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Steroid use could benefit baseball 

Drug would bring excitement to dying American pastime

Spring is in the air, and with it comes a brand new baseball season.

I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember, and having started in the late 90s, my initial viewing was in the midst of the steroid era. Of course, at the time, no one knew for certain that several players were juicing, but in hindsight, it should have been obvious.

Regardless, no one was complaining when the home runs were being hit. In fact, they were cheering. The general sentiment at the time was “let the players choose what they put in their bodies, health hazards be damned.”

It was believed that every player should have the option of juicing, but that the actual decision should be left to each individual player. If everyone had the option to cheat, it would no longer be an unfair advantage.

I don’t think it should be made mandatory, but if players had the option, they would surely take the advantage, meaning other players would be forced to juice up in order to maintain and preserve a fair advantage.

Like most drugs, steroids have negative effects, but that hasn’t stopped players from trying to gain a competitive advantage. Some players have even tried to plead their innocence, claiming steroids quicken recovery from injury, but they’re suspended and ostracized all the same. It’s time to revoke suspensions and let major league superstars become the monsters from Space Jam.

How much fun was the late-90s rivalry between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa? Each player, under the guise of hard work that was really the result of performance-enhancing drugs, one-upped the other at every turn. They were each chasing the single-season home run record, though immorally. Nevertheless, their rivalry saved the game of baseball.

Coming off the 1994 season, which ended prematurely in mid-August due to a player’s strike against the owners, the sport’s popularity was incredibly low, and the only things that could save it were home runs. No matter what anyone says, no one tunes into a baseball game hoping for a pitcher’s duel. They want to see home runs, and they want to see them hit as far as humanly possible. Or in McGuire and Sosa’s case, they wanted to see them hit balls as far as superhumanly possible.

As of right now, steroids have this preconceived, negative connotation because everyone is told that steroids are bad. But if baseball embraced steroids and allowed players to use them at their own discretion, the sport could actually benefit. One of the greatest joys of the game is watching batting practice, where players attempt to time their swing properly an hour or so before the game begins. For some, this is the time when they can forgo their conditioning and just try to hit home runs as far as they can.

Consider batting practice a way to boost a player’s confidence, as they usually don’t see 90 miles per hour fastballs during this time, they’re more or less softballs lobbed over the plate. Just think of performance enhancing drugs as an extension of batting practice, as both will yield more home runs, and more home runs equals happier fans, and happier fans equals more money in the teams’ pockets.

I do wonder what the public’s perception of such an endeavor would be. As of now, even I condemn the players who decide to cheat, as I’m sure most baseball fans do. But if steroids did become commonplace, which I don’t expect to happen anytime soon, I wonder if fans would learn to love the once-cheaters, or perhaps, if they would gravitate away from the sport and flock to football, where head injuries are not rare, they’re expected.

Speaking of which, why is there such little regard in the game of football when it comes to concussions and other assorted head injuries, when baseball actually penalizes its players for harming themselves? Is it that head injuries are just expected in football, while baseball players can avoid using steroids altogether?

Look at it this way: To combat head injuries in baseball, MLB introduced new helmets to reduce the impact of a stray ball hitting a player in the head. Concussions do occur in baseball, a sevenday disabled list was even introduced as they became more common, but why is the NFL not adopting some of this technology? The NFL has shown little compassion for its players and their safety, not to mention their well-being when their playing careers are over, but baseball has made large strides to protect its players.

But to get back on point, while baseball has done well to protect its players, it has suffered in the ratings department, drastically falling behind football and basketball. Baseball is America’s pastime, but most Americans I know would rather watch a taped NFL game as opposed to a live MLB game. By promising fans more runs, which would create more excitement, the sport could reclaim its rightful throne atop America’s sports empire.

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2 Responses to Steroid use could benefit baseball

  1. JW

    Were you juicing when you wrote this article? Mistaken on so many levels.

    1) Spell McGwire’s name correctly.

    2) When exactly was it “believed that every player should have the option of juicing?” Never that I can recall.

    3) Under the guise of hard work? Do you really think that Sosa and McGwire didn’t work hard as well? That’s the sad part about the whole steroid situation… These guys were super talented to begin with and probably never needed the steroids. Did the ‘roids help? Absolutely. Was it responsible for all of their success. Definitely not.

    I could go on and on…

     
  2. Ted Cogswell

    Who says there isn’t excitement in baseball? If you’re not excited about a 2-1 pitchers duel as much as a 10-8 slugfest, you simply don’t like baseball. And you state “Regardless, no one was complaining when the home runs were being hit.” Well, I sure as hell was. It was obvious what was going on, it was obscene, and anyone who didn’t see it had to have had their heads in the sand.

     

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