As football fans, we watched in horror as baseball whored itself to steroids. With Bonds about to take out Aaron’s HR record, feelings are mixed with excitement and resentment. Is Bonds entitled to the recognition as all-time HR king?
A little review first.
Everyone knows that steroids provide more strength. Len Dykstra hit ~5 or 6 HRs per year as a leadoff batter before hitting 19 in a contract year after allegedly taking steroids. (25M later, we never saw that number again.)
Enter 1994, when a player-led strike ravaged fan support and the World Series was lost. TV ratings and stadium attendance plummeted. Yes, there was a degraded state of pitching due to franchise expansion, juiced balls etc.. Home runs were rising and fans liked scoring.
Steroids provided something else too… increased visual acuity. Baseball chose to look the other way as McGuire and Sosa obliterated a record that stood for so many decades. Clearly something changed. Combine the power to spare of guys like Palmiero, McGuire and Sosa with better vision and you start getting eye popping results. As the story goes, Bonds watched in dismay and disgust as McGuire (and Sosa) was put on a pedestal. Why not him? He decided that if baseball was going to look the other way so that McGuire could save the sport from its 1994 horrors then he would partake as well.
First came the 2001 season when Bonds broke McGuire’s record for HRs in a single season. But everyone knew that something was wrong when Bonds hit 45HRs in ~350 AtBats at the age of 40!
1986-2000 494 HRs 7456 AtBats.. 1 HR/15 AtBats
2001-2004 209 HRs 1642 AtBats.. 1 HR/8 AtBats
The human body simply does not get better from 37-40 than it was from 22-36.
So Bonds is turning 43 and he will break the record shortly. Do we applaud? Do we protest? Does MLB strike the record from the books if he used steroids? And what about guys like Palmiero and McGuire, who testified under oath and now have a stench of illegal performance enhancement?
WHAT ABOUT THE COMPLICITY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL?
Lyle Alzado won a Super Bowl with the Raiders, and he admitted using steroids. Do we take that title away too? Guys like Byron Hunt would piss in Lawrence Taylor’s cup so that LT would not fail his random drug tests for cocaine. LT would have been kicked out of football if he failed ONE more test. Does this mean that BOTH Super Bowls the Giants won should be negated? And what about the list of NFL players who used steroids? It is so lengthy and embarrassing that it would probably wreck 2-3 decades of winners. Two days ago we found out that an NBA referree was fixing games the past few seasons for the mob. Does this give enough evidence to turn back results?
Professional Sports has a lot of credibility to uphold. We can sit back as fans and judge Bonds all we want, but there is plenty of hypocrisy to go around. I am no fan of Bonds. I will not be watching when he breaks the record. But I have decided that it is a little too late to be judging him.