This so-called “steroid era” in baseball has put more than a dark cloud over what used to be America's Pastime.
This dark steroid cloud came to a head this past weekend as another Hall of Fame class was inducted into Cooperstown. As Andre Dawson entered the Hall of Fame, his speech was dissected down to one little piece:
“Individuals have chosen the wrong road and have chosen that as their legacy. Others still have a chance to choose theirs. Do not be moved to the dark side. It's a stain on the game, a stain gradually being removed”
After I watched his 23-minute speech on TV, and the ESPN special that followed, I couldn’t help but wonder, myself, if we have seen the last legitimate inductee class.
HOF voters have time and again said they would never vote in a player with connections to steroids. With those connections becoming more evident as years pass, the superstars of the last decade may never be enshrined in gold.
I turned off the television, discouraged that the players I grew up watching would probably never make it to Cooperstown.
Then I saw something else.
Last night Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza threw a no-hitter.
It was astoundingly the fifth no hitter of 2010. Add another counting Armando Galarraga’s one-hit perfect game and that’s six. Not to mention the countless other close calls this season. Which leads me to my one and only major point of this article:
STEROID TESTING IN BASEBALL IS WORKING!
Yes, I will be the one who finally says it. Those who continually dog baseball and the MLB for letting the steroid era happen can now take a back seat to the realization that in 2010 the game we all knew and loved is finally coming back.
Being a true fan of the game, I am happy to see this happen. I will be the first to admit that baseball, to the casual fan, no longer possesses the same “sexy-ness” as before.
Home runs are down, scoring is down, batting average is down, RBI, hits, slugging percentage, and the list goes on and on.
However, the ERA is better, strikeouts are climbing, WHIP—for all you fantasy players—is better then it’s ever been. The game is changing, and once again a player's brain is outshining the opponent's brawn.
Boring, yes to some, but to others this is a beautiful thing.
The other side.
Barry Bonds. I feel like only in an article such as this can a name be considered a sentence and yet say so much.
I will not bore you with my theories on the man with the exception of saying that while I do not agree with what he did or did not do in baseball, he still has to go down as one of the best (not the best mind you) home run hitters of all time.
It does say something, though, that those who denied and denied steroid use (i.e. Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds) are no longer playing, while those who admitted (i.e. Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte) usage have calmly moved on playing the game.
And while I tend to try to not listen to the banter that players say when talking about steroids, after watching Garza’s no-hit performance yesterday, one particular quote from Bonds stuck in my mind.
"I don't know if steroids are going to help you in baseball. I just don't believe it. I don't believe steroids can help eye-hand coordination [and] technically hit a baseball."
Barry Bonds stated those words in a 2005 interview. I now wonder what he thinks today.
In 2010, as pitching numbers skyrocket, more then just batting averages and ERAs are dropping. So are suspensions.
This season only one player has been suspended for performance enhancing drugs. Compare this to 12 in 2005 after Bonds made his infamous quote. The writing is on the wall. Steroids in the MLB are all but gone and the near half dozen no hitters this season prove it.
Home runs are a dime a dozen . I agree they are flashy and entertaining to fans. However, I would much rather watch history be made with nine innings of perfection.
Yes, we may never again see home run records broken, but watching a game that’s real and fair is a small price to pay for the simple pleasure that is regaining America’s Pastime.