Alex Rodriguez Fallout: Is There Any Stopping Steroids?

Glenn DarbySenior Analyst IMarch 27, 2008

Alex Rodriguez is about to sit down in front of the camera and clear his name. 

He is following in the footsteps of fellow future (or not) Hall of Famer, Roger Clemens. 

He will sit down and call Canseco a liar just like Rafael Palmero did when he denied Canseco's allegations. 

He will claim that he worked hard and is simply blessed with the natural ability to hit baseballs 500 feet. 

And you know what?  I will believe him.  I don't believe Bonds or Clemens, but I believe in Alex. 

As a Mariners fan in the '90's, he broke my heart when he left Seattle. 

Every time he would stroll past us in Surprise during Spring Training without so much as a wave, I tried to hate him. 

Finally, when he was traded to the Yankees, I thought I would be able to hate the guy.  I don't though. 

I may call him Gay-Rod.  I may like to watch him sissy-fight his way to first against the Red Sox every now and again.  I may have enjoyed every excruciating pop fly on his way to 500 home runs. 

In the end though, I think he is the greatest player alive and one of the greatest to ever play the game.  Say what you want about him, his numbers have always been amazing.

Which, of course, is an argument quickly nullified if this alleged drug use does turn out to be fact. 

The question that I have grappled with over the years of the "Steroid Era" is this: What makes steroids different than any other medical advancement?

Purists will tell me that steroids are a way for the ballplayer to cheat.  He can hit the ball harder or throw it faster, giving him an unfair advantage. 

I'll have to check my stat-book, but I'm willing to bet that Bonds has a couple home runs off Clemens over the years and that Clemens has struck him out at least once. 

The point, of course, is that it is not an unfair advantage if everyone is doing it.

Doctors will tell me that steroids are dangerous. 

Acne and "'roid rage" are not the only side-effects.  Tumors and jaundice are always a possibility, and there is death. 

Of course, that doesn't stop doctors from prescribing them for patients for things ranging from an infection all the way up to cancer.  They are hormones and, just like anything else, are bad when used too much.  So why not control it?

I've heard people refer to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa as super-human during their home run race.  These men bulked up and destroyed baseballs, crushing home run records. 

I've also seen Curt Schilling pitch with a tendon sutured to his bone and a guy named Tommy John step back on the field using ankle tendons in his shoulder.  Something isn't natural about these guys either. 

What killed a guy's career 80 years ago wasn't as debilitating 20 years later.  What killed a guy's career 40 years ago wasn't as debilitating as 20 years later.  Today, as old age threatens to kill a guy's career, he juices up and keeps on going.

Everyone loves a performer.  Everyone loves a great story.  Everyone hates a cheater. 

So while the media screams and shouts and Congress bloviates their way on to your TV, baseball fans just shrug. 

Fans have seen it all: Pitchers dominating in huge stadiums during the dead-ball era.  Hitters with advantages such as short porches and lower mounds.  Dreadful multipurpose stadiums with 90ft backstops and acres of foul territory.  The bloated batting statistics at Coors' Field.  The scheduling imbalance caused by inter-league play.

Baseball fans love whatever is good for the game. 

We can act like we are traditionalists and hate progress, but the DH "experiment" continues, and every drug known to man has flown through at least one baseball clubhouse over the past 100 years.   Amphetamines used to be the drug of choice.  Before that it was coke, and I'm sure there was something else before that.

And while Selig races to ban every new GNC product in hopes of avoiding Darryl Kyle-like incidents, fans continue to expect super-human performances on the field. 

The War on Baseball Drugs and the War on Drugs are very similar in the influence they have. 

Nixon made every guy with a buddy in Vietnam a dealer and by the time Reagan started putting the breaks on the drug trade, the only thing he did was made those who were able to slip through richer. 

In baseball, those who cheat and get away with it are rewarded.  It's similar to the free market. Business gone unchecked does a good job regulating itself, but when restrictions come along, those who follow the rules lose money to those who skirt them.

If a baseball player has a doctor who says it is okay for them to use steroids, who is MLB to stop them? 

Those who buy it without a prescription (or obtain prescriptions from vets and other weird doctors) should be prosecuted by the law and not MLB.  Other than that, let the doctors continue to make us better athletes. 

They've been doing it forever.  No sense in stopping now.    


The latest in the sports world, emailed daily.