Bryant Gumbel, on his his Real Sports show, recently criticized McGwire for lack of adequate contrition in his steroids confession, and suggested that Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Bagwell, and Pudge Rodriguez had "overnight power outages" and should be viewed as similar to McGwire. Jeff Pearlman, a SI.com writer, jumped to Gumbel's defense, saying he has no problem with accusing Garciaparra, Bagwell, and Rodriguez of steroids use without proof:
The three men he cited are very obvious cases of performance enhancers in action, and I’d willingly bet my entire collection of Dave Fleming rookie cards that the trio didn’t make it on talent alone. I also think Gumbel’s message, while somewhat messy, is important: The best thing these guys can do is come clean, admit what they did and try to move on with life and their careers. Because, while Gumbel was the first to have the guts to say something, I assure you most knowledgeable Hall voters are well aware that something was bubbly in the ol’ tap water.
Hell, I saw Nomar and Bagwell at their beefed-up peaks. I read the article—as ludicrous as any I’ve ever seen—when Pudge reported to camp one year twenty-five pounds lighter, and chalked it up to a need for greater mobility. Is it wrong to make stabs without proof? Yes. But when we take into account the era, and the accomplishments, and the sudden slides, and the complete lack of courage and accountability, well, it’s understandable.
I have to say I was biased against Pearlman's opinion even before I read this piece. Pearlman's approach to the steroids issue has been like a witch hunt. And his view that journalists can throw around accusations without hard evidence (as opposed to supposition and speculation) is irresponsible.
In examining Gumbel's stated "evidence," I should also point out that Bagwell's "overnight power outage" occurred in a 2005 season in which he was forced to undergo shoulder in May of that season. The so-called power outages for Nomar, Pudge, and Bagwell also are not abnormal declines for players of their age.
But, on to his view that Hall of Fame voters alraedy recognize the steroids link for these three players...do you think that the prospects of Bagwell entering the Hall of Fame is endangered by these articles? What bothers me is the way that some sports writers will pick up opinions of Pearlman and Gumbel and run with it in their own columns. That can keep the issue alive without any more "facts" coming to light.