Recently Mark McGwire admitted his steroid use and Jose Canseco has long been an admitted user and sang like a song bird to anyone that would listen that he was not alone. In the end, it seems that Canseco was more on the mark than off.
On a personal note, it’s a basket of rotten apples that the McGwire and Canseco led Oakland Athletics that first made me pay attention to baseball and the player, McGwire, that pulled me in to the of the magic of America’s past time are soiled.
McGwire said that he used steroids because his body started to break down. Canseco said he had absolutely no qualms about his use of performance enhancing drugs, also citing inherited health issues for his preemptive use. Well, one thing I can say with total confidence is that we will never see my all-time favorite baseball player, Ken Griffey Jr., on the list of steroid users. Unlike McGwire and Canseco, Griffey chose to play it clean and his career suffered for it missing long stretches of games due to injury. Without that time and those games missed, you could make a VERY strong argument that The Kid would be the all-time home run king and not Barry Bonds, yet another “dripping with guilt but not yet confirmed” juicer.
Beyond that, I don’t know where you draw the line on what is fair and foul in this issue. Regardless of the era, I think we would be naive to think that these players are first to look for a way to stay in the game or enhance their performance. There have always been and will always be players that will do something to gain an advantage over their competitors. Now, the more appropriate question may be when players start to juice up. There are plenty of documented cases of players using banned substances in college and minor league baseball and several accounts of high school football and baseball players using steroids to aid in their pursuit of an athletic scholarship. The issue of steroid use by high school students is a very dangerous one that I would dare say is still being avoided or looked away from by parents, teachers and coaches across the country. The pursuit of excellence is something that I will never discourage at any level of athletic competition. However, I have absolutely no tolerance for risking the health of a young athlete for the sake of a higher home run total or a few more pancake blocks.
This whole deal is A DAMN SHAME for me personally and sports in general. Truly sad…on so many levels.
Mark McGwire batting practice, 1998
Mark McGwire career stats
Jose Canseco career stats