You gotta love live TV. There was a tense moment between Mitch Williams and Peter Gammons on MLB Network’s “Hot Stove” on Monday. And because it was live, it couldn’t be edited out, and we got to enjoy it.
The panel was discussing which current players were locks for the Hall of Fame. The list included Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez, both of whom tested positive for steroids — A-Rod in what was supposed to be an anonymous survey, Manny after testing began in earnest.
Gammons said he thinks that in 15 or so years, voters will forget all about the tests and vote these guys in. Williams disagreed, saying steroid users should not be elected to the Hall because they wouldn’t have put up their numbers without the illicit help. Gammons then asked if the numbers of old-time players were inflated because of “greenies” — amphetamines.
This is where things got interesting. Williams looked at Billy Ripken, the other former player on the panel. At first neither said anything. Then Williams spoke up, saying he couldn’t answer that because he has no idea what amphetamines do to your body.
Then they went to a commercial. I would have loved to be in the studio or control room to hear what Williams had to say to Gammons. “Don’t ever blindside me like that again” was likely the gist of what he said.
I will take Williams at his apparent word that he never took amphetamines. It is common knowledge that the use of greenies was widespread throughout baseball for decades until they were banned a few years ago, yet retired players seem very reluctant to talk about it.
The subject comes up a couple of times a year during Mets broadcasts. Neither Keith Hernandez nor Ron Darling ever say anything. I’m not saying their should say which of their teammates used them — I agree that what goes on in the clubhouse should stay in the clubhouse. But they could tell their personal stories, whether they used of didn’t. Instead they just remain silent.
Retired players who blast steroid users should keep in mind that amphetamines are also performance enhancers, and it’s more than likely that they used them. Admitting that use would make their sometimes holier-than-thou criticism of steroid users that much more valid.