Well, we finally have the answer that we have all been anxiously awaiting…Mark McGwire has shocked the world by admitting that he utilized steroids and human growth hormone during his professional career. This comes at a tremendous surprise to me – OK, so I am being sarcastic. Anyone that follows baseball would likely agree that this news is not a shocker, especially when looking at how large the man is. Mark McGwire cheated and I am not surprised by his admission.
When you look at McGwire’s career statistics, one main category obviously jumps off of the page – Home runs. McGwire is currently 8th on the all-time career home run list with 583, tied with Alex Rodriguez. In addition, McGwire was the first in my lifetime to break Roger Maris’ single season home record at 61, by homering 70 times during the 1998 season. (Note that Sammy Sosa also broke the record that same year by clearing the wall 66 times. Sosa has been tied to the steroid scandal as well.)
There are people that subscribe to the teachings that McGwire should have an asterisk by all of his statistics in the record book, and they can make a pretty good argument. He cheated on baseball, and he needs to pay the price. However, there are former players who also cheated, and have been dealing with a fate far worse than having a symbol next to their name and career stats. Take a look at Pete Rose, who was banned from baseball after placing bets while he was a coach for the Cincinnati Reds. Rose would deny the allegations for a long time, before finally admitting to betting on baseball in his book. MLB brass could care less about Rose’s admission, opting to not reconsider lifting the lifetime ban. Rose is still not eligible to play, coach, or be admitted into the Hall of Fame to this day.
I maintain that no matter which drugs that a person takes, that person won’t necessarily hit more home runs than a player who is not on steroids. Baseball is a game of hand-eye coordination, and not sheer power. A player such as Craig Biggio can take the same pitch and hit the ball over the wall as the steroid-ridden player. Now it may not go as far, but it’s still a home run. There is no difference between 500 foot homers and 430 foot homers (OK, I admit that it is good for marketing.) – but it goes down as a “HR” in the box score. I argue that steroids affect the game by prolonging a player’s career in keeping him healthy enough to play beyond what may have previously been considered.
I do not advocate the use of steroids or any performance enhancing drug. With players doing everything that they can to give themselves an edge, including illegal activities, the pureness of the game is taken away. When someone comments that an asterisk should be placed next to that player’s name in the record book, I would argue that a double standard exists. If you are going to asteriskize (asteriskize is my own creation) Mark McGwire’s name, then you need to do the same to the Pete Roses and the Shoeless Joe Jackson’s of Major League Baseball, because they all have one thing in common – They all broke the rules and should be punished…equally. McGwire should be banned from baseball, because his actions, along with all other exposed and unexposed users have had the most detrimental affect on the game.
McGwire Admits to Steroid Use