personally, sit back and don’t want to be drawn into that. I’m not personally qualified.”
Ripken did not specifically mention McGwire, or any other player – one of which was former teammate Rafael Palmeiro – linked to steroids.
I wish he would have. Just like I wish Derek Jeter and other big name stars would speak out against it. I understand the mentality of the player fraternity, but it is the reputation of their game that is at stake and I’d like for them to protect it more. Instead, Ripken said: “History will judge us all. Whether it is now or 50 years from now, the truth will come out.”
Ripken said he’s not personally qualified, but he’s wrong. The essence of his record streak was showing up for work under all conditions and playing when there were times he would rather not.
Part of the essence of steroid use is allowing the athlete to perform when he’s not always physically able. If anybody is able to talk about the purity of playing it would be Ripken.