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Jordan Bean | Sacked

A hopeless fight

Published: Friday, February 15, 2013

Updated: Friday, February 15, 2013 00:02

At what point will it become too much? I’ve written about it before, but the problem persists and grows stronger.

The latest twist in the saga that is the steroid debacle was a list released by a Miami newspaper containing many prominent players who had been supplied substances from an “anti−aging clinic” in the area.

The list contained some past possible offenders such as Alex Rodriguez and Ryan Braun but also contained new names like Gio Gonzalez. While all the information has yet to be fleshed out and some of the listed players deny being linked to the clinic altogether, the steroid problem continues, and it’s becoming increasingly harder to find and punish the perpetrators.

Major League Baseball (MLB) is vigorously pursuing the leads with regard to these players, but unfortunately the damage has already been done. The substances have been taken, the numbers have been marred and the game continues to be tarnished.

In the ever−changing sport of baseball, numbers and statistics have been a constant. The MLB has perennially prided itself on the achievements of individuals: home run and hitting titles, impressive batting averages and many other numerical categories. Hall of Fame inductees were not judged on wins or championships, but rather on their statistical contributions to the game and where their records ranked in regards to others who played the same position.

Baseball aficionados embraced the numbers and glorified them, whether it was Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs, Ricky Henderson’s 1,406 stolen bases or Pete Rose’s 4,256 hits — that is, before the gambling catastrophe.

Yet, numbers now are just that — numbers. What are Barry Bonds’ 73 home runs in 2001? Are they 45 home runs from him and 28−fly outs−turned−home runs by the steroids?

How about A−Rod’s 647 career home runs? How many have been hit legitimately? What will be the last straw in a long list of drug busts and breaking news stories? A time is coming, maybe all too soon, where steroids will no longer become breaking news but instead an afterthought. The ability to cheat is advancing faster than the ability to catch the wrongdoers. Illegal substances will be taken out of the system in the span of an afternoon and post−game tests will not be able to detect foreign or illegal substances.

The game is at a crossroads. Federal investigations have been attempted, such as the Mitchell Report, where far too much time, money and resources were wasted. Major League investigations have been completed only to be wasted on minor technicalities, for example the case with Braun. When is it time to give up on the battle against steroids? Giving up would not include a public statement ceasing drug testing and other means by which players are caught. It would mean flipping the script on the way justice is traditionally thought of in America. Players would be guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. Numbers would be followed by asterisks, records would contain footnotes and the game would be played as a shadow of what it had been.

By no means am I saying this is the direction that I want Major League Baseball to pursue, but it is the road being traveled by the players. They refuse to be tested for steroids because, as they say, they’re concerned for their privacy. A more plausible reason is their concern for being caught. It is time to start viewing the game with a grain of salt and being attentive to the fact that, no matter the punishment, players will continue to try and cheat the system to earn lucrative contracts and have their names etched in the history of the game. This time, though, the names will be etched with an asterisk. MLB Players — you’re sacked!

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