Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Time for Major League Baseball to move past "Steroid Era"
Any time Major League Baseball is mentioned, there seems to be a sub-conversation about the so-called steroid era.
On Wednesday, the Hall of Fame announced it's three newest members, Greg Maddux, his teammate Tom Glavine and slugger Frank Thomas. None of the three were controversial picks. The numbers that they possessed left them as easy decisions for induction.
With that in mind, the story turned quickly from who got in and what they had accomplished, to the familiar, if not tired story, of who didn't get voted for and why.
The narrative since Sports Illustrated's Rick Reilly broke the news that many of baseball's beloved heroes were using the juice simply won't go away. When a player hits a large number of home runs, the questions swirl about drug use. When a pitcher strikes out more batters than normal, the performance enhancing drug talk starts. When an older player starts breaking down and doesn't put up the numbers everyone is used to, the numbers from his early days start to get questioned.
It is impossible for steroids not to be part of the baseball conversation.
With baseball actively testing players since 2003, over a decade, isn't it time to move on? Maybe the real question should be, isn't it time for the media to move on?
The story about steroids in baseball won't go away, not because so many big names continue to get caught, but because self-serving sports writers who are too lazy to find another story continue to bring it up. Instead of digging for something more interesting to discuss, they continue to go back to the well that, frankly, has been dry for several years.
However, the more the media talks about it, the more it remains a story.
When baseball writers make bold statements about turning in blank hall of fame ballots, as five voters did in 2013, and others only vote for players who they believe were steroid-free, they miss the point. They miss the point that the story in baseball isn't about the guys who write about baseball, but rather, the guys who play baseball.
The problem is, the writer's have taken it upon themselves to be the judge, jury and executioner for every player whose name shows up on the ballot. Instead of letting the evidence, or lack-there-of speak for itself, these self-serving writers have decided that they somehow know who was indeed doing steroids and who wasn't.
Some won't go as far as to say that they know, so instead, they make the even more ridiculous decision of not voting for anyone who played in the so-called steroid era, even though that era doesn't really have any true dates. This theory is perhaps the most ridiculous because it ignores the fact that many of these potential hall-of-famers were putting up these numbers against guys who were cheating, even though they themselves weren't.
At some point, these writers need to accept what the "steroid-era" was and judge the players based on the time in which they played. If 90 percent of the players were using, as some have suggested, then didn't that essentially level the playing field? If 90 percent were using, why should the 10 percent who did it the right way be punished because their careers came at the wrong time?
Of course, it is far too easy to throw all of the writers into the same boat. The reality is, most of the voters are casting their vote the right way. They are doing their homework and they take their responsibility very seriously.
The problem is, the vocal minority of writers is turning their voting privilege into a total mockery. They have turned the voting from recognizing players who had incredible careers into a sideshow in which they can climb onto their soapboxes and gain recognition.
Most fans have moved past the steroid era. Unfortunately, many baseball writers continue to allow it to hold the game back.
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