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Good morning, boys and girls — it’s a wonderful Saturday morning. The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and the Phillies are on a roll. It’s going to be a wonderful day. Why, the only thing that would ruin it would be a self-righteous writer writing the one millionth anti-steroid, pro-HoF-banning article. Luckily, the writers have taken the hint from their readership and have given up the crusade against performance-enhancing drugs.
Maybe not. Thanks for ruining a perfectly good Saturday, John Kunich.
All right, let’s FJM it.
It’s time for the death penalty for baseball’s steroid users. Not literally, but the baseball equivalent—a lifetime ban and permanent ineligibility for the Hall of Fame. The death penalty is for murder, and cheaters are murdering the sport that makes them rich.
Excellent writing tip #1: To make it seem like an issue is super important, compare it to something extreme, like death. Then take it back, but not really, but kind of.
Rhetorical questioning: How, pray tell, did Mike Morse and Alex Sanchez “murder the sport that makes them rich”? Was it the three home runs Morse has hit in his 337 career plate appearances? Sanchez’s 6 long balls in 1,651 career PA?
This crime wave’s raged for years as steroid abusers ravaged baseball’s fundamental integrity.
Writers always presume baseball has ever had integrity. It has never, ever had integrity. Ever. The Black Sox, Gaylord Perry, Mike Schmidt using ampetamines, etc. Bending and outright breaking the rules has been a part of baseball for as long as the sport has involved hitting a ball with a bat and running around a diamond.
Aging, injured pitchers found miracle cures.
Like surgery and Cortisone shots, right? Oh, steroids — the arbitrarily-outlawed substance.
Good hitters, even late in their careers, artificially reinvented themselves into Babe Ruths.
Name one. Name one player that “reinvented” himself and put up Ruthian numbers that has been proven to have taken steroids. Bonds never “reinvented” himself, by the way.
During all the seasons before 1995, players hit 50 or more homers only 18 times, but from 1995 on, it’s happened 23 more—a tsunami of inflated slugging!
Can we prove that’s directly related to steroid use? It couldn’t be due to expansion, better scouting (thanks to technology), better healthcare (thanks to technology), smaller ballparks, an allegedly-juiced baseball?
It’s amazing that so many writers create this false dichotomy where it’s either due to steroid use or it’s not. There are a lot more factors that go into hitting a home run than just brute strength. Steroids do very little in the way of helping you mechanically, or making you more intelligent, or recognizing pitch types and speeds.
Baseball’s most treasured hitting records have fallen, and fallen under a cloud of suspicion.
I wonder what these guys are going to write about in 15 years when Albert Pujols hits his 764th career home run.
As long-established standards for single-season and career homers dissolved in a flood of juice, the entire sport has broken loose from its historical moorings. Baseball has been corrupted by rampant violation of both the criminal law and its internal rules.
I wonder if John actually perceives steroid users to be criminals on the same level as athletes like Michael Vick (dogfighting), Brett Myers (domestic abuse), and Rae Carruth (murder).
As for “historical moorings”, let me reiterate: baseball has never had integrity. Here are some links for both readers of this blog and, hopefully, Kunich:
- 1920 Black Sox scandal
- Pete Rose gambling scandal
- Dock Ellis no-hitter on LSD in 1970
- Philadelphia Phillies’ treatment of Jackie Robinson (third paragraph)
You get the point.
Why do successful standouts, even superstars, become sellouts that cheat to gain added advantage? Call it pride, vanity, or greed, it all spells selfishness. Seductive me-centered impulses tempt people to trample rules and violate the law. Competition is vicious, and some sink to crime for an edge.
That using steroids is a crime really bothers me. It insinuates that it is on the same level as other more vicious offenses such as those listed above (dogfighting, domestic abuse, murder, etc.). A steroid user harms no one but himself. That he breaks the rules certainly is wrong in that breaking the rules is wrong (not that taking steroids is inherently and morally wrong). Stop putting docile drug users in the same boat as violent criminals — it’s extremely disingenuous.
Games are won that should have been lost, homers are hit that should have been fly outs, and records shattered that should have endured.
You can say this about just about anything. Had Barry Bonds not had his body armor, he never would have been able to attack outside pitches like he did. Had Rickey Henderson not had top-of-the-line cleats (which Lou Brock never had), he never would have stolen so many bases.
Playing Monday morning quarterback can be fun and empowering, I’m sure, but it’s actually quite a grueling process if you’re going to do it fairly and accurately.
Ruined health and early death are the terrible price many abusers—and their imitators, including kids, pay for these “easy” pickings, alongside their honor.
WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?! OH GOD, PLEASE — THE CHILDREN!
Oh, they have parents or legal guardians? Ah, yeah, that’s right.
Baseball needs the strongest possible medicine to eradicate this plague.
