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Major League Baseball’s “Steroid Era”: Will the Hypocrisy Ever End?

More than likely, the recent mistrial in the Roger Clemens perjury trial won’t put in end to the steroid era. It definitely won’t stop congress from continuing their pursuit of Clemens either. The United States Government likes to go to great lengths to try and prove their point, no matter how much money it costs their citizens or how misguided their side of the story is.

The wasting of millions of dollars of taxpayer money does get me a little worked up. You get numb to it after a while though, since it happens in this country on a daily basis. What really gets me out of my chair and makes me pace around the room in complete frustration, is the hypocritical finger pointing of baseball fans.

Unless you truly lived under a rock, we all had a pretty good idea that 1998 and the chase of the single season home run record by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa had something “extra” to it. I’m not talking about the excitement. We dearly wanted it to be an over the counter muscle builder called Creatine. A lot of us kinda suspected it was something else. And it was. We assumed Mark McGwire had used PED’s (performance enhancing drugs) the moment he stumbled in front of Congress, refusing to “talk about the past”. Those assumptions were confirmed, when last year, McGwire admitted to steroid use. With Sammy Sosa, we all knew he was a user too, the moment he suddenly forgot he spoke English.

Then the dominoes started to fall as players names started to surface. Some by self admission. Most by being linked by “lists” or former trainers and of course, Jose Canseco. You don’t really need a lot of information to realize who probably used PED’s. Look at any baseball reference website and check out single season player statistics from 1996-2004. There are two easy factors to look at that might help you realize who may have used. The amount of games played comparable to past seasons and peaked offensive numbers for a period of 4-5 years, followed by plummeting statistics right around the time steroid testing in baseball was implemented.

Baseball fans were crushed, for some odd reason. As if they had been lied to. Cheated on. In complete bewilderment. A realization comparable, if you found out your spouse’s messed up hair and sweat stained clothes, was actually from a love affair with their boss, not from the fact that they had “jogged” all the way home from work, night after night. I hope that didn’t actually happen to you, it’s just a comparison. Fan’s lives were in the gutter and it’s all because Mark and Sammy did steroids! I know fans have every right to be disappointed. I get that. Baseball fan’s are passionate. Extremely nostalgic. They just tend to be hypocritical when they compare now to yesteryear. Extremely so when talking about steroids in baseball.

“Older players never did steroids!” Okay, you are completely right. Because there weren’t any steroids back then. This statement from fan’s is like saying “Billy the Kid would have never driven a car”. The gunslinger rode a horse, older players used amphetamine’s. They utilized the means available to them in their time period. Many of the older players have either admitted to or have been linked to amphetamine use. Much like today’s steroid era. “Amphetamines didn’t help them hit homerun’s”. Really?

You see, there was this affliction that ravaged baseball players in the old days. It was called hangovers. A condition that resulted from consuming a lot of beer and staying out until the early morning hours. In some cases, involving a woman, that was or was not the players wife. This hangover would last up until the player got to the ball park and without the constant use of amphetamines, the player would have to play the game with dizziness, nausea and pounding headaches.

I know I’m making light of the fact, but let’s be honest. Mickey Mantle was probably the most famous player linked to amphetamine use. No one talks about it. As if Mantle would have hit his 536 home runs while being completely hung over every game. Whether it was because of a grueling season or simply because they drank too much, older players also used drugs and yes, ones that enhanced their performance. For some reason, drugs that don’t build muscle tissue are disregarded as PED’s. That’s simply wrong. And before you say that players still wouldn’t have done steroids if available, Bob Gibson said he would have. I have a hunch that if someone of Gibson’s self discipline and pride, admitted he would have tried them, you can bet others would have followed suit.

Baseball started testing for steroids in 2002. They were anonymous survey tests however and did not include real punishment or acknowledgment. It wasn’t until 2004, that the steroid testing policy changed, publicly announcing players that tested positive and forcing treatment. Suspensions from positive testing didn’t take affect until a year later in 2005. Yes, steroids were illegal in this country but it just so happened, they were not illegal according to baseball law. Refer all you want to, then baseball commissioner Fay Vincent’s 1991 memo, in which he asked teams to take a “firm stance” if they suspect steroid use among their players. Try and tell me that the memo was some sort of proof that a policy existed. You would be wrong. The memo was a way for Vincent to cover his butt, in case steroids became a major issue down the road. He knew they existed in his game. Vincent well understood that prime players were using them. The league did nothing.

I’m not here to try and tell you whether a steroid policy should have been in place or not. But how can you enforce something now, that happened prior, in this case disallowing steroid users before 2004, their statistics in the record books? Does that mean every fan who drove 40 in a 40mph zone last year, should now get ticketed since that same zone has changed to 35mph? Yes, home runs and speeding are two entirely different things, but the foundation of the argument is exactly the same. If the rule of “gambling” in baseball wasn’t implemented until this year, wouldn’t Pete Rose be in the Hall of Fame? You bet he would and his plaque would be shining in Cooperstown, right next to all the amphetamine users, drunks and adulterers. Even though Rose would have illegally gambled in the eyes of our nations law, he would not have been wrong under baseball law. Any statistic linked to steroids that occurred before 2004 should stand and any player linked to steroids should be judged on his career statistics up 2004. Last time I looked, the Hall of Fame voting is not done by the Government or the Supreme Court, based upon their laws. Whether immoral, right or wrong, you cannot break a law that isn’t a law.

I just wish fan’s would admit the real reason for their disdain towards players from the steroid era. It isn’t from current players using PED’s because they have been used throughout the history of baseball and the existence of drugs. If that’s your reason, I’m sorry, you are being blindly hypocritical. It surely can’t be that steroid users have altered record books or would possibly taint the Hall of Fame. Remember? No real rule or ruled testing prior to 2004. No way could it be based on the fact that older players wouldn’t have done them. If so, I once again example Mickey Mantle and how his pants would have been around his ankles before his trainer got finished telling him how the contents of this syringe will make your knee pain disappear in a week. And because Mr. Gibson said, he too would have done them.

Just stop with all the hypocrisy, as if you wouldn’t have done them too for millions. As if you don’t do certain things at your job to stand pat or get ahead. To provide for your family. Things that might not be against company rules but looked down upon by society. If you don’t or wouldn’t have, you are in the minority. Your hate is about the money. It’s the fact that Alex Rodriguez makes more in a week, than most of us make in ten years. The fact that these players will never want for anything monetarily the rest of their lives, while we struggle to make ends meet, is what fuels the steroid era anger. Tell me you hate steroid users in baseball simply because they are rich and I will tell you, you are a jealous person. But not a hypocrite. And before you chime in about yesteryear again and how they played for the love of the game…realize that they all would have held out for fat contracts if the money then, was like the money now.

You can have Clemens though. String him up and throw every hypocritical reason you want at this guy and keep him from everything I think he fairly deserves as far as baseball history. This steroid user is different than the rest. Clemens is the poster child for hypocrisy and he just won’t stop. Maybe he should have just been a career baseball fan, instead of a 354 game winner. Just leave the others alone. They just lied or kept silent. One of them forgetting an entire language. No different than any other era.