Nearly two weeks ago, Bud Selig put the hammer down on Alex Rodriguez and 12 other players for violating MLB’s drug use policy. While the other 11 suspended received 50-game suspensions, MLB slammed A-Rod for an unprecedented 211 games, which would include the rest of the 2013 season and all of the 2014 season. But unlike the other violators, A-Rod is currently fighting the ban with an appeal that will allow him to play until an arbitrator hears his appeal.
Personally, I do not condone the use of performance-enhancing drugs. I would love to see a game where every player trains himself naturally in order to reach ridiculous levels of success. I’d enjoy watching baseball played with passion and purity without the stench of steroids, HGH or other PEDs. Then again, I’d love to see a world without violence, pestilence, war, hunger, etc.
Baseball needs to get off of their high horse and embrace the past. When I say “baseball,” I do not merely mean the league itself. I’m including fans, writers, and players along with MLB.
Current players from Dan Uggla to home-run leader Chris Davis have called for stricter sanctions on PEDs, hinting at life-time bans for violators of the policy. Just today Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout proclaimed that any PED user should definitely be banned for life. Fans all over the country are riding on violators almost as passionately as they did when Barry Bonds broke the all-time home run record. Writers continue to refuse to vote in any players linked to the Steroid Era, including Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, whom merely 15 years ago brought baseball back from the brink after the strike of 1994.
In essence, baseball is trying to hide the past.
Hall of Famers took amphetamines, a drug now determined illegal in the game of baseball, and yet they get no protests, no broad calls for their records to be stricken from baseball history.
Hall of Fame pitching legends threw spit balls (another aspect of the game now outlawed) and are still revered in all walks of baseball life.
Ty Cobb, a notorious racist and alcoholic, beat a man with no arms to near death for heckling Cobb in the middle of a game. But Cobb is in the Hall of Fame while the all-time leader in base hits Pete Rose continues to be banned for life for gambling.
In all of these cases from the past, legends have been propped up the highest of high standards. For their era, each player dominated the game and broke countless records along the way. And while they broke the records, they all participated in actions that in almost every case would be worthy of lengthy suspensions and open to ridicule from the world of baseball today.
Yes, they used a form of drugs that arguably has a greater effect on their physical conditioning, strength, endurance, and other aspects of their game.
But so do amphetamines, which are also banned.
Why are Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens, masters of the Steroid Era, being judged differently than their predecessors? And why do their predecessors ignore the fact that they took what is now considered a PED?
Why are steroids worse than any of the earlier forms of baseball’s cheating past?
Let’s face it: baseball is a game of cheaters. From scuffing balls to injecting hormones, baseball has always been a game of cheaters. And if we learned anything from the fallout of these recent suspensions, it’s that what MLB is doing now is not working.
Worse than being inept, MLB is being hypocritical. One minute, McGwire and Sosa were gods. The next minute, they’re being tried on Capitol Hill for being listed in the Mitchell Report.
The witch hunt is tiresome and unproductive. Everyone needs to step back from the situation and look rationally at these players. Not only that, but baseball has to understand that while yes A-Rod did knowingly cheat, they have absolutely no precedent to suspend him 111 games longer than Melky Cabrera, the longest-suspended player in Major League Baseball history for using PEDs.
The act is old. The game is old. But the form of cheating is new. It’s part of the game, and while it is wrong, it should at the least be recognized by all of baseball from the fans, writers, current players, and the League. That is the best solution to putting an ugly past behind us.
Let McGwire and Sosa in the Hall of Fame. Bring in Bonds and Roger Clemens, too. The fact is that while these men cheated and lied about cheating, they still hold an unbelievable amount of records worthy of any era to be inducted as first-ballot members.
If baseball created a Steroid Era wing, they could finally make the history stick and make sure that no one ever forgot of that wretched era that is so very hated by the baseball landscape.
Those who reject the past will be doomed to have the past come back in a much nastier form in the future. In other words, get over it.
Learn from it and move on.