The Steroid Era has been one of the most exciting movements in all of sports. It provided baseball fans like me growing up as a kid in the 1990's with life-changing home runs to watch.
These unbelievable seasons of home runs, delivered by a lot of our favorite players, seems surreal in 2011. It's almost like it never happened.
When I was a youngster, I didn't understand the magnitude of what McGwire and Sosa, and Canseco did. Now in 2011, people are shocked by a 50-homer season.
Looking back, my top ten memories of notorious athletes as a baseball fan are as follows...
I like to think Ivan "Pudge" Rodrigez got his nickname because of his Bhudda-like belly. Regardless, the catcher who is now entering his 21st major league season with the Washington Nationals, was a headline in Jose Canseco's book "Juiced".
Canseco, a former teammate of Rodriguez, says he used to "shoot-up" with his Puerto Rican teammate on the Texas Rangers.
Pudge has 309 career home runs. In his best season, he hit 35 home runs.
This last season, Pudge only hit 4 homers.
Ivan's name I'm sure will be brought up after 5 seasons when the Hall of Fame is a possibility. Like many other "steroid" affiliated athletes, Rodriguez will be a question mark for who knows how long.
In conclusion, Pudge in his prime was one of the best at his position both defensively and offensively.
As for now, he plays on.
Manny sort of flew under the radar when he spent his years in Cleveland. Quietly, Ramirez had a couple 40-plus home run seasons, as well as several 30-plus homer seasons for the Indians.
He became a made man when he landed in Boston.
Ramirez stormed onto the scene in Boston and become part of an unbelievable 1-2 punch complemented by David Ortiz.
It's clear Manny took some form of supplement to help his body in the latter half of his career.
He's hit 555 home runs to date. All that's left of his career are the dreads on his head that have seen it all.
It's hard to hate Manny. Can we give him a pass and say he didn't know any better?
Either way, he's a big name who just like the rest on this list, cheated the game.
I didn't know who Bret Boone was until he came to San Diego Padres. He had come from the Reds for a quick one-year stint with the Pads in the year 2000.
After Boone hit 19 homers with the Padres, he landed in Seattle. Although he was never a teammate with Alex Rodriguez in Seattle, (they missed each other by one season with the M's) power numbers seemed to be the thing to do in the Pacific Northwest.
Boone shot from 19 homers in 2000 with San Diego, to 37 home runs in 2001 with the Mariners.
If it was a notorious slugger, I would let it slide as a remarkable turnaround year from '00 to '01. This however, was Bret Boone.
After Bret got caught fire in Seattle, so did the media of his sudden increase in power numbers.
Several years later, the result of steroids for this second baseman ended with a most memorable, sobbing press conference.
Rafael Palmeiro was one of those crafty lefties. He had a smooth stroke and when the ball went flying off his bat, it sure as heck looked pretty.
Palmeiro ended up hitting 569 career home runs. Not too shabby.
How many homers did he credit to juicing? I'm not entirely sure but if I had to guess I'd say after 1989, when he only hit 8 home runs in 559 at-bats, was when he realized he needed to step it up.
He hit over 40 home runs 4 times, and was like Pudge, mentioned in Jose Canseco's book "Juiced." It was a sad day when Palmeiro pointed the finger at the US Congress. He set an awful example for his fans, his family, but most of all, Viagra.
Can't believe one of the guys who I looked up to was a liar, a cheater, and a dreadful actor.
Jose Canseco put his name next to steroids in more ways than one. He will forever be the man that changed the game of baseball.
Some say he was a pioneer, some say he was a sellout. Some even say he was a great hitter.
Above all, Canseco was a guy who proved to be what steroids can do to a body that's maximizing size and strength.
Canseco used steroids for most of his career in Oakland. Canseco fell 38 home runs shy of the 500 club. He unlike most of the others, is not in the Cooperstown discussion.
Jose will be judged no matter what kind of baseball fans he runs into. All we know is, the man stands behind who he is...
