The Mitchell Report documents the epidemic of steroid use in Major League Baseball, naming players at all levels, for all 30 American and National League clubs as probable steroid users. Despite the heavily publicized steroid problem these past several years, ticket sales for Major League games have continued to climb, and many fans seem entirely indifferent to the issue. Is steroid abuse in Major League Baseball really so serious a problem?
How times have changed. In the 1980s, George Brett stirred up a hornet’s nest when he hit a home run with an inch too much pine tar on his bat. This past summer, Barry Bonds broke the most hallowed record in American sports, and baseball fans — all of whom knew full well that Bonds’s sudden surge toward 755 was suspicious at best — barely said “boo” about it. Hank Aaron was deposed as home run king and replaced by a guy who got at least a few of his homers out of a syringe, and nobody seemed to care.
Well, I care. I care whether or not the guy with the most home runs is a cheat. I care whether or not Roger Clemens had illegal chemical assistance winning a few of those Cy Young Awards. I care when I find out that one of my favorite players has been shooting up with Stanozolol or popping HGH supplements like G. Gordon Liddy before a wet t-shirt contest. I care about whether or not my sports are on the level.
I know a lot of the guys named in the Mitchell Report claim extenuating circumstances, that they were injured and just used steroids once or twice to help them get back on the field, or that they were just blindly taking supplements that their trainers gave them. If we’re treating Andy Pettite or Miguel Tejada unfairly, then apologies will be in order somewhere down the line. But when the reputation of the sport is being damaged on a daily basis by accusations and suspicions of doping, is it really too much to ask of baseball players, injured or not, that they have some basic knowledge of what they are putting into their own bodies, and to make sure that none of it is an illegal performance enhancing substance that could destroy their career and the integrity of the game they play?
I’m an old fashioned dog. I admit that. My eyes are plastic and stationary. I’m not poseable, I don’t light-up, if you push my paw I don’t say one of three pre-recorded phrases. I’m from a simpler time, when baseball was simpler. I know there’s probably never been a time when more ballplayers were like Christy Mathewson than Ty Cobb. I don’t expect them to treat their fans like gold, or spend their vast fortunes on things nobler than booze and hookers, or even exhibit the slightest bit of loyalty to their teams or their fellow players. I don’t expect them to be honest or upstanding in any area of their extraordinarily privileged lives, except one: the game they are paid millions of dollars annually to play. That’s not asking for too much. That’s asking for bare minimum.
Are steroids that big of a problem in baseball? I don’t know, ask A-Rod. See if he’s taken any hits to the wallet because of this scandal. Hell, for that matter, ask Barry Bonds. Everyone knows the guy was eating Winstrol for breakfast when he broke the single-season home run record, but did anyone care when those balls started sailing over the fences? What about when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa were chasing 62 in 1998? Everyone acted so shocked and appalled when it turned out Big Mac was using androstenedione to add a little pop to his workouts. Come on. The last baseball player who looked that much like a football player was Bo Jackson — who had the excellent excuse of actually being a football player.
Hitters take steroids for one simple reason: home runs put asses in the seats. Pitchers take them because being strong as a fucking ox can’t hurt them either — who’d you rather have in your starting rotation, the guy who relies on his changeup or the guy who smokes that motherfucker in there at 97 MPH? Exactly.
The only ones that have a problem with steroids in sports are the pansy-ass purists who think athletes should be held to some high, heroic standard. As if Marion Jones whipping ass at the 2000 Olympics is now less exciting since she’s admitted to being a doper. As if McGwire hitting number 70 has retroactively become a dark day in the history of the game since he tried to wriggle and squirm out of admitting to Congress that he was a juicer.
I know, Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron never used the stuff. They hit their home runs naturally. Well cheers to those fucking studs, I guess. Must just be a coincidence that Babe Ruth hit all 714 of his dingers before anybody knew anabolic steroids even existed.
We’re all adults here (except for me; I am a stuffed dog). I think we’re big enough to handle a few facts. Babe Ruth corked his bat. And if someone handed Babe Ruth some pills or a needle and told him that it would amplify his strength and shorten his healing time after an injury, he would have been all over that shit. Those pills would be down his fat gullet so fast, you’d have thought they were fucking Vienna sausages.
Fuck, just get over yourselves. “Oh, they broke the rules, they cheated” — wah, wah, wah. I must have missed the big worldwide meeting where we all decided that sports were actually important and not just something to watch on weekends when nothing else is on TV. These guys only get to make a living playing baseball in the first place because we all think it’s so much fun to watch. If shooting their ass full of androgenic hormones makes their ballplaying more fun to watch, let ‘em stick needles in their asses until they can’t sit down. Let ‘em break records all they want. When they retire, vote their pockmarked asses into Cooperstown. Why the fuck not? I don’t see what’s so unfair about it.
I’ll tell you what’s unfair — not letting “Shoeless” Joe Jackson into the Hall of Fame. Who ever heard of banning a guy just because he didn’t like wearing shoes? Fucking fascists.