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Roids or no Pudge is a Hall of Famer

Former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is up for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Former Texas Rangers catcher Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez is up for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Star-Telegram

The vote has yet to be announced but the early “poll” results indicate that the news will not be good for Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez.

Hope for the best and expect to be disappointed. Of course, as we saw with the 2016 Presidential election, poll results are wonderful barometers of the future, and nearly as accurate as weather forecasters.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its class for 2017 on Wednesday evening, and the former Rangers catcher is up for induction for the first time.

Pudge has been lumped into the steroid crowd, and even though I have no evidence he took banned substances I am 100000 percent sure he took them like nearly every other hitter of his era did. Nonetheless, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Much like the top cyclists during the Lance Armstrong era were all as clean as three-week old baby diapers, all big league ball players were ‘roiding for a long time. Longer than we think, and likely many are still giving it the ol’ college try to find a way to make it to the bigs, and stay there.

Who knew money was such a motivator?

As such, the steroid spectre continues to haunt the current classes of potential Hall of Fame inductees. For instance, Barry Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro and Roger Clemens continue to be eligible and have yet to be voted into Cooperstown. And they won’t, but last season’s induction of former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza changes everything.

If Piazza is allowed in Cooperstown, which he was last season, so should Pudge. Pudge was better than Piazza; Pudge’s only sin was that he never played in New York.

Pudge was the Johnny Bench of his era, with a superior bat. There are few to no statistics Pudge did not excel. Click here to glance at his long list of superlative numbers.

Piazza was often considered as much of a ‘roid guy as those who were, and those named in the infamous The Abbreviated Roll Call of Guys Who Did Roids List (aka The Mitchell Report).

Pudge was not on that list, but the selectively honest Jose Canseco called him out as a user, as well as half of the world as well.

The rub is that the self righteous group that votes for the Baseball Hall of Fame is fairly certain Pudge was indeed a ‘roid guy; they don’t like roid guys. I am not a HOF voter yet, and I am fairly certain he was.

To start the 2002 spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Pudge’s first MLB season in his 30s, he arrived looking like a balloon that had been inflated by a bike tire. Only more bloated. He often had his personal trainer with him in the Rangers’ clubhouse, who was from his native Puerto Rico; that was often thought to be his hook up.

In the first month plus of that season, Pudge batted .222 with no home runs and but five RBI. The slow start was blamed on his offseason - cough-cough - “weight gain.”

Then, by either a miracle or Jane Fonda’s “New Workout” VHS tape, Pudge lost weight as if he had just delivered a baby. In the month of June, he batted .357 en route to a season where he hit 19 home runs with 60 RBI and over .300.

These and other anecdotes followed Pudge for the rest of his 21-year MLB career that ended in 2011.

Pudge is a HOFer without ‘roids, no different than Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens. Players like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire do not have HOF-type numbers without using ‘roids, and as such they don’t belong.

The question is if my thought process is the majority, which would put Pudge in where he belongs - Cooperstown.

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