Waking up this morning, listening to Mike & Mike in the Morning on both ESPN and my radio alarm, there is one thing on everybody's mind in the world of sports; STEROIDS. With David Ortiz testing positive, claiming to have been "blindsided," and then being called out by Ravich because all of the players who tested positive were informed, then Manny saying he doesn't care, Ozzy Guillen going on a rant, Rafael Palmeiro clips being played, etc., etc., etc...only one thing came to my mind.
Who REALLY cares about steroids anymore?
What makes me sick is this: somewhere, there is a lawyer (maybe two), in absolutely no need of the extra money, who was paid top dollar to slowly leak all of these big names to the media from the failed test list. But, in reality, why does it matter?
At the time of these tests, there was no drug testing policy. Players assumed they were going to be anonymous, making all of these leaks completely and totally illegal. In my opinion, every media outlet that has repeated the names should be held accountable also. Whoever originally leaked the information will surely be found out eventually, and I hope that they are tried to the fullest extent of the law.
More importantly, you have to ask yourself a simple question; were steroids REALLY bad for baseball? Now, before you go getting upset and calling me crazy, hear me out. When this all really started, baseball was in bad shape. I'm talking about before the McGwire/Sosa home run chase, just after the strike, when nobody cared that the Yankees were winning everything. Baseball needed heroes, but instead all it had was the Braves choking every October and the Red Sox struggling to even compete. Even with Derek Jeter and Paul O'Neill bringing glory back to the pinstripes, nobody outside of New York really cared. When Arizona beat New York in the series, it was a good story, but nobody cared. Baseball needed a revival. Steroids were that revival.
If it hadn't been for steroids, records would never have been broken. You cannot tell me that McGwire or Sosa would have made runs at the home run mark if they hadn't been juicing. Sammy would have been criticized for striking out too much, and McGwire would've been long since retired with back issues. The same goes for Barry Bonds. While he was still one of the greatest players of all time, he would have never been sending all those balls into McCovey Cove and bringing a bit of excitement back to baseball in San Fransisco. Steroids made these three heroes, and it's best to just leave them alone. That's not to mention A-Rod, Palmeiro, Clemens...all these great stories that needed steroids for them to happen. And, above all else, the Boston Red Sox. Baseball NEEDS Boston to be competitive. Boston NEEDED to win one, finally. So what if they cheated? The Red Sox broke the curse. They put the pressure back on the Yankees, and we've watched the Bombers squirm ever sense. I don't care that steroids were involved, I'm just glad that it happened and we got the movie Fever Pitch out of the whole deal.
What can be lost in this is the unfair criticism given to certain players who haven't been tied in with steroids. The first name that comes to my mind is Ken Griffey, Jr. When all of this was beginning, Grif was the beginning and the end. He was the best player in baseball, better than Bonds, better than A-Rod, better than Manny. Griffey was the Yankee killer, the guy who would break all these records and bring baseball back to it's prominence. Then, all of a sudden, he goes to play in Ohio. He gets hurt. And then he gets hurt again. And again. And again. All this criticism mounts up on Junior because he can't keep himself healthy. Some people say bad luck, others start talking about him not taking care of himself.
My question is this: what if Ken Griffey, Jr. had taken steroids? What if he had taken HGH and had this magic healing power, more durability, and had actually been able to finish out his career? We wouldn't be looking at a shell of a man trying to play DH for a mediocre Seattle team, I'll tell you that much. Ken Griffey, Jr. on steroids would have gone on to be the greatest player in the history of the game. And I, for one, would not have cared on bit how many reports he popped up on. Griffey was good for the game. Having him in the lineup every day, setting records, would have been good for baseball. Can you imagine if Bonds would've had Griffey to chase the home run record with him? It would have been the ultimate heel (Bonds) against the ultimate super hero (Griffey). Good vs. Evil. The savior vs. the devil. Griffey would have prevailed in the final days, and all would have been right with the world. I probably would've never drank a beer, because Ken Griffey, Jr. would've been a perfect role model for my generation. But, instead, we didn't get that. And why? Because Ken Griffey, Jr. didn't take steroids.
Now I hope you realize that I say this with a very tongue in cheek attitude. I don't LIKE steroids; I don't think they are good for your body, for one, and I appreciate those athletes who have worked their butts off to get where they are. Still, I love baseball. In a time when my favorite pasttime was in danger of falling off, the game needed a little injection (pun intended). For the rest of the 100 names that tested positive in 2003, please keep them to yourself. It won't change my view of the game, of the players, or of the legacy they left.