MLB Steroid Era: Fans Partially to Blame

Steve HartlineCorrespondent IFebruary 15, 2008

I am so tired of all the talk of HGH and steroid use in MLB over the last three years, and I can't help but blame the media for most of the hubbub.  I'd really like some closure so we can all get excited about spring training.

Don't get me wrong, I do want baseball to clean itself up.  But I could care less about just how widespread the use of performance enhancing drugs is.  I could care less about who was juicing, who was creaming, or even whose buttocks received injections.

I don’t even care anymore who knew and who didn’t.  It was an exciting period of baseball, the Steroid Era.  Now let it be over.

Remember the bash brothers?  It was cool to trot the bases after a jack and bash your battery mate at home plate.  What about the Home Run Derbies?  Those were tremendously entertaining.  Remember McGwire in Fenway, or Abreu putting on a clinic? Heck, Glavine and Maddux even made a commercial that summed up the state of baseball: [We dug] the long ball.

It was fun back in 1998, remember?  We were entertained, and if people suspected doping, no one cared.

And until recently, still no one cared.  The owners didn't mind, obviously.  They concerned themselves with getting the fans in the seats.  Remember, we had just endured a long strike and the fans stayed away.

The NFL was increasing in popularity annually while the MLB was looking, well, old.   Owners needed some kind of spark, and the more numerous the home runs, the more the turnstiles turned.

Players quickly saw what was happening, and contracts reflected that change.  Such offensive fundamentals as clutch hitting, steals, doubles down the gap all became secondary.  It was those "touch 'em all" hits that gave the fans a rush and made the daily highlight reels. 

It was big money and if you could find a way to cash in, you'd sign up. 

The money became too ludicrous.  Who can blame the players if it meant going from a measly $3 to $7 million annually.  Or if you were a true superstar, $8 to $15 million. 

I can remember not too long ago when Ozzie Smith signed a $2 million contract with St. Louis and I couldn’t even fathom that.  So I don’t blame the players for getting while the getting's good.

Can you then blame the Players' Union?  Nope, not really.  If the players were happy, then the Union was happy.  If the owners were happy, then life was good. 

It was good to be in MLB, even if this was all to come crashing down sometime, someday, at some price.

So who do we blame?  All we have to do is look in the mirror for an answer.

We said what we wanted with our wallets.  We bought tickets and jerseys.  We discussed last night’s highlight reel at the water cooler. 

I think we ought to put some blame on ourselves, and assume some of the guilt.

And after the denial phase is over, let’s decide what to do to make amends.  We can start by letting Selig and the owners know that yes, we enjoyed the ride, but we too were wrong.  Tell them a strict black and white doping policy needs to be put in place and enforced.

We will forgive the players for doping, if they forgive us.