Let's start at the beginning. That would be 1994.
Do you remember who won the World Series in '94?
I do—no one.
Because there was no World Series.
A labor dispute shut down the game on August 12th, 1994. The players weren't seen again until April 25th, 2005.
The game ground to a halt because the owners and the Players Union couldn't agree on—what else?—how to distribute the wealth. They subsequently struck a historic peace, and baseball went on to reach new heights of popularity and prosperity.
It was then that the steroid monster got out of its cage.
The owners and the Union were fully aware that the players had found a new edge. Weight training, a baseball taboo from the beginning of time, was now an acceptable practice.
Players got bigger and stronger with the new workout programs. But with weightlifting came other issues.
There's no way around the soreness that accompanies a good workout. Except, that is, for steroids—which help users recover faster from lifting sessions.
Thus was born the Steroid Era.
The owners were raking in the dough. The players were breaking records left and right. Chicks dug the long ball. So did kids.
There was no reason to to put the brakes on the good times—as long as no one complained.
The game itself, meanwhile, went to moral hell in a handbasket. The Union turned its head. The owners did the same. Commissioner Bud Selig, an owner himself, did nothing.
Now we know how many players were taking performance-enhancing substances, thanks to MLB's self-serving Mitchell Report. Or do we?
If we know of 80 or so guys for sure, I'm positive the actual number is far higher.
The players, for their part, made a deal with the devil. They put their health in jeopardy to enhance their careers—and give baseball a financial shot in the arm.
The Union did them a disservice by turning a blind eye. Ditto for the owners.
If you're going to keep guys out of the Hall of Fame and and put asterisks next to their accomplishments, go right ahead. It's deserved.
But what punishment will be dealt to Bud Selig, Donald Fehr, and the rest of the game's greedy establishment?
None, I'm afraid. And that's the real shame here.
As kid, I reveled in baseball statistics. As an adult, I still do. Or at least I did.
As it stands, I, along with millions of other fans, will no longer be able to enjoy this pure and simple pleasure.
Thanks, Bud. Thanks, Don. Kudos to all involved.
You all managed to ruin baseball—forever.