Bud Selig and Major League Baseball need to take an official stance on the Steroid Era once and for all. Burying their head in the sand and paying lip service to a situation in which they were complicit in creating is no longer an option. The integrity of the game, arguably, already tarnished beyond repair, will only begin the process of healing when speculation, secret testing results and the current “ignore it and it will go away attitude” are no longer part of the league’s official position on the subject.
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the Mecca for players, coaches, and fans alike is a revered and hallowed institution that houses, archives and preserves the game’s greatest players, achievements, and statistics. Those statistics, unlike those of ANY OTHER SPORT, have become littered with suspicion, asterisks, innuendo, dissent and ridicule. The disservice done by MLB in the treating of this issue only complicates the situation as the murky debates and prejudice on the parts of the Hall’s election committees will continue to convolute and pollute the game’s revered shrine until a permanent solution is reached.
The answer, while not perfect, is quite simple. The Hall, and the league, needs to acknowledge and endorse the existence of the “era” by accepting complicit blame in a public statement visible to Cooperstown patrons as they enter a permanent exhibit highlighting the era and the personalities and players involved or even suspected.
Such a statement might read;
“The mid 1990’s marked one of the low points for Major League Baseball. Disenfranchised fans left the game in droves following the strike shortened season of 1994 that resulted in the canceling of the game’s greatest stage, the World Series. The years that followed saw, at the time, some of the most dramatic moments in the history of the game. Most notably of these was the historic single season record Home Run Chase of 1998 between the Chicago Cub’s Sammy Sosa and the St Louis Cardinal’s Mark McGwire who eventually broke Roger Maris long held record of 61 home runs.
The years the followed saw a disproportionate amount of Home Runs being hit that catapulted such players as Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, the aforementioned Sosa and McGwire, Gary Sheffield, Manny Ramirez and the game’s eventual all-time Home Run King, Barry Bonds, into the iconic and legendary 500 Home Run Club. All of these players have been, in some way, shape or form, linked to the league’s eventual investigation into the use of PED’s (Performance Enhancing Drugs). These drugs include, but are not limited to anabolic steroids and HGH (Human Growth Hormone).
It should be noted that the suspected and alleged use of PED’s was not limited simply to superstar power hitters but ace pitchers including Roger Clemens and Andy Petite, to name a few as well.
While these circumstances are tragic and have cheated the game and its fans of the level playing field in which the game’s statistics and its players have been able to be compared across generations, Major League Baseball was complicit in turning a blind eye to the statistical anomalies preferring instead, to relish the increased TV ratings and attendance numbers rather than the integrity of the game itself.
These circumstances and the history it created, can no longer be ignored. This exhibit will permanently house displays and artifacts as a tribute to this era, regardless of what the Hall of Fame’s voting committees decide on the eligibility of the players allegedly or proved to be, involved in the use of performance enhancing drugs. Welcome to the Steroid Era exhibit of the Baseball Hall of Fame. If we fail to recognize our game’s history and failures, we are doomed to repeat it.”