Eliminate this “plague”, in comes another. The media will be there to cook up more controversy to sell more newspapers and magazines, drum up viewer- and listenership ratings, and to rack up hits on websites. It’s a neverending process.
The media, truthfully, does not want the performance-enhancing drug issue to end because it would mean there would be a grace period between controversies where they have nothing to act self-righteous about. The media needs the PED issue like the Bush administration needed conflict in the Middle East.
So far, nothing has halted the relentless spread of steroid-fueled travesties.
- 2005: 12
- 2006: 3
- 2007: 7
- 2008: 0
- 2009: 4
But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good talking point.
It’s proved ineffective to levy fines against corrupt multimillionaire players.
What happened to Rafael Palmeiro when he was caught? Barry Bonds? Their careers were shut down, just about on the spot.
Based on the numbers above, MLB’s tougher drug policies have worked to prevent players from using steroids, but apparently that isn’t good enough for Mr. Kunich here.
Suspensions that vanish within weeks haven’t deterred cheaters from resorting to career-making, legend-manufacturing, record-blasting enhancers.
Yes they have, actually. See above figures.
The cancer remains, and grows, because our half-hearted attempts to remove it were only cosmetic surgery. We’ve ignored the malignancy and had liposuction.
Comparing steroid use in baseball… to cancer. I realize it’s a euphemism, but if you have to use this much hyperbole to make an issue seem so much more important than it really is… where are you, really?
The All-Star Game is supposed to feature great players with sound character, but in today’s steroid-infested swamp everyone is presumed guilty.
When a paid member of the mainstream media says this: That’s totally cool. (I realize that Kunich did not get paid for this article, but he is peddling a book about the Cubs.)
With monitoring and enforcement so lax
Yeah, lax. That’s the word. There have only been two Congressional hearings, the extremely public roastings of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, and year-round drug testing. I wonder if Kunich would sign up for that type of anti-drug surveillance at his place of employment. I think not.
Is an amazing power display the result of talent and hard work alone, or a freak-show juiced by lawless abuse?
Kunich, who I presume has only heard of steroids as a result of Major League Baseball, does not understand what goes in to making steroid use create the desired results. Steroid users actually have to work harder. I’ve said this a million times and I’ll say it again: steroids are not like Popeye’s spinach; you cannot use it and sit on the couch and expect to turn into Arnold the next day.
Secondly, the success achieved by those who do use steroids succeed not only due to steroids but also due to the aforementioned “talent and hard work.” For example, I have little to no baseball talent. When I go to the batting cages, I hit a bunch of weak dribblers or I make no contact at all. If I were to start using anabolic steroids the 100% correct way under the care of a professional, I would not stop hitting weak dribblers and swinging and missing because I have very little talent.
Honest superstars are under the same suspicion as long, ever-growing lists of known cheaters.
I hate to harp on this, but this is exactly what Jerod Morris said in his article about Raul Ibanez. I just hate double standards.
Without decisive change, fans will soon stop caring, and ballparks will be filled only with ghosts, until baseball becomes a ghost itself.
Which is why MLB has been setting attendance records year after year, and the very slight decline in attendance this year can be blamed on the economy. Right? Right, John? Say it with me: wrong. Wrong.
We’ve been here before. In 1920, as the Black Sox scandal erupted, baseball’s greatest showcase—the World Series—was badly tainted.
Oh, he does know that there have been previous scandals. So what about that integrity?
Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis saw the magnitude of the threat and resolutely wiped it out. In the process, he wiped out the careers and Hall of Fame chances of famous favorites such as Shoeless Joe Jackson, Buck Weaver and Eddie Cicotte—but he saved baseball.
There’s a difference between intentionally throwing a game — which 100% absolutely has an effect on the outcomes of games — and using a substance that may or may not help you hit a fly ball 10 feet further or recover one day faster from an injury. It’s like saying, “This group of highly-organized federal bank thieves was sentenced to life in prison” and asking that the same punishment be levied to a high school kid who shoplifted a bag of Skittles.
Some may be unjustly punished, or punished disproportionate to their crime.
This is outright ignorance. Think Kunich would repeat this statement after he’s sentenced to 15 years in jail for forgetting to carry the one on his tax return? 10 years of probation for forgetting to pay a parking ticket?
But nothing else has worked.
Actually, what has been done by Selig has worked just fine for curbing the so-called PED issue.
An automatic lifetime ban and Hall of Fame ineligibility for steroid use, established to the commissioner’s satisfaction, will detoxify and rehabilitate baseball.
No it won’t. Essentially, all the bannings are worth is image points to the public. It won’t change anything.
And if you’re going to ban steroid users, then you have to ban users of amphetamines (Mike Schmidt and Mike Cameron, for example), Gaylord Perry (vaseline ball), all the bat-corkers and ball-scuffers, and on down the line. What you’re going to be left with is a very dull, uninteresting Hall of Fame.
Kind of like the way it is now. But I digress.