Let's all be honest for a minute about steroids. While this isn't why A-Rod took steroids, you have to look at the incentive.
My dream has always been to play baseball professionally. If I had more talent and the accessibility to steroids and HGH, I would take them to fulfill my dream. I wouldn't think twice about it.
This is where I have an issue with A-Rod juicing. He was a potential first-ballot Hall-of-Famer before his steroid use (allegedly 2001-03). In his last three years in Seattle, Rodriguez hit a combined 125 home runs. Problem was, he only made a hair under $9.6 million during that span.
He went to Texas with the $22 million per year contract, and wanted out after three years.
Next stop: the big time. The Yankees. Love them or hate them, everyone who has ever played baseball would kill to play in pinstripes. If you never longed to play for them, then you don't appreciate the value of 26 rings.
But when you're in New York, you're in the spotlight. And the New York media is quick to judge.
Everyone from the fiery tabloids to the level-headed Joe Torre has taken their turn at trying to bring down A-Rod, but nothing brings down a ballplayer like steroids.
Bruce Sutter once said, "Baseball is a perfect game, played by imperfect people."
Who are professional ballplayers? Quite a few are adulterers, stoners, womanizers, gamblers, cheaters, or overall immoral people. But we don't hear the stories of every athlete.
According to the story that singled out A-Rod, 104 players tested positive for Performance-Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in 2003. Just to put this in perspective, every team's active roster has 25 players. Thus, at least 13.9 percent of professional baseball players juiced in 2003.
I find it ironic that it would be a Yankee that made me come to the following realization—the best players from the steroid era need to be in the Hall of Fame.
You cannot know exactly who juiced and who was clean, so you have to let them all in. Canseco, McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Clemens, and the rest deserve their shot at Cooperstown.
You cannot turn the page on the Steroid Era and not look back. You need to appreciate it for what it was. Baseball was fresh off of a work stoppage and needed fan support, badly. Don't believe me? Compare the ratings of the NHL now with the NHL of six years ago.
In essence, the juicers made baseball big again. You enjoyed it. Don't kid yourself. What wasn't fun about the home run chase in '98? Even though I grew up in New England, the Red Sox aren't what got me into baseball, the chase was.
I digress. Alex Rodriguez isn't necessarily a worse human being than any other professional athlete. It's a business, and he made a money-making move.
I'm done booing juicers. It's pointless.
Sox fans, I've had enough of steroid users getting heckled at Fenway. Would you boo Ortiz if he admitted to juicing? What about Nomar? Or Mo Vaughn? Or even (gasp) Jason Varitek?
I would have done exactly the same thing, and I'd bet most of America would too.
As baseball fans, we cannot move forward from the Steroid Era until we recognize the good it did for the game. But more importantly, it needs to become the past.