Since the first time two men ever competed against each other, there have been athletes that have tried to better themselves. Some of these athletes decided to eat healthier and lift weights, while others decided to try and improve themselves with the help of illegal substances. A lot of time has passed since those days and it has become easier for athletes to cheat. The drugs have evolved and the people making the drugs continue to work at hiding the fact that you are taking steroids, testosterone, or any other substance. This holds true across the board, but especially in baseball.
For as long as men have playing the sport we know as baseball, there have been a few that have looked past the rules. It’s the same thing we have seen for years in every major team sport and even some individual sports, but the one basic constant is the desire to get better. These players have thought that any advantage they could get over their competitors was worth taking and the only thing it has done is hurt their credibility. Some of the most notable cheaters were on their way to Hall of Fame careers before they ever even thought about taking performance enhancing drugs, using corked bats or doctoring a baseball, but whether the reason behind it was their ego or desire to get a larger paycheck, the one thing that holds true is they have tainted the game and the players that originally paved the way.
Who are the 15 worst cheaters in Major League Baseball history?
15. Miguel Tejada
For about eight seasons in the middle of his career, Miguel Tejada was one of the best in the sport. He won the American League Most Valuable Player award in 2002 and led the league in RBIs in 2004. Tejada has never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs, but there have been too many coincidences for it to be just that. In his tell-all book, Jose Canseco said he taught Tejada about PEDs. Rafael Palmeiro then blamed his failed drug test on a B12 shot he received from Tejada and in the Mitchell Report, Adam Piatt said he bought testosterone and HGH from the shortstop in 2003.
14. Gaylord Perry
The only player to make this list that has been enshrined in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame is Gaylord Perry. He finished his career with a 314-265 record and also became the first pitcher to win the Cy Young in the American and National Leagues. Perry’s method of cheating was simple. He would either throw a spitball or a ball with Vaseline. It wasn’t until his 21st season that he finally got ejected for doctoring a baseball. His actions in the current state of baseball would be frowned upon. Just ask Michael Pineda.
13. Albert Belle
Albert Belle was the first baseball player to earn a contract worth more than $10 million a year. He was also the first guy to hit 50 home runs and 50 doubles in the same season. He was a feared hitter that had incredible raw power that most pitchers feared. As it turned out, it wasn’t solely raw power, rather it was power that was aided by corked bats. In 1994, he was caught using a corked bat and was suspended seven games. Years later, his former teammate Omar Vizquel said about the Indians effort to switch Belle’s bat, “The problem, of course, was that all of Albert’s bats were corked.”
12. Jason Giambi
Jason Giambi, the left-hander from West Covina, Calif. currently has 440 home runs in his career. Between 1998 and 2003, Giambi did things not many other players could do. While Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire got all the headlines, Giambi was quietly putting up Hall of Fame numbers and then it all faded when he admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs. Giambi is one of those players that have seemingly gotten a free pass from the media because when he admittedly took steroids, they weren’t banned and Major League Baseball didn’t have a drug testing policy.
11. Rafael Palmeiro
When the United States Congress decided that steroid use in baseball had gone too far, Palmeiro was one of the players they called on to testify. During those hearings, Palmeiro, with his finger wagging, proclaimed, “I have never used steroids. Period.” With more than 3,000 hits and 500 home runs, the left-hander should be in the Hall of Fame, but not long after speaking to congress, tested positive for stanozol, the most potent steroid available at the time. After returning from his suspension, Palmeiro finished out the season and would later be included in the Mitchell Report as a performance enhancing drug user.
10. Roger Clemens
With seven Cy Young awards and one AL Most Valuable Player award, Roger Clemens has one of the greatest resumes of any player in MLB history. The flame-thrower had six seasons during his career with at least 20 wins and 12 seasons with an ERA less than 3.00. Too bad those numbers and his resume have been questioned because of alleged performance enhancing drug use. The Rocket was the star for every team he pitched on, but has not been able to get past the alleged use of steroids. His name was mentioned as a drug user by former trainer, Brian McNamee.
9. Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa began his career with the Chicago White Sox, but most fans didn’t know who he was until he went across town to the Cubs. Along with Mark McGwire, he electrified baseball fans in 1998 with his home run show each night. Many fans have assumed Sosa has taken performance enhancing drugs during his career, but was never caught. In 2003, what he was caught doing was using a corked bat and he was suspended eight games. He claimed that it was a bat meant for batting practice, but anyone that watches baseball knows that players can tell the difference in their bats without even looking at them.
