Before I begin, I want to make it crystal clear that I am actually quite an A-Rod hater, especially after his interview with Peter Gammons after admitting to steroids, where all he could say was "it was a loosey-goosey era."
I also hate Barry Bonds. Who doesn't? And I know steroids are illegal, but it's important to recognize that they weren't illegal when many players took them, and it's impossible to know who actually took steroids.
But, as A-Rod approaches his milestone 600th home run, I have heard a lot of chatter from baseball fans who want to diminish his statistics. While I understand their point of view, I just can't agree with diminishing a PED users' stats, milestones, and records anymore.
PEDs have, unfortunately, became a part of baseball. Its gotten so bad that there is an era, known as the Steroid Era, that defines the time in which steroid usage was at its peak. We will really never know how many players actually used steroids before, during, or after the Steroid Era.
The problem with PEDs and baseball is it is impossible to quantify how much PEDs helped players' performance. I heard one person say that at least 100 of A-Rod's home runs shouldn't be counted due to his steroid use, while another thought that since A-Rod hit 91 home runs while in Texas (he admitted to steroid use from 2001-2003 while he played for the Rangers), those 91 homers shouldn't count.
I have a big problem with that thinking. If you are going to diminish home runs, it has to be all or nothing. It is impossible to say whether or not steroids aided any of those home runs that A-Rod hit. In fact, there are actually a lot more factors that affect home runs than just PEDs. Here are just a few of several factors:
- Technology: Baseball bats have come a long way since the dawn of baseball. Now, bats are quite a technological marvel, and the bigger and better sweet spots allow for more power out of the swing. Imagine how many home runs Babe Ruth could have hit if he used the bats that players use today!
- Technology (part 2): Training (without PEDs) is so advanced at this point that players are bigger and stronger than ever. When comparing the accomplishments of players now to players in the early 1900s, it really is like comparing apples to oranges. Yet, we still need to name a home run king in all of baseball history. Is that fair?
- Stadiums: In just New York, the two stadiums are polar opposites. Yankee Stadium is notoriously small, while Citi Field is notoriously large. Can you say that some "cheap" home runs in Yankee Stadium are diminished because they would not have been a home run in any other park? Can you diminish the statistics of players who played in Coors Field when balls were flying out of there before they kept the baseballs in humidors?