All but calling newly acquired Red Sox closer Eric Gagne (above) a PED-user, the LA Daily News’ John Klima says of the former Dodgers reliever, “his closing skills were as epic as his people skills, but any objective baseball person has to think twice about how he did what he did.”
In the era of power bats, he became a power arm. Baseball people from around the league believed for years that he wasn’t doing it alone. They respected his gamesmanship and couldn’t put a price tag on his desire to shove the baseball down the opponent’s throat. But they also recognized that Gagne, too, might have been a product of his era.
If you are convinced that there must be an asterisk on the Bonds home run record, then you must also accept that you’d have to put one next to Gagne’s 84 consecutive saves. But Gagne is a good guy, so his record gets no asterisk. He’s a loveable French-Canadian, Ian Laperriere without the crooked nose. This forces the conclusion that records of this era must stand alone, because there is no method of measurement. The fans aren’t leaving the game because of this, but hindsight is coming quickly.
Can you say in your heart that you’re positive that one of the most beloved Dodgers in years didn’t have help? Does it matter? It shouldn’t. Nor should it be for Bonds.
Therein is the dilemma. Gagne is close to the hearts of many Dodgers fans, and his career here will take on folkloric stature long after he is finished.
Bonds is a reason why teams shouldn’t sell beer after the seventh inning.
Like Bonds, there’s no proof. Like Bonds, there are only signs of change and a medical history that leads to speculation. Unlike Bonds, Gagne is remembered for being part of the family. After all, it’s easier to forgive a friend than it is to forgive an enemy.
Even Bob Ryan thinks this was an irresponsible column.