The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
 
The Average Mulder
by Joe Mulder
Spring, When a Young Man's Fancy Turns to Thought of... Steroids

Baseball spring training is upon us, and once again the specter of steroids looms large over the opening of the season. Just like last year.

Why?

What's changed? Are the crazy numbers put up by sluggers like Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa and more tainted in March of 2005 than they were in March of 2004? Why are we still talking about this?

Well, one reason is that Bonds needs 52 home runs to tie -- and 53 to break -- Hank Aaron's all-time major league career home run record of 755. The likelihood of Bonds achieving the mark this season is somewhat low, as he's only hit over 50 home runs in a season once in his career (of course, that year -- 2001 -- he hit a record 73. So I don't think anyone's betting the farm against Barry getting it done this year).

Still, the milestone looms. And how do we feel about it? How did we feel in 1998 when McGwire and Sosa, two players whom almost everyone but the most loyal and most deluded consider to have been heavily juiced up, revived the game with their home run chase? We loved it then, of course, because we could talk ourselves into the idea that, sure, a guy in his 30s could add 25 pounds of muscle in a single offseason by working out super hard. McGwire copped to taking andro, and Sosa was probably doing some sort of supplements as well, but, hey, they sell that stuff at GNC, right? How bad could it be?

Now, though, that Jose Canseco's writing books, McGwire isn't saying anything and Ken Caminiti lies in the cold, cold ground, we're starting to take things seriously. And because human nature is such that we tend to care about issues insofar as they affect us (and I'm as guilty as anybody of this, by the way), the question we find ourselves asking is: hey, what about all the records that these guys are going to break? Huh? Those records are important to me, and I'll not see them tarnished!

The sad fact of the matter is that steroids, though illegal in the United States of America during the mid-90s and early-00s, were not against the rules of baseball during that time. In this fake sportswriter's humble opinion, baseball records only have value if we all agree that statistics accumulated during regulation Major League play by players who are judged -- at the time -- to be abiding by regulation Major League rules should count the same. We don't keep separate statistics for players who played before and after the racial integration of the big leagues, we don't keep separate statistics for players who played before and after the introduction of specialized relief pitching, nor should we keep separate statistics for players who played before and after the era of steroids.

This is not to say that we shouldn't remember who was juicing up; we should, and we should always bring it up when we talk about their accomplishments. But hot stove message boards, the outfield bleachers and lazy Saturday afternoon barbeques are the places such things should be noted and discussed; baseball-reference.com and the pages of the Baseball Encyclopedia are not.
Joe Mulder
Archives


  read this

Site design by onebee.com