Well it’s summertime in Lexington, and there’s absolutely nothing to do. So with the sports world, per usual, producing storyline after storyline, I thought it prudent to fire the WIRE back up and see where it takes us. Perhaps we will, a time or two, venture outside the sports realm to discuss profound matters of science, philosophy, and (popular) culture, but I would say we will keep our respected opinions in the world of athletics. And even from time to time, you may see a guest author share their thoughts about nothing in particular.
I want to talk about drugs. It’s a topic that’s never far from my mind. This week, news broke that Manny Ramirez, the future hall of famer and what some consider to be the best right-handed hitter of his generation, had been suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball by testing positive for an illegal substance, one apparently useful for restoring testosterone which is drained after using performance-enhancing steroids. Not only does Ramirez’s suspension wreck the Dodgers’ fantastic start, but it taints the name of one the most productive, and mercurial, sluggers of this generation. Palmeiro, McGwire, Bonds, Rodriguez, and now Ramirez…it seems none are safe from the evil black cloud of steroids. I remember Ramirez’s rise to prominence with the Cleveland Indians during the mid-1990s; he combined with Jim Thome, Albert Belle (remember him?), Omar Vizquel, and Kenny Lofton among others to help Cleveland challenge for two World Series during the decade. I also remember Ramirez teaming with David Ortiz and the rest of the 2004 Boston Red Sox to storm back from a 3-0 deficit to the Yankees to win the 2004 ALCS, in my opinion the best postseason series I’ve ever seen in any sport, on their way to breaking the Curse and winning the World Series. Thank God I’m not a Red Sox fan, or I would have to be answering questions about the legitimacy of that world championship, and the one in 2006 as well.
Now Ramirez is yet another name to be stained by the scourge of steroids. I will never understand the pressures that professional athletes face (unless I go pro in killer pong), but to potentially compromise your name and reputation for a little extra muscle and a little better hand-eye coordination is preposterous to me. I hope all professional athletes understand how much of a role model they are to millions of kids in this country, but I feel sometimes they take the sentiment of Natalie Portman when considering this topic.
Baseball has a lot of problems (salary inequalities, the Pirates’ struggles, etc.), but I don’t think there’s one problem plaguing any sport out there more than steroids are plaguing baseball. It’s only a matter of time until another major slugger falls prey to the ills of performance-enhancing drugs.