Steroids have been a part of the game of baseball longer than most would like to think. But, have steroids actually made the game better?
Just think about it. How much fun was it watching Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire hit all those home runs? What about Alex Rodriguez‘s chase for home run No. 600? We all enjoyed watching Sammy Sosa and Jose Canseco hit baseballs as hard as they could. What about Roger Clemens? He provided some of the best pitching gems of all time.
What do all those guys have in common? They all have either admitted to using steroids or have been accused of using steroids. But while they were doing something illegal, they were also doing baseball a favor. It’s all in the name: performance enhancing drugs. The substances helped improve their play, which, whether you like it or not, made the game of baseball better.
Those players made baseball exciting and fun. Even though they were using “banned substances,” they certainly entertained millions of fans and even created new ones. Chances are they weren’t the only ones using steroids during their respective time periods either. The only reason we know about them is because of the huge numbers that they put up, which peaked investigators’ interests.
If it weren’t for the steroids, we likely never would have seen the 70-plus home run years of Bonds and McGwire. What about the guys who followed that kept the tradition alive? Names like Manny Ramirez, Melky Cabrera and now Ryan Braun have all provided excitement for baseball fans everywhere while also being linked to, and suspended for, steroid use. They are only adding to the legacy of baseball, one that is now tarnished with steroids.
Without steroids, the players named above would likely never have been as big, both in their celebrity status and size, without the use of PED’s. Curt Schilling put it best on ESPN when he said, “Steroids make good players great and great players Hall of Famers.”
It doesn’t matter if they’re illegal or not, the only ones who steroids have proven troublesome for is the league’s front office and for those who take them because they get into trouble. Sure, it has made people lose respect for the game, but it certainly kept and created more fans and sold more tickets than any promotion that baseball has ever done.
If MLB wants steroids eliminated from baseball, they’re faced with no middle ground. There should be no suspensions from this point forward. If a player is found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs, they should receive a lifetime ban and have their names wiped from the record books with no possible chance of getting to Cooperstown.
It’s a product of the time, the numbers and, as hard as this may be to say, the fans. While they’re not personally injecting players or saying that steroids are good for the game or should be taken, they all show up hoping to see that next big superstar. Each and every baseball player that they show up to see are trying to become that next big superstar. Some are willing to go to any lengths to accomplish that.
The pressure that athletes are put under to perform is immense, and it comes from all angles. They need to provide for their families, keep their jobs and keep the fans happy and excited. Sometimes players are willing to think outside the box to make sure that they have taken care of the people they care about.
While steroids may leave a sour taste when spoken by long-time, deeply rooted baseball fans, you have to admit that they have been good for the sport and have made it popular and more exciting. Baseball has a more complex decision than most people may realize, and I will pose the same question to you.
Do they ban something that has been, in reality, good for the sport?