Steroids Scandal Shows Major League Disconnect

I really care about baseball’s steroid issue. I’ve found, however, that I am among the minority and that disturbs me.

Many passionate fans care about the steroid issue because it affects the integrity of the game, and it sullies the reputations of players who have been idolized by their fans. For me, the issue comes down to something as basic as cheating. Using illegal performance-enhancing drugs to one-up your competition is cheating. Just like corking your bat is cheating. Just like throwing a game is cheating. The fact that Major League Baseball had not explicitly outlawed steroid use before the 2002 Collective Bargaining Agreement does not validate any steroid use before 2002. It’s all cheating.

To understand this steroid phenomenon, it’s necessary to explore just how baseball, its fans and the media have built up a system where drug use is acceptable and encouraged. The deepest root of this evil – like many – is the promise of more money, more home runs, more fans. Would a steroid-less Giambi have received a $120 million contract offer? Would Jose Canseco have received his own overvalued $25 million contract back in the late 1980s without his steroid-fueled MVP campaign? Of course not. The drive for greed has led many players to drugs that will mess them up later in life.

But it’s not just the players who are to blame. The owners, managers and general managers can’t walk away scot-free. Tony La Russa says he knew that Jose Canseco was juicing up. The Yankees supposedly removed the word steroid from Jason Giambi’s contract. This is nothing new. In 1976, according to Wednesday’s New York Times, then-Twins executive Clark Griffith wanted a mandatory drug testing program and mandatory treatment for players abusing drugs and alcohol. The general managers voted it down, and as they told Griffith, they wouldn’t report a player without first checking out his stats.

Can this really come as a surprise to anyone? Of course not. Baseball managers and general managers are not oblivious to what goes on in the clubhouse, and they’re not blind either. When a player looks different physically and hits the ball with a little more pop in his bat without hitting the gym, something isn’t natural. But the game is about winning. Why would you rat out your best players?

Then, there is the media, possibly the guiltiest party in the entire scandal. The media is having a field day with the steroid scandal. CBS garnered high ratings from the Canseco interview; the story is splashed across tabloids across the country; and columnists on the web are audaciously suggesting that Barry Bonds retire before he further sullies some of baseball’s exalted records. Self-righteousness reigns supreme in the press.

But something’s not right because these are same sports commentators who lapped up the McGwire-Sosa 1998 home run race. These are the same sports commentators who were enthralled by Bonds’ 2001 pursuit of the home run record and are eagerly counting down the at-bats until he reaches 715, 756, and beyond. The media once trumpeted the offensive age of baseball as they applauded the game for drawing in fans to fill the seats after the strike of 1994-1995 saw a decline in baseball popularity.

If more home runs means more coverage and more coverage means more revenue, then the press – the Fourth Estate of American life – is just as guilty for encouraging steroid use as managers are for ignoring a drug problem in baseball’s clubhouses.

Furthermore, the media loves everything that sells. They love home runs; they love steroids. It’s the great hypocrisy of the press. One season, they’ll tout the great offensive explosions; the next winter, Murray Chass will wax poetic about the pressures of the new drug policy. And that’s where the fans come into play.

This is the trickiest piece of the puzzle. Are the fans to blame? Yes, but not for the obvious reasons. The fans are to blame because they don’t care enough about the steroid scandal and how it affects the integrity of the game. In a recent unscientific SportsNation poll on ESPN, more fans by a 51-49 margin, said that competitive balance was the biggest problem facing the game, not steroids. And this comes after a five-year stretch in which five different teams won the World Series. Drug use, folks, is now more acceptable than having five out of six divisions feature wide-open races this season. (Only the AL East will be a two-team dog fight.) If these SportsNation voters are only those interested enough to seek out the poll to vote, I can only imagine the apathy the rest of baseball’s more casual fans feel about steroids.

But the fans do care about the publicity. Canseco’s book was the number three seller on Amazon the day it was released. Millions of people eat up steroid news everyday. These fans, however, only seem to want more names and more details. They want gossip and innuendo. They want to know who has done what and how.

All of this stems from one overarching belief that many fans share: As long as their team’s players produce on the field, it doesn’t matter what happens off the field. This isn’t to say that everyone feels this way; I know plenty of people who are highly disappointed that players would stoop to steroid use. But these sentiments can be found everywhere among baseball fans.

I, for one, do not approve. We baseball fans should care about what baseball players do in the locker room. We should care what players who are admired by young and old alike do with their bodies. We should care about the fact that cheating is becoming a socially acceptable phenomenon in the game called America’s Pastime. While many baseball fans want to leave the steroid issue behind and just focus on the games, it’s time for baseball fans to demand accountability and integrity from the greatest game on Earth.

