- One part of my childhood that I hold near and dear is the 2000 MLB season. The steroid era was in full swing, and the number of home runs required to crack the top 10 was 42. Offense was insane–to a degree I didn’t even really understand until I went back and looked at some of the numbers from the era.
- To put things in perspective, Miguel Cabrera won the 2012 Triple Crown by hitting .330, with 44 homers and 139 RBI. Richard Hidalgo, in 2000, hit .314, with a comparable 44 dingers and 122 RBI. That summer, he became my favorite non-Red Sox ball player.
- What was totally bogus about that season Hidalgo put up, is that he didn’t make the NL All-Star team. His splits don’t make sense of this either, because he hit 23 of his 44 in the first half of the year, when the All-Star voting was taking place. Hidalgo got screwed out of an All-Star appearance, and the baseball writers showed him no love at the end of the year either: he finished 20th in the MVP voting.
Now, with the benefit of hindsight, a lot of these baseball writer types want to say that Hidalgo was a steroid user, but we have many sources of information on who the steroid users were:
- There’s the Mitchell Report–Hidalgo isn’t mentioned in it
- There’s the list of 103 guys who tested positive (And, by the way, players were totally railroaded on this thing, but that’s a different discussion) that leaked to the New York Times–Hidalgo isn’t on the list
- There’s the BALCO witch hunt–Hidalgo never came up
- There’s that goofy book Canseco wrote because he needed money that week–Hidalgo’s not mentioned in it
- There are no eyewitness accounts of Richard Hidalgo using steroids.
All of this, in an era when EVERYBODY got thrown under the steroid bus, and they never had anything concrete on Hidalgo. Did he have a fluky season in 2000? Sure. But that stuff happens all the time. In order to do justice for my once-favorite ballplayer, I believe we should re-cast all the votes for the 2000 All-Star game, and perhaps go back to Turner Field and re-play the game with Hidalgo out there, starting in center field.