Thursday, December 13, 2007

Does our ignoring the obvious make us just as culpable as the PED ingesting players?

I try to keep the level of snark quite high on TWFE, but I'm not feeling it today. There's no link dump today either, as it's truly the quiet before the storm. The storm being the "Mitchell report."

Today's release of the report that will (supposedly) expose the seamy underside of that was baseball in the 90's, thanis to the out-of-control, rampant use of PED's, has me feeling quite melancholy.

I've stated on TWFE before that baseball will always be number 1 with me. I love other sports, especially the NFL and NCAA football, but I've had a closer relationship with baseball than with any other sport.

I'm sure most of you are like me. Baseball was the first team sport you played, and also the last. I played the baseball in some sort of organized fashion from the age of 6 on, all through school, and then softball into my late 30's. I can't say that about an other sport.

I can say the same about my sports fandom, The Detroit Tigers were the first team I religiously followed. The first team I saw play in person. The first team I saw win a championship. The most fun I ever had following a team was the out of left field joy that was 2006 Tigers. The Tigers were the first everything when it came to my love of sports. I've been a baseball fan through great times, and unspeakably awful times.

In other words, baseball is THE game, the ONLY game. A game inexorably tired with PED's.

As we wait for the release of the Mitchell report at 2 pm, I'm not sure how I should feel.

I'm positive that some Tigers will be in the report. We have a good idea as to whom they will be, Ivan Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield being the most obvious. Two players quite instrumental in making the Tigers what they are today, one of the elite teams in MLB. Should I no longer be fans of two obviously talented players, who didn't need to juice, but did anyway, who will play huge roles in the most anticipated Tigers season in decades, maybe ever?

They're Tigers, and I'm a fan. More than anything, as much as we don't want to admit it, we root for the jerseys, the Olde English D. For that matter, if they juiced, it was before they were Tigers anyway. So yes, I'll root for them. Those aren't exactly good reasons, but no one said sports fandom was logical.

With that admission out of the way, I have nothing but questions.

Should I be pissed that players used PED's to destroy long held hallow records? Upset that it's quite likely they broke the law in obtaining PED's? Turned off by the fact that these players disregarded the moral issues involved in what was essentially cheating? Unhappy that the 90's thru the early '00's were dominated by 'roided up hulks who did so without giving thought to what long-term damage they may be doing to themselves, let alone the game most of us love?

Christ, maybe I'm just as guilty for not paying attention to what was happening before our eyes. Most of us ignored the obvious, much like the powers that be in MLB, and instead enjoyed the resurgence of a game that had dropped in popularity thanks to labor strife. A resurgence primarily fueled by PED's.

I watched, and cheered on, a cartoonishly muscled Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa, as they pounded Roger Maris' home run record into submission. I remember the McGuire creatine controversy, which was, in many ways, the key that unlocked the PED era to the public. To be honest, I didn't think much of it, I was just awed by the jaw dropping numbers. In the back of my head, I knew these guys were on something, but I chose to let it slide. So did MLB...

And here we are, some 10 years later, finally waiting for the other juiced shoe to drop. How things have changed since the crazy, 'roid riddled, 90's.

Barry Bonds will be going on trial for lying in front of a grand jury about taking PED's. McGuire, Sosa, and Rafael Palmero all made fools of themselves testifying in front of congress, denying their now obvious use of steroids. Jose Canseco, once thought to be a self-aggrandizing loon, was actually telling the truth about steroids and baseball. Records are now questioned. Deserving players won't be elected into the hall of fame because of the decisions they made to become users of PED's. Some baseball legends will have their name forever soiled. MLB looks absolutely clueless, and will be deservedly drug though the mud.

The steroid era is what it is, and the fallout will last for years.

So I'm not going to be all self-righteous about the release of the Mitchell report. Because in looking the other way, not questioning what we saw, we fans were partially responsible. And I have to admit, if I was in the same position as some of these ballplayers, with such massive amounts money at stake, money that would set up your family for generations, I'm can honestly say I would have been damn temped to juiced up.

I'm glad that MLB has now says they cleaned up their act. But after all we've seen, can we really say that baseball is clean, and be absolutely sure? I doubt we ever will.


  1. I think this whole thing is a mess that MLB has been foolishly ignoring. Now what do they do? They can't really ignore Bonds and Clemens like they can the rest.

    So here's my suggestion: Allow those players like the above two into the Hall of Fame (assuming they're qualified), and either put a big-ass asterisk on their plaque, or open up a special wing of the Hall for them. Call it "The Hall of Shame", and fill it with info on 'roids and all the other goodies these assholes took.

    All that being said, I agree that it's a tough call. If I knew I could make $15 million for playing baseball six months out of the year, you bet your ass I'd be doing PED. Once you get a couple seasons of that, then like you say, the temptation to cheat to keep the money flowing is there.

    The Guardians of Baseball knew about the problem years ago, and sold their souls. After that, the players can't really be punished. Everyone's guilty.

    That being said, since we know Canseco was the only honest person here, I'd like to see him given a fair shot at the HOF. Hell, maybe he deserves to get in just for being the catalyst for the Mitchell Report.

    Oh, and relative to the later post you did, With Leather says Pudge was named. Unless I misunderstood their post.

  2. This is so stupid. MLB needs to do everything they can to keep the 'roids out of the game now.

    Going back in time and trying to enforce standards that nobody cared about at the time is a pointless waste of time. THey weren't hurting anybody else and nobody cared at the time. Should we have cared? Yes, but we didn't it is time to move on.

    THis is like trying to prosecute college kids for drinking when they were minors 10 years after the fact. You do what you can get away with.

  3. AMEN gman!!You can pump yourself full of PEDs, but you still have to some level of talent for them to make a difference. It's what I have said about Barry Bonds all along. The man hit the long ball, but he also won batting titles. PEDs don't win batting titles, talent does.

    No asteriks needed...They played by the rules establishd by MLB.