The light at the end of the tunnel is almost closed, at least for now.
One of the best players in baseball, one that was supposed to clean up the sport, was found guilty of using steroids during the 2001-03 seasons.
Alex Rodriguez is just the latest ball player to fall.
After superstars like Roger Clemens (354 career wins), Rafael Palmeiro (569 career homeruns), Mark McGwire (583 homeruns) and the MLB homerun leader, Barry Bonds (762 homeruns) were all accused of using steroids, Rodriguez joins the group of what would have been a list of future Hall of Famers. Now there is doubt in the air.
McGwire has been shot down in the last few years of his eligibility while Bonds, Clemens, and Palmerio are all long shots to some day make the hall. Some of the most dominant players in the game turned out to have one thing in common, they were cheaters.
Jason Giambi and Andy Petite also were All-Star talents accused of using steroids. Both came out publicly and apologized and were able to keep their jobs and avoid any discipline from the MLB.
Anyone that thinks A-rod is just coming out to get "the monkey off his back" is just plain nuts.
The only reason A-rod is coming out is to try to get forgiveness from the nation of fans and to save his own butt. He knows what he did was wrong and that the doubts cast over him would ruin his career. He saw that Giambi and Petite were just given a slap on the wrist when they admitted steroid use and is hoping he will receive the same treatment.
What he did though, was bring even more doubt into the game of baseball. The fans cannot trust anyone anymore.
He was the golden boy, the player that was supposed to bring back some truth to baseball. We were all watching the future homerun king, advancing on snatching the crown away from the cheater currently sitting on top. We can kiss that away now.
A-rod turns into A-Fraud
It is really an embarrasment to the game more than anything. Baseball players are being caught left and right and now A-rod becomes the biggest player to fall.
Every ball player now is labeled as a user. They are guilty until proven innocent and that is not right.
The players have to be furious though. Steroids help players recover from injury quicker, keeps them at their peak performance longer and helps string along their careers for much longer than they should be playing for.
While some players have their few good years and are lucky to play in the league for a few years before their play drops off, players using steroids are staying on the field longer.
Bonds, for example, averaged 45 homeruns a year during his last eight years of his career in which he played at least 126 games (in 2005, Bonds only played in 14 games due to injury). That span started when Bonds was 35 years old, the age most players are on their last legs. Not Bonds though. He put 73 balls over the fence at the age of 36.
Roger Clemens also benefited from steroids, prolonging his career. Need an example? At the age of 41, Roger Clemens won the N.L. Cy Young Award, for being the best pitcher in the National League.
Steroids are helping players cheat. For pitchers it reduces recovery time from pitching, improving endurance and reducing injury. For the position player, it helps reduce the wear and tear from playing everyday and of course puts a lot more power into their swing.
There are, of course, side effects also. Things like blowing out muscles from overworking, and unchangeable side effects to the human body (I don't think anyone needs examples, we all know them).
Not only is it ruining a sport, it is also sending the wrong message to kids. Sure the side effects might be bad but setting records and making millions of dollars can sure out-weigh the negatives.
Major League Baseball has a huge problem on its hands. It can not ignore it like it has for years. They have to step up their testing policies and enforce major suspensions to try to scare people away from using.
While that won't scare all, it will stop some from taking them. As for the big fish in the game, it will eventually be revealed someday. Just ask Bonds, Clemens, or A-rod about that.
While Major League Baseball can not suspend A-rod or put any punishment in place, (The test in 2003 to prove A-rod was using also included 103 other players who all remain confidential. The test was a way for the MLB to see exactly how many players were using steroids. It was supposed to be confidential and no punishment was to be given to anyone. There was no set of rules in place and it was agreed upon by both Major League Baseball and the Players Union. Major League Baseball should step up its testing and also try to get the message across to younger players in high school and college that steroid use will not be tolerated.
For now, question marks are put on every player. We put all our eggs in the basket with A-rod and he burned us. Let's pray that players like Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas were clean. As fans, that is all we can really do.
Hopefully someday, a player will come through and clear all of the garbage blocking that light and put some integrity back in Major League Baseball.
For now though, all we have is black clouds overhead.