Baseball is the ultimate skill sport, where seemingly any player with the necessary tools to play the game can compete at the highest level. Athleticism is not of utmost importance.
Over the past 15-20 years, the integrity of America's pastime has been compromised due to players loading up on performance-enhancing drugs. It is tarnishing a beautiful sport and caused fans to question everything that they see. So many players and records that were once held sacred are now laughed at and have been reduced to illegitimacy.
With the recent news out of Miami concerning Alex Rodriguez and others involved in another steroid scandal (via ESPN), it is time that Bud Selig and his associates take more action. While measures have been taken to wane out the offenders, it clearly is not working as effectively as it needs to be. Ryan Braun also recently won MVP while being accused of using PED's.
The majority of news stories regarding baseball have involved steroids for the past 10 years, and enough is enough. The home run record is tainted. Roger Clemens' seven Cy Young awards are tainted. Alex Rodriguez's entire career is tainted. Even players who have presumably dominated during the steroid era with a clean record such as Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez and Chipper Jones don't get the recognition they deserve for playing undermanned their whole careers against juiced-up competition.
Obviously the recent adjustments are not working as needed. Players are still failing tests for what they claim to be accidents because they end up taking vitamins or other supplements that they did not know were on the banned substance list. This is a crock, as it has been clearly laid out for them what supplements are banned.
With firm guidelines, players need stricter suspensions and more frequent and diligent testing. While many supplements on the banned list are not performance enhancing, they still garner 50-game suspensions. What needs to be altered is that performance-enhancing drugs need to elicit harsher suspensions.
HGH testing is a step in the right direction. By no means will it be an overnight cure, but it is a start. With a plethora of young superstars coming up and taking the league by storm, they must lead in a new generation of clean baseball. One by one the goats of the steroid era are fading into the shadows, which opens the door for a restoration of America's pastime.
If the star players in your league are going down like flies, it leaves everything up to questioning. If LeBron James or Tom Brady were caught up in a PED scandal, their respective leagues would fall flat on their faces. Steroids in baseball has become too commonplace, as it has gotten to a point where it is accepted as part of the game. Fans put less faith in their teams for fear of being made to look like fools.
As a lifetime diehard fan of the sport, it is brutal to sit idly and see one controversy after another tarnishing America's pastime. It sets a bad example for future generations of ballplayers thinking they need to use PED's to get ahead, and that since everyone is doing it then it must be okay.
If a top-tier player like Ryan Braun or Alex Rodriguez needs to be used to set an example, then so be it. No one player is bigger than the entire sport. The speculation needs to end, and the only way to accomplish it is to air out all the names and move on.