8. Mark McGwire
The summer of 1998 was when baseball fans began to care again for the first time since the strike in 1994. It was because of the home run battle between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa that fans began attending ball parks again. McGwire would go on to hit 70 home runs that season, shattering Roger Maris’ record, but he got caught up in the steroid talk in large part due to his relationship with Jose Canseco. At one time, McGwire admitted to taking Androstenedione in 1998 after the bottle was found in his locker, but according to Jose Canseco, McGwire took much worse. In a 2010 interview, McGwire finally admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs for “health reasons,” but that hasn’t earned him his spot in the Hall of Fame.
7. Ryan Braun
In 2011, Ryan Braun won the National League Most Valuable Player. He earned the award after hitting .332 with 33 home runs and 111 RBIs. After being announced as the MVP, there was a urine sample that tested positive for testosterone. He was suspended, but appealed the results and won based on a technicality regarding the proper procedure for the person responsible for transporting the sample. The next year, he didn’t fail a test and put up great numbers, making many think his failed test may have been a fluke. In 2013, his name was linked to the Biogenesis drug scandal, showing the fans that the first failed drug test was probably true, and was suspended 65 games.
6. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson
One of the most talented players in the history of Major League Baseball is “Shoeless” Joe Jackson. He is one of the best outfielders of all-time and was called one of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News. Aside from his remarkable play, he is known for his alleged role conspiracy to fix the 1919 World Series as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He was one of eight White Sox that earned a ban from the sport. However, he hit .375 in the World Series and didn’t make an error, so his “role” in the scandal has been heavily debated.
5. Pete Rose
By now, we all know that he is banned for life from Major League Baseball, which is why he hasn’t been inducted into the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown despite his records for hits (4,256), games (3,562), and singles (3,215). Rose earned the ban after admitting to betting on games he was managing with the Cincinnati Reds. He may have never “cheated” as a player, but what he did was as bad for the sport as the performance enhancing drugs of today. As years continue to pass, the hope for Rose to make his way to Cooperstown fades with it, but at least he can still show the current crop of cheaters what could happen if they continue their behavior.
4. Manny Ramirez
Manny being Manny. That was the saying used about Manny Ramirez and his lackadaisical behavior on and off the field. Whether it was taking a bathroom break in the Green Monster or just being a quirky character, Ramirez made waves. Too bad for him, part of those waves included being caught taking a women’s fertility drug, earning a 50 game suspension. His suspension for the failed drug test came long after his most successful time as a Boston Red Sox. Many could argue that he only took those drugs later in his career to keep up with the younger players, but most fans will feel that if he cheated later in his career, how do we know if he didn’t do it early in his career too.
3. Jose Canseco
With 462 career home runs, you would think that any player would be on his way to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. That would only be the case if you didn’t know that Jose Canseco hit those home runs. When you think of baseball players known for cheating, he is the kingpin. He has openly admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs in his tell-all book and is open regarding his drug use in any email he gives. He has also admitted to be the man who introduced PEDs to other players, many of which appear on this list including Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.
2. Alex Rodriguez
When you look at the most talented players in the history of Major League Baseball, one of the first players that will be mentioned is Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod has the natural talent that made it easy for fans to love him when he was with the Seattle Mariners. More than a decade and several massive contracts later, he will have missed the entire 2014 season because of suspension for his role in the Biogenesis drug scandal. The original suspension was set to be for 211 games, which would have been one of the longest in the history of sports.
1. Barry Bonds
One of the biggest and worst cheaters in the history of the sport is Barry Bonds. The left-hander holds the MLB record for home runs (762) and walks (2,558) and was well on his way to a spot in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame before fans felt he began taking performance enhancing drugs. That was before the memorable Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire home run battle led Bonds to allegedly turn to performance enhancing drugs. Depending on who you ask, his ego wouldn’t allow other players to have the spotlight on them. His name came out as part of the BALCO lab case with Victor Conte and personal trainer, Greg Anderson. Conte says he never gave Bonds steroids, but did give him “the cream” and “the clear.”
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