Whether it’s the cream and the clear or straight up needle in the butt, steroids and HGH have continued to find a way to haunt Major League baseball. Dating back to the days of the Bash Brothers with Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco in the 1980’s, up to now with Ryan Braun and his FedEx fiasco.
Performance enhancing drugs (PED) have brought out a schism of sorts for sports fans. I remember as a 12-year-old watching McGwire and Sammy Sosa singlehandedly bring baseball back from the dead after the strike with the home run chase. I sat in my basement night after night watching on my six-inch, black-and-white TV, anxiously awaiting the big moment when the home run record fell and Roger Maris would drop to second for the first time since 1961.
In baseball, more so than any other sport, records are sacred. That was until McGwire, Sosa and Barry Bonds. PEDs were found to be so rampant that the solution was drug amnesty. The Mitchell Report, the official report done on the topic for Major League baseball, found numerous big name players as well as no-namers. The only fix was to say, “OK, we know ya’ll are stickin’ needles in each other, but knock it off. We won’t say anything but get clean.”
I wish I could say the results were surprising, but seeing Sosa drop 40 pounds in one offseason was more of a confirmation than a shock. Players like Brett Boone went from a nobody to MVP contender then all the way back to nothing. The further we have gotten away from “chicks digging the long ball,” the more we want to believe that it’s getting better.
Then comes Braun. 20-1 abnormal testosterone levels.
He’s not Barry Bonds, he is nice to people and people like him. Coming off his NL MVP winning season as he brought the Milwaukee Brewers back to relevance, his validity has now been brought into question and the cloud of doping has once again enveloped the sport.
His appeal was approved due to a technicality. The drug tester wasn’t able to get it in the mail on time and had to store it over the weekend at his house. There was no evidence of tampering or problems with the sample, the only problem was that not all of his t’s were crossed and i’s dotted.
On the surface, we are all shocked and horrified that players continue to cheat. But when we are honest with ourselves, we knew it was still there and most of us don’t really care. Unless there is going to be a Pete Rose style punishment and banning players outright actually becomes a reality, we just want to see the long ball.
If baseball wants us to take the sport seriously again, drop the hammer and kick the bums out.
By Jonathan Boldt