I asked my Mom what she thought about steroids in baseball, and she laughed. It sounded like a, "I don't really care" laugh, so I pressed her and she said that she thought it was bad.
She thought it wasn't good that some players had an unfair advantage.
It's refreshing to ask people who don't really care about baseball what they think about America's past-time. Mostly because they don't have a vested interest, it helps you to realize that some things in life are more important than asterisks in the record books.
The thing that struck me though was that it seems everyone has this same response hardwired into their brains: Drugs-Bad.
People will throw up their hands even at the thought of performance enhancing drugs without having thought through their response. They just "know" it's wrong.
Millions of people will wake up tomorrow and not even care or know that Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire used PED's. Yet for the people who are close to baseball, their world has been rocked.
The biggest beef has been the lack of disgust displayed by people with regards to Sosa's outing as a juicer. The "Culture of Acceptance" has shocked the old guard, leaving them sputtering their outrages to an audience that they feel just doesn't understand.
That's wrong, we understand, we've just moved on.
Swallowing story after story of baseball writers' disdain for juicers and the people who won't join them is getting painful.
Make no mistake about it, I am not condoning the Steroid era of baseball
I'm tired of having the papers and websites holler at me from their soapboxes. They haven't realized the world has shifted out from underneath their feet.
I'm not here to discuss the ethics of steroids, I'm here asking why I'm being forced to read story after story, all of them reading the same. Objectivity has been completely thrown out the window.
Even when you read a story about the War on Drugs, a mention is at least made to the low income situations that cause drug dealing in the first place. No one deals drugs because they're rich already, just like baseball players wouldn't have used them if they didn't need to squeeze big contracts from their teams, knowing their window of opportunity was shrinking.
That's gone from these baseball stories.
I feel like I've been beaten over the head by the MLB rule book. The same point has been driven into me so many times I feel like I owe sport reporters dinner or something.
When they ask why baseball players cheated, it's greed or egotism that is usually the rationale. But it's been assumed, and not ascertained by asking the players who used PED's. Jose Canseco's revelations must be taken with a grain of salt as undoubtedly he has been driven to a state of greed that may rival his own playing days.
Who wants to read the story about how a player politely declined an injection from Canseco? It doesn't sell books. Since the secrets of the steroid era still remain mostly hidden, the truth will too.
Why has no one thought of pride and duty to the fanbase as a rationale? Player X is just trying to sate the appetites of fans who demand success from them and X has no choice but to satisfy them or lose his job. There is no person out there that would stand idly by as their livelihood evaporated.
Accept this: Human beings make human mistakes, and no amount of bible thumping will change the past or change the way I perceive the game.
If PED's make you mad, be mad. If it makes you disappointed, be disappointed. But don't let something you read dictate your response. Let it influence it, but never let it envelop it.
Sports journalism is not "Big Brother", we don't have to obey it unquestioningly. We must follow our feelings instead of just regurgitating other's opinions.
If there's a culture around baseball right now it's of old men feeling betrayed by players who never owed them anything, but tried to give them something anyway. My tiny violin plays accordingly for them. Remember that it will be our generation that defines this era.
I feel like steroids created a purer and more entertaining game despite their negative impact.
Drug testing now is so stringent that Nyquil may soon be outlawed. More importantly, players have seen the benefits of working out and now do so fervently that the days of overweight players are slimming.
The new embracing of physical fitness has given us a generation of athletes that rival those in MLB's sister organizations NBA, NHL, and NFL; and the new drug policy keeps it clean.
Right now baseball is as airtight as it's going to be; but every time men in power feel they have been slighted, they release a name from the dreaded List. Holding that kind of power over a man's life and having such retribution at human fingertips is maybe more unethical than PED's in a clubhouse.
Letting names slip is just proof in the fallibility of man, that we are capable of mistakes and should be forgiven. If smart, educated, people can violate legal rights, then how immoral is using PED's? Who has the authority to dole out punishment if even the purest falter?
The "Culture of Acceptance" isn't bad, it's called making your peace with the Steroid era. Never forget, but don't stand there and throw tomatoes at Sammy Sosa for being human.
Just accepting opinions from others is naive. Question the validity of the source and think for yourself. The present situation is an exercise in your free will, don't allow yourself to be fed your beliefs.
Think about how you've been affected personally; and realize that the drug using era of baseball will never be replicated.
If you dig deep enough into your own emotion maybe you'll find the empathy that others have tried to smother. If you made a mistake, would you want it to define your entire existence?
How quickly we forget the people inside the stories. It seems that people have developed a vendetta for players who did nothing but make them happy. That it was predicated on a lie seems to be the catalyst for hate.
That's fine, no one likes to be duped, to be made to feel stupid. We were never lied to though. We observed the changing bodies of major leaguers and lapped up their exploits. The players may have lied personally, but deep down we knew what we were getting. We just didn't believe it until it was thrown at our faces.
We'll never see anything else like it again, so keep the good, forgive, but don't forget the bad, and don't join the lynch mobs forming in ballparks nationwide.
This is not a popular view, but I didn't write all of this to be popular. I wrote it to be considered by you and for you to think free of the herd. I'm not here to vindicate cheating or rationalize it. All I want is people to recognize that there's another way to deal with the situation without being a hypocrite.
Players wouldn't shy away from revealing their cheating if there wasn't such a negative stigma with the ensuing holier-than-thou diatribe that follows. If we could sit down and deal with the problem with some emotion other than anger, we might get more results.
Bud Selig should invite Sammy Sosa over for cocoa and chat about his future status. It sounds stupid, but so is burning players in effigy with columns that spout hate like a machine gun.
That's it. I'm done.
I'll never forget that players cheated, but as of today I will forgive and wish them the best.
Does that merit Hall of Fame consideration?
I want an impartial mediator in that discussion, someone who hasn't felt the burn of betrayal. A Hall of Fame decision shouldn't be solely emotional, just like it shouldn't be completely devoid of feeling.
I've never had thousands of people living and dying with my every swing and I'm not perfect, so I feel unworthy to judge.
I'm human and so are the "villains" of the steroid era.
Let's do them the dignity of being smart enough to remember that.
(Note: I'm going in for surgery tomorrow so I won't be able to really debate much of this. If you think I'm right, good. If you think I'm wrong that's even better. If you think I'm an idiot you're probably right. Thanks for the input.)