Did the steroids scandals tarnish the integrity of the game for Major League Baseball? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
I believe it has. What steroids and Human Growth Hormone (HGH) have done is raise suspicion that, from the mid-1990’s through the mid-2000’s, all position players who exceeded their career averages for home runs and all pitchers who amassed high strikeout totals had their performances chemically enhanced.
Ballplayers whose numbers had been average to underwhelming for most of their careers suddenly put up amazing home run totals. For example, Baltimore Orioles outfielder Brady Anderson, whose previous home run high was 21, hit 50 in 1996, raising suspicions of steroid use that were never proven.(1)
By providing these players an unfair advantage over players who chose not to use performance-enhancing drugs, the game has diminished the feats of players over the history of the game, whose amazing seasonal and career totals now seem pedestrian when compared to the juiced statistics of baseball’s cheaters.
Noted cheaters of the steroid era like Rafael Palmeiro, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez, Ryan Braun and others tested positive but also managed to alter, filibuster or challenge the results of other tests showing positive results for steroid usage.
Some players like Eric Gagne, Andy Pettite and Jason Giambi admitted steroid usage to recover from injury and were largely forgiven by their fans. David Ortiz claimed he “using what everybody was using at the time,” referring to the supplements “he was taking.(2)
Suspected cheaters like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of whom were indicted on charges arising from steroid use(3), had been given little chance of being elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame. But, to paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’.
Opinions from younger baseball writers, however, have changed the Hall of Fame landscape. They argue that steroid use, suspected or proven, should not be the sole criterion used to determine one’s eligibility. There is no way to truly isolate the records from the steroid era from those preceding it. As proof of this, one need only look to Jeff Bagwell, who was suspected of steroid use, and his election to the Hall this year.
As for me, I agree with older players like Rich “Goose” Gossage, former pitcher for the Yankees, White Sox and other teams who says that steroid users should not be rewarded for cheating. “Cheaters should absolutely not be in the Hall of Fame.”(4)