What do these names have in common? Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmero, Alex Rodriguez, Jose Canseco, and Manny Ramirez. If you said they all have taken steroids or are widely believed to have taken steroids, you are correct. If you also answered that they are some of the most exciting players of the last 25 years, you'd also be correct. Steroids have a harmful effect on a person's body, but they actually helped baseball reach new heights and created a more entertaining sport for the casual fan.
Who remembers the home run chase between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa in 1998? Never in my life was I so interested in the game to game stats of any sport as I was that year. Both McGuire and Sosa were on pace to break the home run record, held by Roger Maris. Eventually, Mark McGwire would set the record at 70, and Sosa ended the season with 66. Both beat Maris' record of 61, which to this day is staggering. Years later, both were accused of steroid use, and are widely believed to have taken them McGwire has come clean since and admitted his use of steroids and human growth hormones. McGuire's record stood until 2001, when Barry Bonds smashed 73 homers and, eventually, set the all time home run record. Once again, there was a lot of evidence pointing towards Bonds using the drug, and it is widely accepted that he used it. Manny Ramirez will always be remembered for "Manny being Manny", but people seem to forget that he is also a member of the 500 home run club, and has over 1800 RBI. Roger Clemens is one of the greatest pitchers of all time, with over 300 wins and 4000 strikeouts. He was won multiple Cy Young Awards and World Series championships, but has been dogged for steroid use for years. Alex Rodriguez may go down as a top 3 hitter of all time when all is said and done, but he also admitted steroid use during his MVP 2003 campaign. There must be something to this stuff if everyone is using it, huh?
These players are the most iconic of their era, and they made baseball millions upon millions of dollars, but they are painted as criminals.They will never be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, because media writers consider the use of steroids cheating. Steroids were not against the rules in the MLB until 2002, and players were not being suspended until 2005, so to say that Sosa and McGwire were "cheating" during their record chase is false because neither were using a banned substance according to their employers, and the same goes for Barry Bonds, who was a phenomenal player even before the home run chase.
The amount of attention payed towards baseball has been on a downward trend for the most part in recent years. Rampant drug testing has hurt players, and more recently, teams in contention. About two weeks ago, the All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera was suspended 50 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs. He had become an incredibly popular player in San Francisco, and was helping to lead the team to a playoff berth. Now, with his recent positive test, the team will be missing one of it's biggest bats, and potentially could miss the playoffs when all Cabrera was doing was trying to increase his production to help his team. Not even a week later did pitcher Bartolo Colon also test positive for PED's, and was also suspended 50 games. The Athletics were also in a playoff chase and, despite being on the outside, had a very good chance at making it for the first time in a while. Sadly, Colon was also penalized for attempting to help his team win games, and despite holding a Wild Card spot, can still very easily get cold at the wrong time and be knocked out of playoff contention.
While these PED's are harmful to each individual player's health, it is their decision to take the supplement. In Jose Canseco's book "Juiced", he argues that baseball would be better if everyone took steroids, because they would lead to a more exciting sport and faster injury recovery time. So, now that you know my standpoint, how do you feel on the subject? Let me know in the comments below.