Roid Rage: One Fan's Perspective

Kevin H. MacLeanCorrespondent IMay 3, 2009

NEW YORK - JULY 15:  Commissioner of Major League Baseball Bud Selig speaks at a press conference before the 79th MLB All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium on July 15, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Bud Selig is a very proud man. Proud of how far the game has come in the past few years. Proud of how good a job he’s done cleaning up the game. Proud of how hard he had to work to overcome the big bad Player’s Union, to get all of those things he’s so proud of accomplished.

If you ask him, he will gladly tell you how proud he is.

All of that stuff about steroids? That wasn’t his fault. That was the fault of dishonest players, dubious trainers, Donald Fehr, and his cronies.

There is no way old Bud could have done anything or even known about steroids until now. At least that’s what Bud would tell you, between telling you about how proud he is.

Of course, a lot of people out there don’t believe a word Bud Selig or anyone in baseball has to say about steroids. They all pretty much say the same thing: “It wasn’t me, it was this other guy. Blame him.”

Blame. That is the dirty word that they are all so afraid of.

In a sport where records and history matter more than anything else, no one wants to be the next Pete Rose, the next Chick Gandil. But with Selig, it doesn’t matter if you believe him or not. If you don’t believe him, he at best looked the other way while steroids spread throughout baseball.

If you do believe him, he was completely clueless of the biggest known case of mass-professional-dishonesty in baseball’s history. Either way, there is nothing for Selig to be proud of.

It isn’t like this PED epidemic was much of a secret, either. Most players will be forthright enough to at least admit that they knew the use of PEDs was going on in pretty much every clubhouse throughout baseball over the last 10-plus years. 

Unfortunately, that’s just about all you can get out of players that you can believe these days.

Even when a player comes out and seems to want to tell the truth (A-Rod, Giambi), they still don’t answer all the questions; they still seem to be hiding something.

No one wants to be that first guy to spill the beans. No one wants to be the sacrificial lamb, so everyone lies and blames one another and calls each other a “cheat.”  They all become hypocrites, like Roy Oswalt.

“The few times we played them, when he (A-Rod) got hits, it could have cost me a game,” Oswalt complained. “It could have cost me money in my contract. He cheated me out of the game and I take it personally, because I've never done [PEDs], haven't done it, and they're cheating me out of the game."

If this is how Roy really feels, then why didn’t he speak up sooner, when many of his own teammates were caught, or allegedly caught, using PEDs? Why doesn’t Roy crucify Andy Pettite, Roger Clemens, or Miguel Tejada?

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If Oswalt was going to attack anyone about costing him money, shouldn’t it have been those closest to him? Not only that, but if Oswalt really cared about steroid abuse in baseball, why didn’t he do anything to expose these people when they were using?

If he really wanted to find out, he probably could have. The answer to all of these questions is obvious; Oswalt doesn’t care about baseball. He only cares about himself, his reputation, his stats, and his paycheck. Kind of like some other guys in baseball.

I do care about baseball. I don’t like steroids in baseball. But I also don’t like to see baseball destroy itself over witch hunts and past transgressions.

Detractors say, "What about the kids?" A message needs to be sent saying that steroids are wrong. Have past users do Public Service Announcements warning not to follow in their footsteps. Try to have Ken Caminiti's family do one. 

The league claims it is worried about the kids but has baseball really done one proactive thing to send a message to the public that it believes using steroids is dangerous?

We need to get PEDs out of baseball, but we also need to move on.

I originally called this article “A Fan’s Perspective.” I would like to think that this is how other fans feel about this issue, but I honestly question if it is. I look at steroids in baseball and I see the Mitchell Report, McGwire, Sosa, Palmero, Pettite, Giambi, Bonds, A-Rod, and all the rest and I say “Who cares?”

If PEDs were really this prevalent over the last 15 years of baseball, does it really matter who we catch? We are never going to know every single person who cheated and if so many people were cheating anyway, does it really matter? 

When do we get to the point where cheating became the norm? The biggest concern for many seems to be who gets into the Hall of Fame.

Most seem to think that the best way to handle it is to just keep those caught out of the Hall, but is that even possible? There is so much gray area. 

So many people have been looked upon as guilty, but their guilt has never been proven.  So far, we’ve been lucky that those who have admitted or been caught using PEDs have mostly been unknown or disliked stars. It is easy to condemn people like Gary Sheffield, Canseco, Bonds, and A-Rod when they are disliked by so many already. 

But what happens when a player everyone loves gets caught? Do we simply decide to look the other way if he doesn’t come out and confess? Should we then reward those who deny the obvious and punish the few with enough integrity to admit their dishonesty? Is that the sort of lesson we want to teach young athletes?

It seems to me the only way to handle it fairly is to either say “everyone is in or everyone is out.” I recognize how ridiculous that sounds but, otherwise, how can we be sure we’ve kept everyone who cheated out? 

Is it fair to keep A-Rod out for actually admitting steroid use when his name leaked off a confidential list and let someone like Ivan Rodriguez in? A lot of people would like to see that list made public now, as if someone’s name not being on it exonerates them from ever having used PEDs.

Current Hall of Famers are some of the most adamant about keeping these cheaters out of the Hall. How do we know that some aren’t in already? Steroids have been around for a long time. How do we know that Cal Ripken never used steroids? Tony Gwynn? Derek Jeter? Greg Maddox? Kirby Puckett?

Just because their name wasn’t on a list? Just because a trainer never outed them? The truth is, we don’t know and we probably never will. Everyone from baseball in the last 15-plus years is suspect—and they always will be.

A lot of fans don’t want to believe that. A-Rod will be coming back to the majors pretty soon, and when he does many fans on the road will chant “A-roid” and they will believe he had a great unfair advantage over all of the “clean” players on their favorite team.

I saw a poll on ESPN.com a few months ago, it asked if you would still root for your favorite player if you found out he used PEDs. Shockingly, the majority voted that that player would no longer be their favorite. 

Well then, I say to those people, you should start looking, because your favorite player probably did use PEDs.

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