Over the past few years, we've learned a few things about how to handle steroid allegations in baseball.
For the sake of this argument, I'll go with my gut and assume all mentioned steroid allegations are true.
What Not To Do
Deny. Don't do it.
Baseball fans are smart and our intuition can go a long way. As a professional baseball player, your entire career has been documented by statistics and photographs.
The Pittsburgh Pirates' Barry Bonds appears pre-pubescent in comparison to the San Francisco Giants' Barry Bonds.
Similarly, Brian Roberts' 2004 offensive production (4 HR, .273 BA) is dwarfed by his 2005 offensive production (18 HR, .314 BA). Side Bar: Do you recall the attention Roberts received early in the 2005 season? Maybe that should have been a red flag...
As observers, we cannot be certain that a player has used PEDs from either statistics or photographs. It's been documented that a hitter has his best chance to break out at 27-years-old. It's not uncommon for a ballplayer to abandon stolen bases and triples in lieu of dead-pull long balls.
But if suspicious photographs and statistics are paired with overwhelming evidence, such as an accusation in The Mitchell Report or a 50-game suspension by Major League Baseball, drug-use becomes undeniable to onlookers.
In addition, we've learned that people talk. Brian Roberts was found out by former teammate Jason Grimsley. Roger Clemens' use was confirmed by former teammate and close friend Andy Pettitte.
Recently, according to an MLB.com article, Clemens upheld his denial of steroid use. Please, alleged steroid users, don't insult our intelligence by continually denying and drawing out your allegations. Fess up. I promise, you'll sleep better at night.
What To Do
Accept and move on.
While most baseball fans are smart and intuitive, less is said about our short term memories. We tend to forgive easily and continue watching if an accused ballplayer addresses his allegations quickly and professionally.
Andy Pettitte did it. He quickly addressed his accusations by admitting and moving on. He's playing baseball today. His drug-use hasn't been forgotten and will most certainly surface again, but for the time being he has continued on with his career and with his life.
The baseball world has, in my opinion, surprisingly forgotten Brian Roberts' steroid accusation and subsequent admission. This reinforces my claim. Though he admitted to only a single steroid use, which is most likely false, baseball fans have almost completely disregarded his cheating.
Jason Giambi's acceptance is the most popular example. He didn't exactly confess to using steroids, but he did hold a press conference and confessed his shame in a plea for forgiveness. He, too, is playing baseball today and most certainly sleeping better than Barry Bonds–even with his .208 batting average.
The most important part of accepting and moving on is the sincerity of it. As an accused ballplayer, you must truly be sorry for cheating to achieve empathy from your fans. As I've said, baseball fans are intuitive.
Alex Rodriguez has been buried by the media and the fans, and I believe it's due to a lack of sincerity. A-Rod carries himself as if he's bigger than the game, and fans recognize that. And after his Details magazine photo shoot, his vanity is undeniable.
So there you have it.
There are two clear-cut endings for alleged steroid users. Choose wisely.
I'm certain there are examples that negate this theory. Please comment below.
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