Alex Rodriguez Saga Shows True Nature of the Game

Ryan BurnsAnalyst IFebruary 11, 2009

Sportswriters are paid to give their opinions, whether right or wrong, informed or not, we all tune in to ESPN and talk radio to hear so called experts discuss the most pressing issues of the day.

So it is no surprise that since news of Alex Rodriguez's positive steroid test from 2003 surfaced, it has dominated all media, both local and nationwide.

Sportswriters often never admit when they were wrong or made a mistake. After learning about 104 players in 2003 testing positive for steroids, I am ready to admit that I made a mistake. 

I am sorry for saying that Barry Bonds shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame. I am sorry for saying that Bonds is not the current home run king. I am sorry for looking at players like Bonds, Clemens, and McGwire as tainted players with that scarlet letter S on their chest. 

I am sorry for believing that the steroid problem was unique to a handful of players when the last few months have shown us anything but.

I have never been a Barry Bonds fan, not because of the steroid issue initially, I loathed the man because he was a horrible teammate, clubhouse personality, and overall a shallow person.  Once the steroid rumors started circulating, I finally had a tangible reason to dislike the man. 

He was cheating the game, the fans, and his team, right?  Same with Sosa and McGwire, two players who helped baseball burst back into the mainstream in that summer of '98. Their majestic home runs helped MLB forget about the strike and move on.

However, since steroids were made illegal in 2004, we now have a laundry list of players (some Hall of Famers, some scrubs) who felt the need to take steroids in order to improve their on field performance. 

Some of these names weren't that shocking, like Roger Clemens, who dominated hitters into his forties, or Pudge Rodriguez, who mysteriously lost his pudginess the year steroids were deemed illegal. 

However, Alex Rodriguez's positive test from 2003 was perhaps the most shocking name of all, if only for the fact that baseball fans nationwide held out hope that he would one day eclipse Barry Bonds career home run record, doing it cleanly.

Wait just a minute. Some investigative reporting by Sports Illustrated revealed to the world that in 2003, 104 players in a survey test by MLB tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs, some 5-7 percent of the league, according to the numbers at the time.

I have a problem with this for a few reasons. First of all, these tests were supposed to be kept anonymous, and the results were supposed to be destroyed, had it not been for buffoonery on the part of the MLBPA. Thanks to their negligence, baseball is enduring one of its darkest periods, mere days before pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report for Spring Training.

The other problem I have with the test is that out of the 104 players that tested positive, so far, only A-Rod has been publicly named, leaving him on his own to deal with the firestorm that is the New York media.

What was A-Rod better at taking steroids than the other 103 players, is he any bigger of a cheater than the 103?  Of course not, it goes back to that classic American tradition of building up our stars only to tear them down.

The time has come to move past this issue and face the facts. Yes, many players have used steroids, both before they were illegal and after. The ones that have tested positive since 2004 have been penalized and thanks to the implementation of the testing, we probably wont see an epidemic like this again.

Something else to consider: Would Bonds, Clemens, and A-Rod still have Hall of Fame numbers even if they had never taken 'roids?  Of course they would, because the bottom line is that in any sport, there are good players, average players, and great players. 

Sure, performance-enhancing drugs helped the great players stay great, but what about the below average players who used and didn't see results on the field? 

So I'm sorry. There, I said it. Which brings me to the Hall of Fame question.

All of the players from the "Steroid Era" should be considered for the Hall of Fame based on their numbers, (sorry Big Mac, you wouldn't get my vote) only because of how widespread the problem was and for the fact that it was not illegal. 

If A-Rod, Bonds, Clemens, McGwire, Palmeiro etc were the only players to take PED's then no, don't let them into the Hall of Fame. You either let them all in, or leave them all out.  Anything else would be a sham.

As I write this, I understand that this 2003 test is only a snapshot of the problem that is PED's. We as baseball fans have to realize that this happened, but that it wasn't recently. So again, I'll take the high road and say I'm sorry.

At least until another SI report comes out.


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