For The Good of America's Favorite Pastime: How Baseball Can Win Back Their Fans
It is another sad day in baseball, hardly a surprise really.
The NY Times reported earlier today that Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz are among the approximately 100 MLB players that tested positive for steroids in 2003. The sad truth is, these reports will soon make it only a sad day for baseball, not sport in general. With each report that divulges a new guilty player every few months, there is less surprise, and the overall interest in the sport dwindles.
For the sake of baseball itself, this needs to stop. Every time fans begin to focus on the game and enjoy the game for what it is, they receive a harsh reminder that all is NOT what it seems and the sport is actually in quite a sorry state.
Today is a perfect example. The trade deadline is less than 24 hours away. We should be eagerly anticipating Roy Halladay finding a new address or one of the other contenders finding a way to match the Phillies acquisition of Cliff Lee. Instead, we now have to deal with all the hoopla that will surround Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz after they were busted.
The solution to stop this mess is quite simple really. It just requires people that are more concerned about the game than themselves. That is the difficult part.
The first and most important step is to have ALL the names of the players on the doping list released when this season is completed. These mid-season distractions from the game are absolutely unnecessary and almost unwarranted. Bud Selig should issue a statement saying that the names will be revealed when the season ends. This will allow the players and fans to focus on the rest of the 2009 season, deal with the steroid issues in the offseason, and perhaps begin the 2010 season with a completely fresh perspective.
The first thought that will probably cross the minds of most of you when I say that all the names be released is, "What about the privacy agreement these players agreed to when they took these tests?" My response is, the game is above the players within it, and it is extremely vital that it be treated this way in baseball's darkest times.
The players need to realize this as well. When someone has a serious problem, the first step is admitting it. If the players can consent to having these doping lists revealed, this would at least give them the opportunity to redeem themselves since fans would recognize this as an effort to save America's favorite pastime.
Fans would finally be given what they deserve in the steroids era, the truth, the WHOLE truth. It would also show the fans that they are valued and that the money they put into the game will not be put to waste.
The next step is to make steroid use the most important rule in the clubhouse. Gambling currently serves as the most forbidden sin and Bud Selig needs to acknowledge that it is steroid use, not gambling, that is indeed the biggest problem in baseball and therefore the most important rule to abide by in this sport. Now don't get me wrong, gambling on the sport you are associated with is a terrible thing to do, but no one can argue what the biggest problem in the game is today.
The next step is closing the case on Hall of Fame eligibility for the stars of the steroid era. I believe the asterisk has to be enforced. Let's face it, players like Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez are supreme talents and they deserve to be recognized. All players found guilty of steroid use that have put up Hall of Fame worthy stats should be eligible, with an asterisk.
Future fans need to know that certain players did put up some incredible stats. However, they also need to know that those stats were put up courtesy of some form of illegal assistance.
All this being said, if a voter decides that they don't want to vote for someone that has done steroids, they are perfectly within their rights to make that choice. Steroid users should deal with whatever negative externalities created by their own irresponsible acts.
Personally, I considerED Manny Ramirez as the best hitter I had ever seen. After today, I refuse to make that claim. However, if I were given the opportunity to vote him to the Hall of Fame with an asterisk, I would gladly do so.
Now lets move on to team-related debates. Should the Red Sox title in 2004 even count? It absolutely should because of the fact that their opponents were probably doing it too. Let's put it this way, if theirs doesn't, then there's probably a bunch of other teams that should have their titles wiped out as well. This should not be done and will be virtually impossible to do if they try anyway. More than anything else, a franchise should not be penalized for the acts of an individual acting in his own interests.
These steps may be viewed as unconventional, but if the sport is viewed as completely clean down the road, these steps would be more than revolutionary.
I hope that these steps are taken to lift baseball from its dark days. If these drastic measures are not taken, I simply cannot see how baseball can remain a marquee sport in the United States of America.
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