Steroids: If You Didn't Complain Then, Don't Complain Now

Andy BenschSenior Writer IFebruary 10, 2009

"It's game seven of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, bases-loaded, two-outs, full-count, the Giants are down by three, I'm at the plate, and I drive the 3-2 pitch out of the park for a walk-off grand-slam!!"


"It's game seven of the World Series, bottom of the ninth, bases-loaded, two-outs, full-count, Giants are up by one, I'm facing the mvp of the American League and I strike him out and we win the World Series!!"

Around this time of year, as the baseball season nears, many little-leaguers offer similar sentiments to the quotations above.

They do not however, say to their loving parents "hey mom and dad, I wanna hit 74 homers in a single season" or "I wanna hit 763 home runs!!" nor do they say "I wanna strikeout more batters than Roger Clemens!!".

Kids: They still believe in Santa Clause, and they still believe they will be "big-leaguers" when they grow up. They want so many things because they have so many dreams, but in the end, the only thing they want come this time of year, is to win the little-league championship.

The question I ask is that, since we were all kids once, when did we stray from our simple dreams? Where did we go wrong?

When we were little, baseball was about having fun and trying to win championships but now its about being "the best" no matter the cost. First it was Mark McGwire and  Sammy Sosa, and then came along Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. And now, the one player baseball was banking on to be "clean" has admitted to taking steroids.

But in Alex Rodriguez' interview with Peter Gammons of ESPN, he states that he didn't take steroids to help his team, he took them to become "the best player of all-time." My question is, if he took steroids to become the best player of all-time, then why does he go on and on about wanting to a win a championship? Can we really believe him when he says that a championship is his number one goal?

With the one player that baseball fans most wanted to be "clean" admitting to the use of "performance-enhancers", (to be more technical) what can us fans truly believe?

The truth is, we cannot believe any of it. A-Rod's apology, is it sincere? No. Why? Because he vehemently denied ever using performance-enhancers in December 2007 in an interview with Katie Couric.

The only reason he is admitting his usage now is because he was caught. Nobody in professional sports admits any wrong doing in their past unless they are caught. 

Each and every player known to have used performance-enhancers knew exactly what they were getting into. And the fact that they try to say they are sorry is another lie in itself.

However, I myself do not feel that any player who used steroids cheated. Baseball wanted this, baseball need this, baseball turned a blind eye to this. "Chicks dig the long-ball" right? Steroids may have in fact saved baseball.

Nobody knows for certain the exact amount of major leaguers that used performance-enhancers during the "steroid era".  However, the father-figure of steroids himself, Jose Canseco suggests that possibly over 80 percent of the league had used drugs to gain a competitive advantage.  Granted, Canseco isn't the greatest source to trust, but then again things that he has said in his books just keep coming true.

As much as others out there despise Canseco, to me, he is the only one who has told the truth. He took steroids and as far as I know, hasn't apologized for it.

Now, if 80 percent of players were "juicing" then what competitive advantage was there? In reality the advantage lies with the players who have natural talent.  Performance-enhancers do not enhance hand-to-eye coordination, and do not enhance the player's knowledge of opposing pitchers or opposing hitters. 

With or without steroids, Clemens, Bonds, and Rodriguez would all still be some of the best players of their era.

So in the end, their career statistics may be partially skewed compared to others in history because they were apart of the "steroid" era. But so what? What is the big fuss over 61 home runs, 73 home runs, 755 home runs, 762 home runs?

Baseball has different eras.  Pitchers in the mid 1900s would find all sorts of ways to doctor the baseball. Different eras had different "cheaters".  The fact is that cheating is always around in one form or another.

But why can't people just let it go? Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Rodriguez etc. They should all get into the hall of fame. Steroids did not make them great-baseball players. Hey Neifi Perez used steroids, did he all of a sudden hit 73 home runs in a single season? No. He didn't have the natural ability to hit the baseball the way Barry Bonds did.

Now I don't believe in asterisks, or changing any records, I believe in different time-periods and I believe in entertainment.

Barry Bonds hit more career home-runs than anybody else in the history of the Major Leagues.  That doesn't take away from the astounding career of Henry Aaron. His 755 home-runs in an era without performance-enhancers is an amazing accomplishment.

But who is to say that players like Aaron and Ruth would not have used performance-enhancers if surrounded by the same atmosphere and money that surrounds current big-leaguers?

Both Aaron and Bonds provided entertainment to the fans in the way of hitting a baseball, they both had tremendous careers and they should both be in the hall of fame.

Yes, baseball players of the current " Steroid" era should not be looked up to by the youth of America. Performance-enhancers are extremely dangerous and are not the answer to gaining a competitive advantage. 

But sitting here today, the belief I hold that Barry Bonds took steroids, does not take away the joy I had has a little leaguer going to opening day with my Dad, and watching a Barry Bonds home run fly into the stands. What he did on the baseball field was absolutely amazing.

Do I think I would get a long with Barry on a personal level? No, he was a club-house cancer and a liar. But that doesn't take away from the entertainment he provided.

So once again, why all the fuss? As fans, we want to be entertained, and players of the "Steroid" era were quite entertaining. Now if baseball wants to put an end to this era, it has every right to try and do just that.

But it my honest opinion, baseball writers of America who continuously vote against hall-of-fame worthy players because they were a part of the "Steroid" era, are a disgrace to the game.

They (all forms of the media, including baseball writers) are essentially going from telling players "entertain me, by any way possible" to saying "Were not letting you into the hall of fame, you did it the wrong way".

That seems to me to be a tad bit contradictory.

I just do not understand all the fuss that surrounds baseball and steroids. Personally, I don't care that players got away with using performance-enhancers in baseball.

If grown men were so completely idiotic that they were willing to risk their own well-being in an attempt to provide entertainment and become "the best player of all-time" then they shouldn't be persecuted for it. It wasn't always against the rules in baseball and we as fans let it happen. 

Any players' enhanced statistics due to steroids doesn't matter to me, who has the most home-runs or strikeouts or what have you does not matter. What matters to me is rooting for my team to win the World Series.

And I know that steroids or no steroids, no other single team in baseball has an advantage over any other team in baseball in their ability to win the World Series other than one thing: their team has more NATURAL TALENT.

So my pitch to fellow fans is simply to stop hating on Bonds, Clemens and all other steroid users and respect what they did on the field because of their natural ability to play the game of baseball.

And my pitch to current and future professional baseball players: Remember that baseball is about being in that game seven situation with the bases loaded, in the bottom of the ninth.

It's not about career home-runs or signing bonuses. Because steroids aren't worth it, they don't give you the ability to play baseball, they ruin the body and careers of those who have come before you.