Why Steroids Didn’t Save Baseball
Walker seemingly but unknowingly, argues his opposition’s case when he points out other reasons that the MLB has seen a fan base resurgence since the end of the strike shortened 1994 season. Unfortunately for him, he does too good of a job in pointing out that Cal Ripken’s ironman streak could account as a possible cause for the positively sloping popularity of baseball. He goes on to list, “a spate of cozy ballparks, spiced up with interleague play and the wild card” (Walker para. 23) as yet even more of a possible cause. Despite pointing this all out, he refuses to accept it as he continually subjects steroids as the ultimate reason for the resurgence. He did so, not taking into account that correlation does not mean causality which flattens his argument down thinner than the piece of paper it is printed on.
Casual reasoning plagues Walker’s thought that steroids caused the overall better play. Sure it can be asserted that for the select few of players who took performance enhancing drugs their level of play increased, but in reality the public only has factual evidence that a small percentage of players used them. Contrary to public opinion, the other accusations are all based on either circumstantial evidence or basic he said she said. Because only a couple of the players that he actually mentions in his article have been factually one-hundred percent found guilty of using, the other players he lists in his arguments are essentially only assumptions and hunches. An argument based on assumptions is no argument at all. Two big names he brings into the article are Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. He leads readers, uneducated on the topic, to believe the two aforementioned players have been found guilty of using when he injects, “The whole nation stayed up late to watch Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy race for Roger Maris’ record in 1998” (para. 12) insinuating both are tried and true users of human growth hormones. Contrary to Walker’s beliefs, in America, the accused remain innocent until proven guilty. Well Mr. Walker, by that definition, those two players run around the bases with the benefit of the doubt. In fact the only other players he cites that have been proven guilty, are Jose Conseco and Rafael Palmeiro. All others, including the 98 players in the Mitchell Report are only allegations. Now just to be fair and to give Ben Walker the benefit of the doubt for a minute, let us assume that all those hundred something players are in fact users. 100 players only make up roughly 13% of the MLB’s populace at any given time and many of those 100 names given have not played in years. 13% would not make the difference in boosting a leagues attendance.
With all the counter-arguments so far, even at this point I think it is appropriate to ascertain that the increased level of play cannot be strictly blamed on the use steroids by many players. But stop here, I will not, because there are other potholes to be uncovered. In this next case, as he has already before, Walker himself helps me make my argument against his own article. He does so by writing, “reasons for the extra offense: lively balls, smaller parks, expansion-ravaged pitching, body built players” (para. 24). Reasons for this quotation by Walker may include multiple personalities or perhaps even forgetfulness of what his argument is, but either way he is right. There can be several other arguments, besides steroids, that one can attribute to the increased offense in baseball. In addition to that, these changes, that Walker himself listed, are league wide. League wide meaning each and every batter that dug into the back of the batter’s box and every pitcher that toed the rubber was affected by the changes. This is a fundamental difference in Walker’s argument about steroids because the use of HGH and other performance enhancing drugs would only affect the singular users, where as shorter home run walls, better kept and better groomed baseballs, newer more affluent workout regimes and less top tiered pitching affected every single player. Just as in basketball where more players can dunk now then 30 years ago, more baseball players can crank one into the left field bleachers.
Throughout the article, in his overly sarcastic tone and highly emotional argument, certainly Ben Walker makes some good points in his article. But in a highly pot hole filled road you are bound to hit a flat patch every once in awhile. Building a lead zeppelin may have seemed like a good idea in spirit but the execution went down in flames, a parallel can be drawn here with this piece. Walker saw the ball out of the pitchers hand, belted it over everyone’s head, but just came short as the lazy can-o-corn fell into the centerfielders mitt before he even reached the warning track.