Williams: 'Hypocrisy' in PED criticism
White Sox GM offers historical perspective into modern-day issue
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When Alex Rodriguez's news conference started Tuesday afternoon in Tampa, Fla., Ken Williams was 1,804 miles away, evaluating White Sox talent in Arizona.
The White Sox general manager didn't need to hear Rodriguez's apology or comments to form a profound opinion about the hot-button subject, bringing an interesting historical perspective into the modern-day steroids problem.
"There are guys in previous generations who are really outspoken on it, and there's a certain hypocrisy in it," Williams told MLB.com while sitting on a golf cart near one of the White Sox practice fields at Camelback Ranch. "Let's say you are talking the '70s and the '80s, then you are talking there was a lot of amphetamines usage as a performance enhancer.
"So, if you are one of those guys -- and I've heard guys that I know did that type of thing -- criticizing the guys doing the state-of-the-art thing in the mid-'80s into the '90s and [next decade], OK, well, it's a little hypocritical.
"You know, I just don't feel like I have the right in my life to be so judgmental about others," Williams said. "Everybody that's walked the face of the Earth has their share of baggage one way or another. We all have to live with our own individual lives."
A few White Sox players glanced at the clubhouse televisions featuring Rodriguez as they trickled in at the end of their Tuesday workouts. But the Florida media frenzy didn't hold their attention as much as getting their work in and getting ready for the 2009 regular season.
Some of the talk from White Sox players concerning Rodriguez came earlier in the day, from individuals with remote connections to the All-Star, who admitted to using steroids from 2001-03 while he played with Texas. John Danks was the Rangers' top pick in the 2003 First-Year Player Draft, so he missed Rodriguez by one year.
Danks also is a Texas native and has a great appreciation for sports within the state. The young southpaw described Rodriguez as one of the biggest names in Texas baseball, but adding a lighter, honest touch to a situation that has been anything but, Danks pointed out how Rodriguez's popularity couldn't match football in Texas.
"Dallas Cowboys, University of Texas, even high school football," Danks said with a smile. "He didn't outweigh football, and I don't think anyone can. Nolan Ryan doesn't outweigh football.
"To be honest with you, I was in high school during this time period with these allegations so I wasn't around it too much. Since I've been in baseball, it's been clean. I haven't known of anyone or heard of anyone doing steroids since. I'm the wrong person to ask, but in my opinion, for a guy like him to come clean, it means a lot."
Wilson Betemit played with Rodriguez and the Yankees for the past two seasons but simply offered up that Rodriguez was a good guy and a "hard worker, who came early every day to work out."
It was up to Williams, an individual who holds a keen understanding of the game's development from past to present, to answer one of the more difficult questions coming as an offshoot from Rodriguez's revelations. Does he belong in the Hall of Fame, when that time officially comes?
That answer was not an easy one for Williams to offer. His response left little doubt as to how there is no definite right way of thinking on this topic.
"I would like to hear more information first about what was or wasn't done to find the answer to my question," Williams said. "It's a difficult question, but a good question, which opens the idea that if one guy is [a Hall of Famer], then the next guy has to be as well, right? And the next guy and the next guy.
"At the same time, I'm very cognizant when I see [Rodriguez's] image and some of these guys' images and their numbers, I think of guys like [Hank] Aaron and [Babe] Ruth and Junior [Ken Griffey Jr.], [Jim] Thome and Frank [Thomas], these guys who may be robbed of an opportunity to be in the Hall of Fame because of people's ideas of the numbers. So, I think of more the others, how it's affected everyone else than how it's affected that particular individual, because I'm not in a position to judge him.
"Each era has their baggage of inclusion or exclusion. You go back to the days of Ruth and all those guys in the Hall of Fame from that period, and well, they weren't playing against black players. So, one could argue that those numbers are inflated. They aren't artificially inflated by substance, but they are inflated.
"To use a different measure of inflation in a different era, well, is it or isn't it as equal, or is it greater than or less than?" Williams said. "So, it's very complicated and that's why I don't think there is going to be a black-and-white answer, and maybe there shouldn't be."
Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.