Luke: According to ESPN the Magazine's Rick Reilly, the 2001 NL MVP should be taken from Barry Bonds and given to THIS guy.
Aaron: That was absolutely the worst thing Reilly has ever vomited out. Did he really also include Piazza in the whole "clean" runner-ups list? I'm not accusing dude, but I think the "unsubstantiated free pass" list has about two names on it: Greg Maddux and maybe Willie McGee.
Luke: Piazza! That's the one I was missing. I only scanned the story the first time for names, because I knew the premise. Then, I went back and looked for the third name besides Gonzalez and Pujols, and I didn't even have the patience to keep going until I found Piazza. This really is the worst of the worst from Reilly, from the premise on down. The crazy thing is...he actually goes out of his way to say (paraphrase) "Adrian Beltre would have gotten the '04 award but it was so obvious he juiced that year, even though he has never been implicated." Really? Beltre was THAT obvious, but Gonzalez wasn't, and Pujols is just beyond reproach? You're serious?
Nick: Is Bagwell even mentioned? Nomar? The guy's tendons snap like fishing wire. Did he take back Eric Gagne's Cy Young?
Aaron: Bagwell, to me, is the most obvious one who NO ONE is talking about. He wore that Phat Farm/FUBU oversized jersey for the last half of his career, but unlike Bonds, he wasn't dumb enough to pose for BALCO ads and muscle magazine spreads. My theory is that Bagwell is forever linked to Craig Biggio as a teammate and the media's round-the-clock hard-on for Biggio's grit and gumption has blinded them to the elephant in the room. Nomar's even worse. You'd have thought someone would've said something when Bonds was catching heat, yet Nomar's posing shirtless on the cover of SI, looking like he was ready to challenge for the WWE title.
Luke: On Bagwell, I agree, he was always my personal "WTF?" poster boy, and I think he started with 'roids early in his career, not later. I watched him play a bunch of times in Double A, at New Britain . He hit 4 homers in 500-plus at-bats en route to the Eastern League MVP Award (Who is doing the voting there? MVP with four homers?). He was built like Khalil Greene. In 1994, he was ahead of the Roger Maris pace while playing in the ASTRODOME when the season got shortened.
The one thing is, though, no buzz really ever starts until you get caught, or implicated somehow. I've thought for five years that A-Rod was a definite. When you see that guy on a baseball field, he's not built like the other people. He looks like a giant, evil robot when he's running around the bases. The guy DWARFS people.
And really...he was clean in 2007 when, with an opportunity coming up to opt out of his contract, he suddenly became the best clutch hitter in baseball? He hit like .596 in the ninth inning and later with like 18 walk-offs. Suddenly some fortitude sprang up from deep in his loins, coincidentally at the time when he stood to bank another $300 mil?
My thanks to Nick n' Luke for unwittingly contributing to this lightly-read blog!