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Major League Baseball...The Naive Sport of America
Baseball, America's favorite past time. Lately, it has fallen to the bottom of the ranks in popularity amongst major professional sports. The league has cracked down hard on athletes testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, and as a result, the sport has lost interest among the younger generation and it's records are all compromised. The league is trying to "do the right thing" but it's a double edged sword.
Some of the best players of the modern era are being ostracized from the sport because of their connection with PED's. Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Roger Clemens just to name a few. At the anniversary of Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth's homerun record, the media has opened the discussion of whether or not Aaron is still the rightful owner of the homerun record. With the emergence of social media, a professional athlete's every move is scrutinized and dissected. We've all been taught since we were children that cheating is wrong, but are the above mentioned athletes being treated unfairly just because they got caught?
Consider this: We have documented evidence of NFL players in the 60's, 70's, and 80's admitting to using steroids or some form of performance enhancing substances. Lyle Alzado openly admitted to using steroids and they ended up costing him his life. He acknowledged that 90% of professional athletes used anabolic steroids. At this time, we're not talking about the Human Growth Hormones that players are taking now. These guys were shooting up horse steroids and other dangerous substances. Mike Golic openly admitted to the Philadelphia Eagles having bowls of Amphetamines sitting in the locker room for players to grab and take when ever they wanted them. With this going on in the NFL, you would have to be naive to think that the same thing wasn't happening in other major sports. Who's to say that Hank Aaron or any of the other greats weren't taking some type of performance enhancers or steroids? I'm not in a position to make claims on any particular individual, but it's asinine to even think that players from other era's weren't taking something.
Barry Bonds broke Hank Aaron's homerun record, but Major League Baseball has put an asterisk next to it because of ties with performance enhancing drugs. Even though Bonds has never admitted to using anything and all the evidence is simply speculation, he's still being cast out from baseball. You are also naive if you think he didn't use something, but is it fair to leave him out of the hall of fame? I say no. Allow me to explain. In his first seven years with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Barry Bonds hit 176 HR's, 556 RBI's, and 984 hits. This was well before any PED rumors hit Major League Baseball. In fact, before the infamous 73 home run season in 2001, Bonds recorded 494 homeruns. This would put him in the hall of fame if I were voting. Now I know some would say "how do we not know if Bonds wasn't using before the 2001 season?" My response would be "we don't." Just like we don't know if Hank Aaron or Willie Mays or any other player from the past was using performance enhancing substances.
The stigma on performance enhancing drugs is slightly unfair. There are extremely dangerous drugs out there that guys used to take, such as animal steroids and other inject-able serums. But most of today's PED's are testosterone boosters or human growth hormone enhancers. Testosterone and HGH are produced by our bodies naturally. Players are taking these supplements to give them an edge and help their bodies recover faster and prevent fatigue and injury.
With players becoming naturally faster and stronger and demands and pressures overwhelming the athletes to perform at higher levels each and every year, it's just a matter of time when these supplements will be administered by doctors and given to athletes to prevent major injuries and help them live longer and healthier lives. Mark Cuban is currently funding a program to test certain supplements and verify the safety and effectiveness of the drugs.
If this program is successful and becomes a part of the culture in professional sports, Major League Baseball would almost have to put the players accused of using PED's into the hall of fame and make their records legit in the books. I for one would be all for these players taking their rightful place among the legends of the game.