Neither Billy Wagner nor Alex Rodriguez elected into the Hall of Fame in 2022, but Wagner wonders why Rodriguez is even deserving of a conversation regarding his Cooperstown candidacy.
Speaking with Mike Puma of the New York Post, the former Mets reliever said that players who were suspended for performance enhancing drugs during their playing careers should be ineligible to even appear on a Hall of Fame ballot, which of course would include Rodriguez, who was suspended for the entire 2014 season due to his involvement with the Biogenesis lab scandal.
“If you are caught and proven without a doubt and you are suspended, I don’t know why you are on the ballot,” Wagner told The Post. “I understand that A-Rod was one of the greatest players I ever played against, and when all that stuff changes you just have a hard time. You go, ‘Why? You were already great.’”
Rodriguez confessed to steroid use in 2009, saying he took a banned substance after he signed his record-breaking deal with the Rangers, citing a sense of pressure to perform up to his massive contract. The former Yankee appeared to be on a Hall of Fame course before ever signing that deal with Texas, slashing .309/.374/.561 with 189 home runs during his seven years with the Mariners. Of course, Rodriguez’s association with steroid use was far from over after that initial admission, leading to him receiving just under 35 percent of Hall of Fame votes this week, well short of the necessary 75.
Wagner wonders why Rodriguez even received one percent.
“For whatever reason I just don’t think it’s fair that [PED users] get to enjoy what guys who did it the correct way are forced to deal with,” Wagner said. “A guy like Dale Murphy who goes out there and hits and gets MVPs and does it correctly, but doesn’t get in, but the guy who takes shortcuts shouldn’t get the same privilege.”
Wagner, who is trending in the right direction for Cooperstown but still received just over half of votes in 2022, says there is a clear disctinction between suspected players of steroid use, like generational talents Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (who both fell short in their final year of eligibility), and the likes of Rodriguez, who were caught and disciplined once strict rules were implemented. Wagner clearly feels strongly about Rodriguez’s case, or lack thereof, but he said he chooses to take others infractions as a compliment to his own talent.
“I feel like it’s a compliment to me that somebody had to go and do this, they had to go and get supplements to be able to compete with somebody like me,” Wagner said. “I do feel that is a credit to what I brought, and to play in that era they had to do that because they weren’t having much success against me.”
Follow Ryan Chichester on Twitter: @ryanchichester1