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The great baseball debacle: Steroids and the Hall of Fame

Whenever you see a huge mountain of muscle, or a guy that looks like he ate a bus, the first thought to cross most people’s minds is: “That dude is on Steroids.” With an exception to .01 percent of these people, you’d probably be correct. Most people that size have indeed taken a performance enhancing substance, whether it be basic like creatine, or more serious like andropen or Deca. Looking at professional sports, this is a topic that has been making appearances more and more often due to this past winter’s media frenzy.

When ESPN started running the A-Rod Marathon, the crap hit the fan, so to speak. His stalker paparazzi, Selena Roberts, broke a story on Rodriguez testing positive in 2003 for a steroidal substance. A-Rod then admitted it, which was both good and bad.  He “came clean” and many people respected him for basically coming out and saying what most of America had suspected for a long time; anyone in professional sports can be suspect of taking a PED (performance enhancing drug). 

The bad side of that story was that Roberts rode this wave of ‘credibility’ and began fluffing up stories based on a foundation as solid as morning fog, and the media ate it up. Her actions clearly represent the rest of American media: any press is good press, which, if you’ve followed economic news lately, the press is notably guilty of overlooking most of the positive swings in the economy while emphasizing all the negative.

Then came the Manny Ramirez chapter in our 2009 Steroid Tabloid. He was caught taking his off-cycle product to help bring his hormone profile back into normal range. The MLB then threw the book at him for a 50-game suspension and having to “rehab” for a handful of games in the Dodgers’ minor league team. Now there is all this talk of his legacy and potential Hall of Fame inclusion being tarnished.

This brings me to my next point: the Hall of Fame voting system is crap.

There are no set standards for who gets in, or by what means. There is an expected emphasis on what was accomplished during each player’s career, but all the players who did very little in terms of stat accumulation that have made the Hall were put there based on things like character. Baseball purists say the Steroid Era has tarnished these careers and they shouldn’t be allowed in.

Let me make one thing clear: If the media hype and the average fan’s hunger for more home runs, story lines in the sport (like the Home Run Duel between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire), and just to see more exciting baseball (or any sport for that matter), the reason for taking the steroids disappears. But because in sport the main goal is entertainment, the clubs want players that produce. For the players it just becomes a matter of time. The longer it takes for them to reach a certain level in strength and proficiency, the less time they have in their career to make themselves matter.

So steroids are their answer. Major League Baseball and the individual clubs have long overlooked what they knew and kept quiet because it put money in their pocket. Sports teams function on a very basic principle: capitalism. And due to special favors in sports, teams can monopolize, which most other major corporations cannot.

It’s been known throughout history that athletes in Greece took things to enhance their performance. Not steroids in particular, but taking herbs that had stimulant properties was commonplace in historical text. Throughout the Cold War, the East German Bloc and the Soviet Union were big on steroids, making bigger, faster, stronger and much more aggressive athletes. Who’s to say that all of these Hall of Famers in sports throughout the ’60s and through ’90s weren’t taking any PEDs?

With that said, why now would we wish to penalize players who are doing, probably, what players before them had been doing? If steroids mean a player has compromised character, then why is Babe Ruth the most well-known baseball player to set foot on a field? He was a drunken adulterer.

I’d think according to society’s standards, that’s a bit worse than taking something to make you better at your job.