Saturday, August 1, 2009

Steroids Were Just Part of the Game

Any baseball fans out there getting a little tired of the whole steroid issue? Don't get me wrong, I think it's awful that the game has been tainted so much by the addition of performance enhancing drugs. But I would like to look at it a bit differently for a minute.

What I'm beginning to tire of especially is the focus on the individual players and how they cheated the game and should never be considered for the Hall of Fame, etc., etc. I am going to say this, and I hope it pisses you off. The more names that come out, the more I say the individuals did not cheat. I repeat, the players who used performance enhancing drugs during the steroid era of baseball did not cheat. They may have broken the law, but so did the entire coke-head 1986 New York Mets. But like the Mets, they did not cheat. Just as the players who used "greenies" to make an often unbearably slow game a lot more adrenalized broke the law but did not cheat.

I am tired of sports fans and members of the media who are so excited to throw out the word "cheater" in relation to a player who has been linked to PED's that they sound like little kids in the playground getting their cooties shots and yelling "nanny nanny poo poo" at the pariah of the day.

Here's my take. How is it cheating if there was never any rule against it? I know, I know, steroids are against the law, but that has nothing to do with baseball. To be perfectly clear, I HATE the fact that steroids and HGH have contaminated the game of baseball. I don't want professional wrestlers taking the place of fundamentally sound and savvy ballplayers. But it's the game of baseball as a whole that cheated us, not the individual users.

I include all the players who never used anything but never came forward about the invasion of these history changing substances into their profession. I blame the players' union for doing nothing but taking the money that rewarded the best players who were often the dirtiest as a way of bettering contracts for all their players. I blame the owners for turning a blind eye because, hey, the long ball put a lot of asses in the seats. And Bud Selig? Sorry, but you will forever go down as the commissioner of the steroid era. That All-Star Game that ended in a tie is looking like a parking ticket now.

So as fans and media members, please stop calling every player who has been linked to PED's a no-good cheat and a bum and a liar. First of all, as far as the positive test results from 2003 go (whole other issue there, but let's just say none of these names should ever have been leaked, and whoever is responsible should face criminal charges), they may indicate other substances besides steroids such as andro and other legal, over-the-counter supplements. So unless we know for sure that a player used steroids or HGH, don't just bunch them up with the rest and assume they did. But more importantly, it doesn't matter.

The use of steroids was more than tolerated during this era. It was rewarded with huge attendance at games and great ratings and astronomical contracts. It was encouraged - even if it was only indirectly - by owners, and the union, and the media, and the public and even clean players turning a blind eye, and by the immense success the entire sport enjoyed as a direct result of the widespread use of PED's.

Baseball players during the steroid era adapted to the game by taking steroids. There were plenty of players who didn't (but seriously, I don't care who you name, even if it's Griffey or Jeter or anyone else, I wouldn't be surprised if they were using, too), but they are guilty, too, because they only looked out for themselves, not the game. They put their heads down and said, "Well, I know I'M playing the game the way it's supposed to be played," and just hoped things would clean themselves up. I'm not saying they should have "ratted", but the responsibility for the integrity and honor of the game of baseball falls on all of Major League Baseball. So those that did nothing about the use of steroids - players who used or didn't, agents who represented players who used and knew it, managers, coaches, and owners - are all partly responsible for the fact that baseball got so - for lack of a better word - dirty.

So stop looking for scapegoats and individual PED users and accept the fact: it can't be cheating if it's an accepted part of the game.

Now the NBA better get their act together because I would bet almost anything that Dwight Howard has used PED's.

And...scene.

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