If I knew who he was, I'd tell you....
Sosa was not only made into one of the most exciting baseball players in the Majors by the Chicago Cubs, but he was truly an icon.
Sosa was so popular he even became a Backyard Baseball character in the computer game that put baseball video games on the map.
He was a lovable caricature.
The year of 1998 in Major League baseball was Christmas every day for baseball goers. Sosa put up as many as 66 homers in the prime of his career.
Sosa and his NL Central buddy Mark McGwire were the face of the Major Leagues. They were the face because of the monstrous home runs the two would hit.
Sosa hit so many home runs, he turned a home run hit into a little hop step routine after he'd smack a ball past the Ivy at Wrigley.
His career was short lived after his stint with steroids. Everything ended up biting Sosa later in his career. He not only was caught taking steroids, but while still playing in the majors was caught "corking" his bat.
How many times did the guy who used to be on cereal boxes cheat the great fans of Major League Baseball?
A-Rod was one of the most disheartening endings to a mecca of steroid use. He wasn't on a couple of the big reports, and so people maybe didn't believe he did it.
Months and months went by where we were were pulled back and forth on whether we took him for his word or not.
Guess what? He let us all down.
Look at the facts. Alex went from 23 homers in 1997 to 42 homers in 1998. In '99 he hit 42 again, and in 2000 he hit 41.
For a natural shortstop, this was unheard of.
Dollars and dollars later, A-Rod came clean. He admitted in a press conference he cheated the game, and immediately was ripped a new one by the faithful of the game.
Alex is a perfect example of someone who conformed when they probably didn't need to.
Now, he sits on a pile of money and no one to share it with. How do you think he feels?
When Barry Bonds was prosecuted for taking steroids I didn't know what to believe. I was so mixed up in the thick of things involving the steroid scandal that I actually believed the guy hit an honest 73 home runs in 2001.
Obviously, I was wrong.
Bonds, other than the 73 he hit in 2001, never hit over 50 home runs in his career. How dumb were we to not realize what was happening the year he broke the record. We all were too busy admiring what he'd done.
Bonds was great for baseball no doubt about it. He almost accomplished everything he wanted to as a Major Leaguer too. Instead, the Angels robbed him of a Game 7 in the World Series and he never won a ring.
Most of the hatred toward Barry has passed and I'm glad. People throwing syringes at him during games crossed the line. No baseball player should be looking over his shoulder while playing the game.
To wrap, Bonds wins the bronze medal of being top 3 notorious steroid users.
I'll never forget McGwire's home run down the left field line. I was so happy for him. It was such a magical moment in sports. I hate to rob Mark of his accomplishments, but you can't help but point the finger at him.
The guy is half the weight he used to be. I respect that he's coming out and admitting what he did was wrong, but he was living a lie. Not many people can live a lie.
Canseco met McGwire and thus, the Bash Brothers came to be. If it weren't for those two, who would've known where steroids would've made a splash in the Majors.
Regardless, MAC ends up with 583 all-time home runs. He'll never make it into the Hall of Fame, but he'll always be associated with a burger at McDonald's.
I think Mark's in a good place now. He can really make a difference with the kind of professional baseball career he had.
I hope he continues to do so.
Roger Clemens and steroids have had quite the relationship to date. Currently, Roger is facing time in Federal Prison for perjury charges regarding his steroid use in Major League Baseball.
Did the "Rocket" become the "Rocket" because of steroids? How do we even begin to break down a pitcher who took them?
Do we look at ERA, or strikeouts, or even history of his velocity?
He really dug himself into a hole with the situation he's in with the law, but there's still no excuse for using steroids.
Clemens is now the face of the Steroid Era and he wasn't even roasted on by Canseco in his book "Juiced." He was even portrayed as an honest family man who worked extremely hard.
So where did it all go wrong for Clemens? Was it in Boston, New York, Houston? Who knows?
We wish you a happy and a healthy life, Roger...Your No. 1 spot on my list of notorious steroid users will always be here waiting for you.