As I sit here writing this post I have a few thoughts concerning the ongoing steroid discussion as it relates to baseball and the stars in the sport. This is the first blog entry I have posted in quite some time but I have not had the time to do so. This may reflect my impatience with the entire subject and my desire to just see it go away. Some may also believe that it has to do with me being a Yankee fan and growing increasingly sick of seeing my team's players outed in various reports, books and other media. I believe, and hope, that I can be a little bit more neutral and impartial than that. At this point, I would be as sick of hearing about steroids and baseball if it were Boston Red Sox players being named rather than New York Yankees players. To begin, I would like to say that I am not defending or making excuses for the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs.
First, it has been obvious that there is certainly disparate treatment of athletes who test dirty depending upon what sport they participate in. It seems that this entire week has been devoted to the story of Alex Rodriguez and performance enhancing drugs. I am sure there are other stories in sports and this cannot possibly be all that is going on. We also have seen the same treatment of Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and many other baseball players. Some have escaped as much wrath due to admitting use and acting humble, see Andy Pettite. However, all of the baseball players named in any report will forever have their careers tarnished by this. In fact, the entire era is probably tarnished by steroids. It has even been said that none of these players should be allowed into the Hall of Fame because of steroid use. For a contrast I turn to the NFL. In the recent past Sean Merriman and Rodney Harrison have both been found to have used a performance enhancing drug. Neither one of them were put through the media circus or called before Congress as baseball players have been. They received a suspension and the biggest concern of fans seemed to be, when will they be back on the field? If there is any validity to the argument that we don't want our pro athletes using any PED so that children and developing athletes won't use them, then the same rules and scrutiny should apply across the board. Otherwise, we are really saying that it is really okay to use performance enhancing drugs if you play football, but if you play baseball it is a mortal sin to even consider it. And let's face it, where do you think being bigger, stronger, and faster will pay off the most?
People have now been stating that the remainder of the 104 names of players who tested dirty in the 2003 testing should be released to the public as Alex Rodriguez's name was. There are a couple of objections I can see to this. First, this testing was done with the promise that it would be confidential, would be destroyed, and there would be no punishment assessed for a positive test. It was absolutely wrong for any name, including Alex Rodriguez, to be released to the media, period. It was through these guarantees that players agreed to that round of testing to begin with. If the players cannot trust ownership and the league when it comes to these positive tests, can they trust them on anything else? For all of those who think that we have the right to know all the names, I will put one question to you. If you took a medical test at your job, say for drugs, based on the promise that it would be confidential, and there would be no punishment for it, would you believe that it would be justified to publish your positive test result at a later date? To add to the problem, your name is then trashed in the media. While most of us would not have to worry about the media, you have to admit that it would be embarrassing. Would you have any trust for your employer at that point? Additionally, if the other 103 names were released does anyone believe that would end the steroid era and no other player would be suspected? There is no way. Releasing the names would do nothing except to provide tabloid fodder as no one can be punished for these tests anyway. Truly, the only person wronged by the release of just one name out of 104 is Alex Rodriguez himself because he is now being singled out. Who knows, even if they all came out he may still receive the most attention, but at least would be one among many.
Another subject that has been continually coming up is Cooperstown. There have been many columnists and fans that say that no player ever tied to the steroid scandal should be eliminated from consideration from the Hall of Fame. At this point that list would include many of the best players of this era. The Hall of Fame is supposed to be a museum to the greatest achievements on the field. The simple fact is that a lot of the greatest players of this era have been tied to steroids, or had their name mentioned in relation to the subject. This naturally leads to the question of what standard of do we use to keep players out of Cooperstown based on steroid ties. Would it be as little as an individual said they did it or would it have to be based upon a positive test? Clearly there should be more than just the word of one person to keep a person out of the Hall forever. It actually may just cast a doubt over every player who has played during the steroid era. If all players are guilty by association, do we then keep them all out of the Hall? That would certainly seem like an extreme solution. To me the most reasonable solution seems to be to do as Bob Costas has suggested and put a sign up indicating what the steroid era was and what it signified to the sport and the nation. People then could make up their own minds as to what it would mean to them. This would also ensure that players who have accomplished some astounding feats would be enshrined. Let's not forget that there have been other ways of cheating in the past and I am pretty sure there are some Hall of Famers who have engaged in some form of cheating.
Here's to the end of the entire steroid saga and a return to our great national past time in the very near future.