29 April 2008

Steroids in MLB: Should We Be Over It?

I found an old email that I'd written to a journalist at the Atlanta Journal Constitution, with his response (see below). It was written a year ago, before the Mitchell Report and all of its aftermath. Is this behind us, should fans simply return to their ballparks and TV screens? And should we reward Commissioner Bud Selig by putting more cash in the coffers of MLB owners? I say no.


Thank you for your article on Bud Selig. I probably have a slightly different take on the matter. Major League Baseball hid behind the Players Union as an excuse not to regulate their league for steroids. During the 90's, other sports were aggressively attacking this intervention into competitiveness. Fringe sports like Track and Field and Swimming were the most aggressive as the manipulation of the human body directly impacted results. Just ask Angel Myers Martino or Ben Johnson. I agree with you that Selig has always been a charlatan. Whether he and MLB willingly decided the benefits of players on steroids outweighed the impact on the integrity of the game isn't that important to me. Selig managed the league from 1992 until now, and I firmly believe all results and records should stand as they are recorded. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmeiro: all of these players played the game based on the rules and testing in the game at the time. The whole idea of interviewing players ten-fifteen years after the fact to determine whether they took steroids is preposterous. Even beyond the financial well-being of baseball, the Commissioner should be the steward and protector of the integrity of the game. Selig was there throughout, and he has approved of the results of baseball by his existence and inaction for the last fifteen years.

I would also suggest that baseball writers have no business jumping in after the fact to whine about steroid abuse in the 90's, unless they were too young and weren't covering baseball at the time. Why Bonds and not Ripken? Why Palmeiro and not Jeter? Why Sosa and not Chipper Jones? Because they look like they were on steroids? Because where there is smoke there's fire? I am a layperson when it comes to steroids, but in my mind we only need to look at Track and Field and Swimming to see the level of sophistication that abusers have gone through to beat the next test. Without real-time testing, then every single player is legitimate yet every single player is suspect.

I'm afraid that the baseball media collectively seem to be a cross between Aretha Franklin and the camel with its head in the sand, the diva that they so despise in players yet ready to bury their journalistic intuitiveness in darkness of ignorance. I do agree with you that Selig should show real leadership and passionately follow Bonds, but I also feel that he should step forward and do the following:
  • Take responsibility for the probably steroid abuse rampant throughout baseball in the 1985-2004 (give or take a few years)
  • Declare that no players who played during that time will be judged any more after the fact
  • State that every box score documented during this time period accurately reflects the performance of all players during this tiime
All of this was the greatest blight on the game of baseball since the Black Sox scandal and the segregation of MLB, and the top man has to be held accountable.

(from the AJC writer)

Craig ... Thanks for the comments. Because the baseball union has always been the most powerful of the pro athlete unions, it was always going to be an obstacle for MLB to get drug-testing. In fact, the union only started to cave after Congress got involved -- that's for all of the people who said Congress should worry about other things. That said, yes, the owners should have pushed harder. ... I also agree that the media should take a hit for this, and many of us have articulated that on the air waves and in print the last few years. But it's a fine line. The media gets criticized all of the time for throwing out accusations and things that aren't true or can't be proved. But now the media gets criticized for not writing more about steroids when, in fact, it would've been difficult, if not impossible, to have any evidence in a story. As for who has been the media whipping boys in all of this, it's pretty obvious why: Bonds is approaching the HR record, Sosa and McGwire assaulted the single-season record, Palmeiro was VERY high profile in his denial of ever using steroids before Congress, etc. I have never heard steroid accusations regarding Jeter, Ripken or Chipper. Trust me, it's not like any of us are covering for them.

(AJC writer today)
Craig, my thoughts haven't really changed on the subject, although to be honest with you I've hardly thought about Bonds or baseball and steroids lately. I think testing will continue to get tougher, but so will ways to evade it. I don't think sports will ever be clean. But there has been some measure of progress. The true judgement on people like Bonds and others will come with Hall of Fame voters. It's already happened with McGwire.

I've left the writer anonymous as I never had an intention to put his email here. I'm not sure how appropriate it is to email a journalist as simply a reader then publish the response, so I'll leave the anonymity. So, is all of this still much ado about nothing by me?


Blogger WillWonka said...

It is NOT much ado about nothing. In fact, I have boycotted Major Baseball now for over 8 years. I haven't paid a dime to MLB nor have I watched them on TV.

Until they correct the situation and yes, I am talking about a going forward basis on drugs, revenue sharing, contracts, salary caps AND salary bottoms, etc... I will not watch or support them.

Too bad, because I really loved baseball.

12:50 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com