I. Hate. Steroids. Can't stand 'em. No other concept has so damaged an industry as “the cream” and “the clear” have damaged baseball. Steroids has become so entangled and crushingly synonymous with America's pastime that they have squeezed almost all of the positive sentiment out of the concept of baseball, crippling the game we love.
I hate them mainly because they take the focus off the game itself. I hate them because they ignited a witch hunt the likes of which no one has seen since the Red Scare.
I hate them because they got the government involved in something they have no business being involved in, considering the economic crisis at hand, recent rocky presidencies, and the countless military personnel we have abroad.
For the record, if you ask a government official about the BCS, the NCAA tournament field, or any other controversial sports issue, the only acceptable response they should be allowed to give you is “That’s not my jurisdiction.”
I hate them because no one is safe from judgment now. I hate them because they destroyed so many role models for so many Little Leaguers. Parents and coaches are now reluctant to point to any ballplayer and say "See? That's how it's done," because they don’t know who to trust.
It's downright awful. Just having the notion of steroids in the public eye erases any shred of credibility that a young player might have, even if he’s clean.
The worst part is that no one seems to agree on how to deal with prior stats of players who have tested positive.
I was reading Rick Reilly the other day and came across an email in which one reader actually had a solution that sounded plausible, which, as Reilly half-joked, is entirely too simple:
"If you get caught using performance enhancing drugs or are proven to have used drugs in the past, your records are expunged...All baseball has to do is the same thing with stats. If a player is found to have used a performance enhancing drug, his stats for that year would be expunged from the record books.
The evidence for use would only have to satisfy the commissioner, none of this proved-beyond-a-reasonable-doubt stuff. All of the appropriate records would go to the men who deserved them, 61 would mean 61 and everybody would know it. Not only that, but the sports writers would be off the hook for the Hall of Fame voting.
Barry Bonds' numbers before the clear were good enough to get him in the Hall of Fame, so the writers could vote for him with a clear conscience. It would also make it easier for the big names to come forward knowing their Hall of Fame chances weren't completely in the sewer if they admitted to use."
Sounds halfway decent, right? But there's no way Bud Selig would take a fan's suggestion and make it policy, even if it's simple and brilliant. If he did, he’d be accused of letting the fans run the league.
What he should do is change the suggestion a little and then take credit for it as an original thought (apologies to the guy who thought of it first, but that’s the only way you’ll see your plan implemented).
The latest word on the street: A-Rod's now being suspected of continuing his steroid use while in New York (a slightly more pressurized situation than his stay in Texas) as well as using them to make himself a top prospect in high school.
Just this morning, Manny Ramirez was suspended for 50 games for violating MLB’s drug policy. He claims the violation was not due to steroids, but who’s to say what’s really going on? These days, Albert Pujols is all we have left.
And if he gets skewered, fans will be left wondering if it’s even worth rooting for a specific player anymore. Might as well keep that jersey in the closet.
Steroids aren't the only concern these days, either. Recent reports stemming from the release of Selena Roberts' book about Rodriguez accuse him of intentionally tipping pitches to opponents when the outcome of the game was no longer in doubt or when the batter needed to get his stats up.
In an on-line poll, fans voted 63 percent-37 percent that steroids were the worse offense, but the pitch tipping allegations are more striking.
First off, if his team knew he was doing this, how did they feel about it? Yeah, it keeps the fan's attention maybe, but you risk losing the game. And it hurts your own pitcher's stats, which affects salary, which affects literally everything.
Who does this, really? Is there a batters/pitchers divide that fans aren't aware of? If you're the catcher, exactly how do you deal with that conflict of interest? I understand the value of keeping fans in the seats, but I'd be offended if I wasn't watching an honest game. After all, how do you combat that?
This Sunday will be the first time since Opening Day that I'll have the chance to actually sit down and watch an entire game straight through, but seeing the Red Sox face the Rays will be a different experience than it has been in the past.
As much as I would like to block out all the junk that's sabotaging modern baseball, it's become incredibly hard to watch a game just for the game itself. I'm not sure where we go from here, but if there is any way to redeem the game we enjoy so much, the game we molded into a hallmark of our country, we need to find it. Quickly.
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