In the comments, Johnnypavoratti said:
“I tend to agree with you on 90% of this, I’m not going to take down my Bonds/A-Rod posters, but I do have a problem with the fact that most of these guys will come out of this thing unscathed and, furthermore, that this sets an extremely bad example for just about everyone, from fans to younger players to former players. If you get caught doping in the MLB you will get away with with little more then a slap on the wrist and a tarnished image. Would that stop me from using? The fact is they broke the rules, many would say they cheated. If you cheat in the Olympics your medal gets taken away. If you cheat at the collegiate level you get suspended. I think the MLB needs to hold these guys to a higher standard, maybe the highest, & come up with some meaningful concequences for steroid use. What if these guys were using corked bats, or had umpires in their pockets? Using steriods does not make you a great athlete but it does give you an unfair advantage. I too will be happy when its all over but considering that the whole concept of competition/sport lies on the assumption that everyone is playing by the same rules I think that this is a serious issue which deserves some serious consideration.”
I was thinking I’d say a little more about steroids, and here’s a good chance. I totally admit to regarding illegal doping in baseball and other sports pretty differently in my mind, but when you buy a bag of oranges and a bag of apples at the store, they’re not the same price. Swimming, track & field, cycling and a number of other sports that have doping problems are all predicated almost exclusively on muscle function: either how fast you can move yourself with your muscles, or how fast you can move an object with your muscle (field events). Sure, at professional levels all of those sports involve some strategy and skill, but for the most part, they’re about how an athlete can build his or her body to make it go faster than other people’s bodies. Anabolic steroids without a doubt can change the composition of a body – and that’s why sprinters lose their medals, cyclists get banned for a few years, etc.
Baseball, however, is much more predicated on skill than strength or speed. You can be a fatass and be a great player. You can be totally skinny and be a great player. You can be fast or slow, but your speed only matters if you can pair it with a really baseball specific skill: how to read a fly ball, when in each pitcher’s motion you can start towards 2nd base, etc. This is why I don’s see steroid users up there with gamblers, cheaters, or fixers on the bad guy list. And honestly, I think the top levels of MLB know this: roids are terrible for the image of the game, but the game itself really doesn’t suffer. MLB doesn’t boot roid users until they test positive 3 times, because until then (when you’re really screwing over MLB), the punishment just doesn’t fit the crime. Ross Douthat from the Atlantic goes on to say that if MLB doesn’t step up (which it won’t, and shouldn’t) to kick steroid users out, players shouldn’t be banned (officially or unofficially from the HOF:
I don’t know exactly where steroid use should sit on the hierarchy of sins against the game: I think it’s worse than throwing spitballs and not as bad as throwing games, but how much worse and how much less noxious I’m not entirely sure. But I do know that to date, the only otherwise-deserving players who’ve been denied entry to the Hall – Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson – have been those who were guilty of infractions that got them banned them from the game for life. Now perhaps steroid users should be banned for life, but the fact remains that A-Rod and others stand accused of violating a rule that carried no penalty save treatment at the time that they (and dozens if not hundreds of other players whose names haven’t been leaked) broke it, and that today only gets you banned outright if you’re a three-time offender.
I think the testing regimen, the pr disaster in waiting (and corresponding possibility of a financial hit, depending on where you are in your contract/career), and the less than impressive track record of nobodies taking steroids and remaining nobodies will dissuade MLB players from abusing steroids in the future. Which is good, because the one thing that really gets me about roids (abuse by kids) needs to be cut off from the top. But baseball is baseball is baseball, whether we’re in the greenie era or the live ball era or the dead ball era or the sabermetric era or the steroid era.