Yep, 104 Major League Baseball players tested positive for "performance enhancing" substances in the, apparently, not-so-confidential screening. Who was surprised? And now, I propose to you, we shouldn't care.
After Alex Rodriguez's admission to Peter Gammons on Monday, we're left with a mystery 103. I submit that it's old news.
First of all, we've already digested the Mitchell Report. We know that steroids use was rampant. We know that home run hitters and fast-ball pitchers were juicing. Shoot, even banjo-hitting backup infielders and junk-tossing long relievers were on the stuff. Most significantly, we know that Major League Baseball executives and club officials all winked and looked the other way.
Secondly, it's long been known that professional athletes, far beyond baseball players, will grab any measure that will keep them on par with the competition, let alone give them an advantage.
If the word gets out that something might keep you at the top of your game a bit longer, or get you that big payday, pro athletes will consider it. Check out the cyclists caught up in the anti-doping net, as well as football players, track athletes, etc.
Thirdly, while it might have been against the law to take steroids without a doctor's prescription, it wasn't against MLB's rules until 2001. They didn't start an effective testing program until 2004.
I don't buy the "it was against the law" charge any more than the "I'll be calling the cops when you take a couple of your wife's vicodin the next time you sprain your ankle playing hoops with your kid."
Sure, it was against the law. So? Remember there's an old adage in baseball, "if you're not cheating, you're not trying hard enough."
Usually that referred to scuffing baseballs, stealing the other team's signs, or watering down the base paths, but it's not hard to make a connection.
Yeah, the stats in the "'Roids Era" are inflated. The stats in the Dead Ball Era were depressed, and when they lowered the mounds hitter's stats went up. I'm willing to accept that. And I'm willing to postulate that performance enhancing drug use was so rampant as to actually minimize it's impact.
For example, one of the great power vs. power matchups in recent times was Barry Bonds' at bat vs. Eric Gagne at ATT Park on April 17, 2004.
Up 3-1, with Bonds at the plate and no one on, Gagne threw Bonds a couple of 100+ MPH fast balls. One of them ended up in the stands in right center, about as far as a ball was hit off Gagne while he was in Dodger Blue (before he had his personal 'roid breakdown, anyway).
It was great baseball drama. Was it diminished because the pitcher and the batter were juicers? I don't think so.
I actually applaud A-Rod for coming clean, albeit a bit after he pulled a Raffy Palmiero in an interview. I wish Roger, Barry, Big Mac, Sammy, and all would, too. Let's put it behind us. I don't want to hear any more.
Pitchers and catchers report in a week or so. I'm ready.