David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are on the list. The New York Times dropped the bombshell that both players tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003.
Whether it comes as a shock or was something you long suspected, whether you root for the Red Sox or Yankees, whether you think Bud Selig is a hero or villain – this is not good news for the game.
Some people claim it’s ancient history, let it go. Others say, who cares? And then there are those who argue it’s the players’ bodies, let them put whatever substances they want into themselves.
But the Steroid Era doesn’t fit into a comfortable box. We still don’t know what to do with it or how to classify great players who played during that time. Hall of Famers spoke about the issue at this year’s induction ceremony in Cooperstown, and the debate will continue.
No amount of spin control or denials or rationalizations can change the fact that an entire generation of the national pastime has been tainted. Stick a big asterisk on every accomplishment and feat of the last 20 or so years. That includes every World Series champion, every MVP winner, every Cy Young pitcher and every Rookie of the Year. Fair or not, everyone from this era will always be viewed with suspicion. Guilty until proven innocent, only there’s no way to prove innocence except to take someone at his word.
And we can’t even do that anymore.
There were suspicions that David Ortiz used some type of performance enhancer, but nobody wanted to believe it was true. I was one of them. I supported him.
Now finding out that Ortiz allegedly is on the list (Manny isn’t as much of a surprise) just pushes the knife deeper into the back of every baseball fan who still believes integrity is not a myth, who still believes athletes are role models and sports have the power to influence society in a positive way.
Just because everyone else was doing it doesn’t make it right. Cheating is cheating. Playing dirty tarnishes all those magical memories and cheapens the legacy a little bit. But you can’t rewrite history. What’s done is done. The worst part about this whole ugly saga is the hypocrisy and lack of accountability. Nobody wants to own up to his mistakes and bad choices.
The boys of summer seem to have forgotten how to act like men. But admitting wrongdoing and apologizing for it would be the first step to beginning the healing process.
We won’t be able to turn the page on this chapter of baseball history until all 104 names on the list are revealed, until all of baseball’s sins are confessed, until it’s no longer the top story. The way these names are trickling out, that could happen by around 2021 if we’re lucky. This is Chinese water torture. It’s the story that won’t die. With every new name, the wound is reopened, and America’s game loses another coat of innocence.
This country used to be an example of doing the right thing. Now we can’t even run our national pastime without a controversy surfacing every three months. The most disheartening thing is that it’s not even a new controversy.
It’s kind of like being a kid and finding out that Santa Claus is mom and dad. Then discovering there is no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Before long, you’re a card-carrying nihilist who believes the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King weren’t carried out by lone, crazed gunmen, but were part of a vast global conspiracy to prevent civil rights from progressing, orchestrated by the same people who staged the moon landing.
How long are we going to be held hostage by the steroid story?
Going back to the days of segregation, baseball has always had problems. But the league was always able to find a solution.
Now baseball is stuck in quicksand.
As long as money can be made on the steroids scandal, that’s where the game will stay. And from the looks of comment boards on the Internet today, change isn’t coming anytime soon.
We’re all part of this mess.
But the time has come to start the cleanup process.
Just because someone used a performance-enhancing drug doesn’t make him a pariah. It makes him human. That shouldn’t prevent a player from getting into the Hall of Fame if he is deserving and apologizes for what he did.
Wiping out a whole era of baseball just because some people broke some rules that didn’t exist at the time doesn’t make any sense. Yes, using PEDs may have been against the law, but it wasn’t the players’ fault they could use them all those years without any drug testing in place, and they shouldn’t continue to be punished after the fact. Everyone needs to stop vilifying the players who used PEDs, and castigate the system that allowed that culture to develop.
It’s not too late.
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