Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids, and with any semblance of hope for a superhero-like rescue from baseball’s present dark state, it is finally time for me to reopen the steroid topic, one I’ve tried to avoid as much as possible in every realm of sports discussion for nearly two years.
I got into writing about the time of the BALCO scandal. Having studied enough of baseball’s history to develop what I feel is a reasonable perception, it gave me an outlet to truly organize and express my thoughts on steroids.
The first article I wrote, a Myspace blog, was about a 3,500 word, sloppily written, essay form research paper on steroids, for all intents and purposes.
That was in the middle of 2006. I’ve since become sickened by steroids, and while they are probably the hot topic for which I have the most knowledge, I generally refuse to talk about their association with baseball but with a select few.
My opinion on the way PED users should be perceived historically has evolved as names, famous and anonymous, in no short supply continue to populate the list of implicated users.
I also think that the stereo type of a steroid user has evolved.
When steroid speculation began to gain some legs, the day Ken Caminiti admitted to his own steroid use, I emailed a local talk show host who had all but laughed off Caminiti’s claims that “At least half the players are using steroids.”
The host went on to say pitchers would not use steroids as they value flexibility over brute strength, an opinion widely accepted. He doubted that steroid use was very prevalent in baseball at all, let alone as wide spread as Caminiti claimed.
I emailed him to attempt to legitimize Caminiti’s claims, as I’d suspected Barry Bonds was using steroids about that time as well. I’d speculated on Brady Anderson and Luis Gonzalez, who both cracked the 50 home-run mark after barely surpassing the halfway mark to 50 earlier in their careers.
However, like the rest of America, my vision was clouded. These were the good guys, not the malcontent that Bonds was. Those guys loved baseball, not fame or fortune, just baseball.
Remember when it was “just baseball?” I attended my first baseball game in 1986, about a month after I was born, and my interest hasn’t slowed, though my memory of the game I grew up with has begun to fade.
The Alex Rodriguez I grew up with has changed also. I remember when the most controversial aspect of his career was his 1996 three point MVP loss to Juan Gonzalez, an award taken away from Rodriguez, though involuntarily, by Ken Griffey Jr.
I’ve grown tired of the soap opera. I don’t care if Alex Rodriguez is dating Madonna or Michael Jackson, nor do I have any interest in a Joe Torre book about New York a year removed from the end of his tenure there, as he attempts to lead his present Dodgers.
I’m tired of Curt Schilling’s blog, I’m tired of seeing Jose Canseco’s face, and though I harbor no personal feelings positive or negative about these men themselves, I’m damn tired of seeing Roger Cossack and Pedro Gomez.
Sensationalism will be baseball’s demise, if baseball allows it to be.
Being a fan of Major League baseball today is like walking through a mine field. With each step, with each decision, there is potential for disaster. Celebration of a step forward will almost inevitably lead to a miss step, and if I’m going to get blown up, I sure as hell won’t be doing a victory dance when it happens.
So I ignore steroids, desensitized perhaps. Truth be told, I’ve come to the point where I truly feel that every player with a “hall worthy” legacy, apart from steroids, should be allowed into the hall of fame.
If it is Alex Sanchez or Alex Rodriguez, it is unimportant at this point. Baseball must rid itself of steroids, to the fullest extent possible, but rather than attempting to mend the past, baseball must look forward.
This is far from the first black eye on baseball’s record, and at this point, nothing will erase the past decade’s historical presence in the hall as the “steroids era.” An indelible mark has been placed on baseball’s history, however, as long as baseball is plagued by stories like this, six years removed from the offense, progress will be halted.
Babe Ruth never faced a black pitcher. Bob Gibson pitched on a 15 inch mound. Ty Cobb and Gaylord Perry were cheaters. Sandy Koufax played the last two full seasons of his career taking cortisone shots.
The biggest caveat for steroid users is the perception of a level playing field. As the list of those implicated with steroids grows, undoubtedly trumped by the un-testable HGH, the playing field that we’ve collectively looked down upon appears more and more level each day.