The announcement that Alex Rodriguez used steroids from 2001-2003 has once again tarnished the national pastime. A sport that may have the highest paid athletes in America is dealing with a serious image crisis.
Baseball contains the most famous of both single-season and career records out of the four major sports. There is now a great number of its premier players in the past decade under scrutiny for their steroid use. Many of the recent records broken and career milestones achieved are now considered tarnished.
Baseball's historical narrative is the only one of the major sports that truly runs parallel to the national history. Baseball helped the nation stay positive during WWII and many players sacrificed their individual stats for the uniforms of the armed services. Baseball broke the color barrier in 1947 with Jackie Robinson. Henry Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's career home run record in 1974 furthered what Jackie Robinson started.
Yet in this era of the game, baseball is defined as a sport with overzealous contracts and players that would inject steroids to better their chances for stats and for the Hall of Fame. It has become so bad that when Barry Bonds broke Henry Aaron's record, not all were on board for it truly being the record. The actual home run ball is now emblazoned with an asterisk.
Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire and others who testified before Congress declaring that they never used when in fact they did has called into question whether or not the players get it. They truly cheated and instead of admitting their faults, they would rather go silent and leave countless fans young and old reeling.
The actions by both the commissioner and the player's union have raised even further fuel to the fire. Bud Selig has tried to play the innocent card in all of this and now it seems not possible. His family owns the Brewers so for him not to know is hard to accept. Donald Fehr ever since the strike in 1994 has presented himself as someone who is more concerned about protecting the players than protecting the game.
It is difficult to expect suspensions for A-Rod or any of the other 107 players who tested positive in the first round of testing. The only course of action that can still be instituted is the voting for the Hall of Fame. The sportswriters who have been given the privilege to cast a votes for players now must consider if using steroids is as unforgivable as gambling has been to Shoeless Jo Jackson and Pete Rose.
The summer of 2009 is a time for baseball to seek forgiveness. The ownership, the union and the players must stand before a confessional of stadiums housed with a world of fans and admit that they did do steroids. For baseball not to come clean can only lead to further tarnishing of the sport.
Say it is so and a new era can truly begin.