COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. - To Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, the "glitter" that typically surrounds a player hitting his 600th home run just isn't there with Alex Rodriguez.
"We know it's a unique number that few people have gotten to," Molitor said Friday, but he added that with Rodriguez, it just feels, well, different. And that has everything to do with the giant elephant in the conversation: Rodriguez's steroid admission 17 months ago.
Figuring out how to respond to Rodriguez's 600th home run is only the start of an awkward phase of a ceremonial moment; the question that looms over this fabled town continues to be whether players who have been linked to performance-enhancing drugs will ever get inducted into the Hall of Fame.
"I don't envy the writers because there are certainly players who have been associated with them or admitted to them that have Hall of Fame ability with or without their usage," Molitor said. "For people to try to discern those type of issues is very, very difficult. I think there's going to be a price to pay."
Of course, you could make the case that "cheaters" - in some form or another - already have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. It's no secret, for example, that Gaylord Perry mastered the art of throwing the spitball, an illegal pitch, en route to winning 314 games between 1962 and 1983.
On the topic of players who used PEDs, Perry said Friday: "It's a very tough situation. It's not up to us. The writers . . . they're the ones who have to make the decision."
He said "of course" his opinion of Rodriguez changed after he heard his admission, but he doesn't think steroids are going to keep Rodriguez out of the Hall of Fame. It just might take longer for him to get in than it would have otherwise.
"I think he'll have to wait a few years," said Perry, who gave up Hank Aaron's 600th career home run in 1971. "They make a lot of people wait for a few different reasons, and I think that's one of them. He'll eventually get in, but he'll have to wait three or four years."
But that's just a guessing game right now. Assuming Rodriguez plays out the remaining seven years on his current contract, then retires, he wouldn't be eligible for the Hall of Fame for 12 more years. Who knows how the steroid era will be viewed by the voters at that point?
"I think over time, it might get a little more lax," Molitor said. "I think time seems to help people heal and move. But we've seen with the voting over the last couple of years with certain players that were eligible that it's going to be a while before people come around to that whole issue."