2 Responses to “Steroids Scandal Shows Major League Disconnect”


  1. 1 Steve January 31, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    My blog/site http://www.reinstatepeterose.com is a call to either reinstate rose or ban all players in the Mitchell Report.


  1. 1 River Ave. Blues » Subjecting baseball to an unfair double standard Trackback on January 16, 2008 at 1:41 am
Comments are currently closed.



RSS River Ave. Blues

  • Offense breaks out for three runs, Yankees salvage series with 3-1 win over Angels July 2, 2015
    Source: FanGraphs The Yankees matched their run total from the previous three games combined on Wednesday night, and while that usually means a big game, this time it meant only three runs. Those three runs were enough for a 3-1 win over the Angels, salvaging the series finale for New York and halting their three-game [...] Offense breaks out for three runs, […]
    Mike Axisa
  • DotF: Ellsbury plays six innings in center in second rehab game; Palma almost completes outfield assist cycle July 2, 2015
    OF Jake Cave, 3B Eric Jagielo, C Gary Sanchez, RHP Eric Ruth, and RHP Nick Goody have all been selected for the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game, so congrats to them. Jagielo is hurt and won’t play in the game. Sanchez won’t play because he’ll be in Cincinnati for the Futures Game. RHP Brady Lail [...] DotF: Ellsbury plays six innings in center in secon […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Game 80: Runs, Plural July 1, 2015
    The Yankees have scored one run in each of their last three games. It’s the first time they’ve scored one run or fewer in three straight games since 2013 and only the third time they’ve done it this century. The last time they scored one run or fewer in four straight games? You have to [...] Game 80: Runs, Plural is a post from: River Avenue Blues The post G […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yanks call up Taylor Dugas, outright Esmil Rogers; Carlos Beltran day-to-day for time being July 1, 2015
    The Yankees have called up outfielder Taylor Dugas from Double-A Trenton, the team announced. Esmil Rogers has been outrighted back to Triple-A Scranton, which clears both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Dugas. The Yankees are back to a normal seven-man bullpen and a four-man bench. Dugas was called up simply because the Yankees [...] Yanks call up Taylo […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Angels’ front office dysfunction and possible implications for the Yankees July 1, 2015
    The Angels have won four straight games, including the last two against the Yankees, yet the team is mired in dysfunction at the moment. According to multiple reports, GM Jerry Dipoto either resigned or was fired yesterday following an ongoing power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. Ken Rosenthal detailed their problems earlier this week. It’s [...] Angel […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Jagielo’s injury comes at a really bad time for the Yankees July 1, 2015
    Two weeks and one day ago, third base prospect Eric Jagielo slid into home plate and jammed his knee, forcing him to miss a few days. A few days turned into a DL stint, and, as we learned yesterday, Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee, which may require surgery. He’ll undergo more tests before [...] Jagielo’s injury comes at a really bad time for the Yank […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Devil’s Advocate: The benefits of moving Adam Warren to the bullpen July 1, 2015
    The Yankees made it official prior to last night’s game, announcing Adam Warren has moved back into a bullpen role after the team used a six-man rotation for a week or so following Ivan Nova‘s return. “It’s a tough decision because he’s pitched so well but it’s what we need to do,” said Joe Girardi [...] Devil’s Advocate: The benefits of moving Adam Warren t […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Yankees drop third straight, offense no-shows in 2-1 loss to Angels July 1, 2015
    Source: FanGraphs The scoring struggles continue. The Yankees lost Tuesday night’s game to Angels 2-1 and they’ve now scored 15 runs in six games on the road trip. Nine of those runs came on Saturday. Close losses stink. Failing the capitalize on the Orioles, Blue Jays, and Rays going a combined 0-7 the last three [...] Yankees drop third straight, offense n […]
    Mike Axisa
  • Update: Carlos Beltran exits game with ribcage injury July 1, 2015
    12:52am: Beltran left the game with a ribcage injury, Joe Girardi told reporters after the game. He’ll be re-evaluated tomorrow and there’s a chance he’ll have to be placed on the DL. 11:35pm: Carlos Beltran exited tonight’s game with some kind of injury. He hurt himself during an at-bat in the fifth inning — Joe [...] Update: Carlos Beltran exits game with […]
    Mike Axisa
  • DotF: Aaron Judge and Austin Aune have huge games July 1, 2015
    Bad news: Matt Kardos says 3B Eric Jagielo has “loose bodies” in his knee. He hurt himself sliding into home plate a week or two ago. Jagielo will undergo more tests before deciding whether to have surgery or go the rehab route. Either way, it’s safe to assume he’ll be out for a while. Sucks. [...] DotF: Aaron Judge and Austin Aune have huge games is a post […]
    Mike Axisa

Blog Stats

  • 60,924 hits

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: