In a recent interview, Paul Molitor joined Frank Thomas among those designated hitter-types already in baseball's Hall of Fame who would say "no" to Alex Rodriguez.
Molitor was polite enough about it but, as Thomas did, he also made it clear: A-Rod probably did performance-enhancing drugs, therefore he doesn't belong in Cooperstown. As quoted by Bob Elliott of the Canadian Baseball Network:
“I don’t think he was overly targeted by Major League Baseball,” Molitor said Saturday night. “I don’t think they would impose such a severe suspension.
“I know that there was not a positive drug test, but there was just cause. So, no, I don’t think he belongs.”
Molitor was in Woodbridge to speak at the annual Ontario Blue Jays Hall of Fame banquet as the team inducted its third class.
On the one hand, given the climate of opinion against A-Rod right now, it's kind of a moot question. If a vote came tomorrow, he probably wouldn't do as well as Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, who each got 30-something percent in the most recent election. If they're not getting in, A-Rod's not getting in.
But it's worthy to gauge the opinions of Hall of Famers, because even though many stances against players tied to PEDs probably will soften in future years, many future voters are going to consider what the Hall of Famers think. It's human nature to do so.
Thomas is on the record repeatedly saying he's never done PEDs. Presumably, Molitor has done the same — or would, if asked. But, it's also common knowledge that Molitor was a dedicated cocaine user at one point during his career.
This blog post at Seamheads summarizes part of the book that Molitor's former agent wrote 20-some years ago about that time in Molitor's life. It wasn't pretty:
As his agent Ron Simon wrote in The Game Behind the Game, “He was everybody’s All-American. Jack Armstrong. In the flesh.” Molitor wasn’t comfortable in that role. He’d return from night games to find 20-25 messages from girls and women awaiting him at Milwaukee’s Astor Hotel, where he was living. “It isn’t easy being Mr. Squeaky Clean 24 hours a day, and Paul was burdened with the unrealistic expectations of family, friends, and baseball fans,” Simon wrote.
During a lengthy period rehabbing an injury in 1980, teammates urged Molitor to try cocaine, and he got hooked. It was a handy escape from the image that had been forced on him, and it got out of control. There were times when his family couldn’t find him, and in 1981 his future wife Linda told him she’d leave if he didn’t stop using. He complied without going through formal rehab, but his ordeal continued. As one of four players named as customers in the 1984 trial of Tony Peters — Molitor wasn’t charged, and Peters was sentenced to 27 years — he bore the embarrassment anew. But once he started giving anti-drug talks to kids, calling cocaine “the Devil’s drug,” all was forgiven. Confession is good for the soul, and baseball pardons its penitent players.
All right, so we've got A-Rod and his alleged performance-enhancing drugs on one side, and Molitor and his drug of abuse on the other. Not the same thing, right? At first blush, doing cocaine seems harmful for anyone wanting to be a success at anything. Although, when I read that Molitor got hooked on cocaine during an injury rehab, something goes off in my brain that says he was taking it to help him mentally get through a dreadful time. Cocaine might not be a performance enhancer in the traditional sense, but it's still a stimulant. The ultimate stimulant. Stimulants are banned by MLB for being performance enhancers.
With certainty, there's no moral difference between what Molitor did then and what A-Rod has been accused of doing recently. Molitor's transgressions were forgiven, and it's a good thing. You'd think Molitor would be a little more forgiving as a result. And a little less eager to cast any stones.
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