ARod, steroids, and the greater effect

by on February 11, 2009 · 16 comments

Ok, I know you’re tired of hearing about the Alex Rodriguez steroid saga.  I’ve had more than my fill of it as well.  I don’t plan to rehash how Rodriguez has sullied the game, and how he is a liar, a cheat, etc. that has been trumpted across the blogosphere since Saturday’s announcement and Sunday’s “interview” with Peter Gammons.

What I would like to address is how this all is going to continue to affect the game in years to come (and likely many years down the road from now).

I’ll make a few bullet points, you can choose to agree or disagree – but I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments section.  This is such a polarizing issue for some that viewpoints can differ wildly.

  • Is Rodriguez still a shoo-in for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame?  He still holds a fairly reasonable shot at breaking many career and single season records between now and the end of his career, will be regarded as one of the greatest hitters of all time, but now also carries the stigma of using performance enhancing drugs.  Hall of Fame voters have already established their moral high ground in the case of Mark McGwire and they still don’t have any proof McGwire did anything!  Now, I’m no longer naive enough to believe that McGwire was clean, but if ARod gets in, why shouldn’t McGwire or Barry Bonds?  The premise that if a player admits their use and/or apologizes for it, that they should be held in higher regard than those like McGwire, Bonds, or Roger Clemens who are fighting accusations against them.  Regardless of admission or apology, cheating is cheating.  How can an apology change that?  Not to mention the fact that depending on how technical you want to get in your rules interpretation, the question remains – was it against the rules?  Not to mention, if ARod makes it in after using steroids, can we finally let Pete Rose into the Hall?  After all, he was only betting on games, not physically altering performance.
  • Speaking of Rose, is this any different than the rampant use of amphetamines or “greenies” that used to be prevalent in baseball?  Obviously you’re talking about a different influence on performance than steroids, but they’re still a banned substance now.
  • Looks like Jose Canseco may have been right after all, eh?  Canseco may be the only one who has told the truth throughout this entire affair, yet he’s been the one most vilified.  It is clear how grossly powerful the MLB Players Union is (overly so, in my opinion), and how much the players are willing to adhere to “the code” of not giving up your fellow players.  Can’t believe I’m saying this, but poor Canseco.  Would MLB even be having these discussions and increased testing and policy without Jose’s book?  Maybe they should make him the league’s new czar of testing and prevention?  Chances are good no one else knows more about juicing in baseball than he.
  • There is no longer, and probably shouldn’t have been before, any player in MLB that is above suspicion of using PEDs.  Most Cardinal fans would harm me for saying this, but I think many of my fellow writers would agree, that includes Albert Pujols.  Albert has managed to stay above the fray thus far, but with ARod going down – his free pass is up.  Folks are going to be looking at him with a scrutinizing eye.  Moreover, El Hombre has never made good on his “test me anywhere, anytime” promise.  I’m not saying he’s guilty, I’m just saying that presumed innocence has long gone out the window for most – if not all – MLB players.
  • Michael Wilbon called for Commissioner Bud Selig to take a strong stance on steroids (finally) on Pardon The Interruption on Monday, including removal of any records set by those proven or suspected of using PEDs.  How different would MLB record books look without McGwire, Bonds, ARod, Sammy Sosa, et al?  It bears considering, when you think that the record books could be full of these guys, but none would be in the Hall of Fame.
  • I believe part of any “stronger stance” should include penalties that fit the crime.  Although MLB would never be able to push this through because of the aforementioned all-powerful Players Union, the suspensions and bans should be far more serious if they ever plan to truly clean up the sport.  First positive test?  Your name and test result goes immediately public, and you’re banned for one calendar year.  Second positive test?  Good bye.  Hope the Frontier League will sign a known (and repeat) juicer.  I don’t care about false-positives or grey areas with supplements.  Know what you’re putting into your body.  Think twice before you believe someone who says they’re only injecting you with vitamin-C.  Have an orange juice instead.
  • I think one way to try to get things back on track?  Offer an amnesty of sorts.  Tell players they should come forward and admit past use.  Perhaps once the fans and Hall of Fame voters find out that, as the players claim, *everyone* was on some sort of chemical cocktail – public opinion of that era may change.  Perhaps those guys could get elected to the HoF if it were just another “era” of baseball.  Just like the dead ball era, or the juiced ball era, or the years when games were routinely thrown for bribes – we’ll have the steroid era – or perhaps their own wing of the Hall of Fame, separate from those who made it in “legit”.

Certainly no one will ever agree on the “right” way to deal with this pox on baseball’s history, but I’m anxious to hear the thoughts of my readers (all three of you) on the subject.

Writing about the Cardinals and other loosely associated topics since 2008, I've grown tired of the April run-out only to disappoint Cardinal fans everywhere by mid-May. I do not believe in surrendering free outs.
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