Dear Steroids: Thank You

Colby PashContributor IMay 11, 2009

27 Sep 1998:  Mark McGwire #25 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits his 70th home run of the season as catcher Michael Barrett #5 of the Montreal Expos and umpire Rich Rieker watch during a game at the Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals defeat

Dear Steroids,

Gee, I don't know where to begin. I suppose I could start by telling you this letter is 10 years overdue. For this, I'm sorry. But it's been tough. I've had an incredibly difficult time with this.

I guess it would be easiest to start in 1994 when I was 11 years old. I remember Ken Griffey Jr was hitting the cover off the ball. I also remember the Montreal Expos were enjoying their best season in franchise history. They had as many All-Stars as any other team! It was looking like they might even have a shot at going to the World Series.

But then, in August, the Major League Baseball Players Association went on strike due to a salary cap proposed by the MLB team owners. No World Series was played. The Expos were ruined. They were disassembled the following season and the team failed to exist another decade.

Sadly, the strike was the longest work stoppage in MLB history. Even more sadly, baseball fans, men and children alike, turned their back on baseball and all its greed.

That is, of course, until you swept us off our feet. I still remember that magical summer of 1998 when you unknowingly won me over. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were lighting up the sky with moonshot homers. Their consistency and power were incredible! Sosa even hit 20 home runs in June alone!

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McGwire and Sosa were chasing Roger Maris' single-season home run record of 61 and it came down to the wire.

But as you remember, McGwire did it first. He finished the 1998 season with 70 home runs! Sosa only hit 66. Ken Griffey Jr hit 56, Greg Vaughn hit 50, Albert Belle hit 49, Vinny Castilla & Jose Conseco each hit 46, and Manny Ramirez & Juan Gonzalez each hit 45.

Those numbers seem a little inflated now, but back in 1998 I didn't notice your presence. Maybe I was naive, after all, I was only 15 years old. And, Steroids, please don't take offense to this, but if I had known you were behind these numbers, I probably wouldn't have been so excited.

Actually, I probably would have gotten pretty mad. But it was so exciting! I was blinded. I believed superstars Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were doing it with their own abilities, after all, I was just a kid. And with that blind faith, I fell in love with baseball all over again. How couldn't I? What a show!

I haven't missed a headline since. I saw Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 and I saw him break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record a few years later in 2006. Incredible! And without you, Steroids, this never would have happened.

I know, I know, you're probably not responsible for all of the power displayed over the past decade and I'm sure 1998 wasn't your first appearance in Major League Baseball.  But the summer of 1998 will forever be the summer that I reciprocated my love for the game. And don't get big-headed or anything, Steroids, but it's all because of you.

For that, Steroids, I would like to thank you.


Colby Pash