Too often, we tend to view things outside the all important context of historical perspective. We forget why Richard Nixon ordered the break in of the Democratic Headquarters (he was a tortured man who believed everyone – especially the press – was out to get him. We also forget that J Edgar Hoover was wire tapping Martin Luther King during the same period. This is not to excuse what either man did – but it is to suggest that there is a “context” that must be recognized and explored when forming opinions about individuals and events.
In the same vein, remember that the emergence of steroids occurred immediately after the 1994 season strike. The strike hit baseball hard. There was no World Series that year. Fans turned away from the game. A few never came back.
Owners needed as George Steinbrenner liked to say “asses in the seats”. And what better way to do that than with a high dose of power and home run bombs every night. And let’s spread the power around the league too…….no sense having just one player smash 60 home runs……Let’s have three (Bonds, McGuire, and Sosa).
They knew. They not only knew and looked the other way………they also fattened their wallets…….big time.
The players were perplexed. In the same way that Nixon knew others were engaging in questionable tactics to gain an advantage……hey why not me too? The playing field needs to be leveled and if he’s taking steroids then I’d better do the same.
And so it goes……..as Buffalo Springfield suggested…..”Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong”.
But wait a minute. Baseball is a game more reliant on stats than any other sport. Even your average baseball fan knows “the numbers that matter”. And therein lies the rub…….what to do about all these records? It’s not the steroids that bother many fans…….it’s more about “keeping score”. How do you judge (for example) the accomplishments of a Barry Bonds when you cannot quantify the number of home runs he hit BECAUSE of steroids. It drives ’em nuts.
But I look at it differently. No one has ever proved or even suggested that steroids augment the level of hand to eye coordination required to make contact with a 97mph fast ball. So whether or not use of performance enhancing drugs causes a hit ball to travel further is really a moot point. It doesn’t matter if you can’t hit the pitch to begin with.
In the same way, do steroids have anything to do with the ballet that we see at second base every time a double play is turned?
Let’s lighten up a bit. Let’s enjoy the game and put aside the numbers game………….there’s too much to marvel at……..and I for one simply want to watch every at bat of a player like Mike Stanton……….and yes….Alex Rodriguez too!