Pitching excelled during steroids era, too

By Rob Parker - Sports Columnist
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DETROIT - It was kind of ironic that on the same day Felix Hernandez pitch a perfect game for the Seattle Mariners that the San Francisco Giants lost All-Star left fielder Melky Cabrera for 50 games for testing positive for testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance.

Before the Cabrera revelation, it was believed that pitchers were back on top in the sport because hitters weren't on ``the juice'' any longer. The proof was that there have now been 15 no-hitters since April  2010 and three perfect games in 2012, a record for a major-league season.

Enter Cabrera, who was enjoying a career-best season. He had second-best batting average in the National League. Last month, he was named MVP of the All-Star Game in Kansas City after going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer.

"I'd say more disappointment," Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the media after the announcement about Cabrera, 28. "He's such a great teammate and was having a nice year for us. Unfortunately, these things happen in baseball. There's not a lot you can do about it. I  guess the best thing you can do is keep educating players so these things don't happen."

Obviously, Cabrera -- who admitted he made a mistake -- shouldn't have taken the banned substance. That's pretty simple. It wasn't always the case, though. In the past, you can understand why this stuff went on because the game didn't test for its use. That's not the case anymore. Hence, players should be suspended when they get caught.

The bigger debate, however, was that since baseball came down on steroid use, the game had changed and pitchers ruled instead of hitters.

So after King Felix's perfect game over the Tampa Bay Rays, the talk was that we have seen all of this great pitching because steroids were out the game, things were back to normal.

Again and again, those who want to put so much on steroids always overlook the facts. We were always told steroids made you hit homers. That's why supposedly Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa hit all those homers.

By the way, Cabrera had just 11 homers in his best season ever. So does it make you hit homers? They will point to his batting average (.346), although McGwire often batted less than .250 during his big home run seasons.

Confusing? Indeed.

That's because there's  no proof that the stuff turns you into a Hall of Famer. If a guy like Cabrera is caught, it's used as evidence. But if there is a guy who hasn't put up impressive numbers despite being caught, they would say that they don't have talent.

Go back and look at the Mitchell Report. There are plenty of players on there that didn't excel after using steroids.

Plus, more pitchers have tested positive on both the major league and minor league level since the sport started testing players. It was an equal playing field, for the most part.

And the notion that steroids swung the game toward hitting is just plain wrong. And when it's all said and done, we could wind up with more pitchers going to the Hall of Fame from the Steroid Era than any other. Here are just a few who happen to excel during all those homers and ``juice'' -- Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson and maybe even Roger Clemens (if voters get over the charges that he used steroids).

The point to all of this is that it's not as simple as people make it. If you use steroids, it doesn't make you a star. Plus, there isn't one player who you believe could get into the Hall of Fame that didn't deserve to.

 It's too hard to try to figure this out and for the baseball writers to play judge and jury. Plus, we still don't know all who were using, some think more than half the league was using it at one point.

The bottom line is that if baseball is going to count everything, especially the championships won by teams that had players caught using steroids, you have to count all the stats as well.

We should simply call it the Steroid Era and count everything that happened during that time when baseball didn't test for the stuff.  It's so simple because what's done can't be undone.

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