In this column, MLB contributor yankeeslifer discusses "the sinking ship of baseball." Check it out:
Baseball is in trouble. Yes, in trouble, a lot of it. The problem is, though, that the trouble is beneath the surface.
Who remembers back in 1998? Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, the two home run pioneers, ripping and clawing their way to the top of the charts. Mark McGwire rose higher, but that really didn't take away from anything. They were on top of the world, the heroes of millions, the face of baseball.
Fast forward a few years. Barry Bonds blasts past the McGwire record, and reaches new heights, 73 HR in a single season. Bonds wasn't exactly fan-friendly, but he was still an ambassador of baseball, and he reperesented an American hero.
So many other players making a name for themselves....Rafael Palmiero, Jason Giambi, Jose Canseco, Ken Caminiti....
Sixty-four thousand dollar question: What do all of these players have in common?
Do they all relate to steroids? Yes.
Did they save baseball? Yes.
Will they eventually destroy baseball? Unfortunately, a good chance of yes.
After the baseball strike, interest was waning. People were losing interest. Then, McGwire and Sosa started their little competition that soon saved baseball from it's swan song. Interest was coming back, to watch the only thing that could bring it back: Home Runs. And lots of them. We were enraptured. We couldn't help but watch. Baseball was coming back strong.
As if to make sure our interest didn't wane, Barry Bonds took on McGwire's short-standing record only a few years record and eclipsed it. Nothing could stop our interest, these men were gifted!
Gifted by what? Steroids, of course. Baseball has become a mockery, and quite frankly, I can't stand it. Every time I hear Balco, HGH, Conte, Anderson, Mitchell investigation, I change the channel or read the next page. Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Giambi...all of these players are killing the sport they treasure, love, and live for. The saddest, and most disgusting part is, they don't even seem to realize it. McGwire cries at the Senate hearings; Sammy no habla ingles, and proceeds to cork his bat, do we trust him?; Bonds lashes at the media, claims this is because he's black, when in fact it is partly from evidence, and partly from his rude and dispassionate handling of the media; Canseco gets Juiced; Giambi admits to steroids, and then seemingly wants pity; Ken Caminiti admits to juicing the year he won the NL MVP; Palmiero quickly blames teammates like Tejada for helping him inject himself with 'roids.
Unless something is done, and done soon, baseball will implode. Think back to Williams, Maris, Mantle, Ruth, Aaron. Would they have ever done anything like this, with the opportunity? We will never know, but I'll tell you this: none of them will ever have an asterisk next to their name, none of them will ever be questioned as to the legibility of their records and achievements. If our current players ever admit to juicing, records will be erased and fans will be justly angry, lose interest. If no one admits, then the records will stand, most likely without any asterisks, and fans will become angry, give oaths to never watch the sport again, with reason. Baseball is sinking, but the fans won't be going down with the ship.