Time for MLB to strike PED users from record books
BY HERB GOULD email@example.com August 6, 2013 11:26AM
Fans holds a sign made for New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez during the first inning of a baseball game between Yankees and the Chicago White Sox in Chicago, Monday, Aug. 5, 2013. Rodriguez was suspended through 2014 when Major League Baseball disciplined 13 players in a drug case, the most sweeping punishment since the Black Sox scandal nearly a century ago. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
Updated: August 6, 2013 1:24PM
I know this rant will fall on deaf ears. But every time a sordid tale of major-league stars ``who have everything but want more’’ through performance-enhancing drugs surfaces, this is what I think of: When are they going to take the names of Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and other co-conspirators out of the record book?
This is not only an insult to the accomplishments of Hank Aaron, Roger Maris, Babe Ruth and many others. It’s disrespectful to the thousands who played the game without PEDs. And it basically takes a dump on the records of baseball, a game whose pride is interwoven uniquely into its statistics.
In my mind, the record for home runs, career, is Hank Aaron, 755, surpassing Babe Ruth, 714.
And the record for home runs, single season, is 61, Roger Maris, 1961. That surpassed 60, Babe Ruth, 1927.
Shame on Alex Rodriguez, the latest defiler of America’s national pastime, and the others who were suspended on Monday.
But why haven’t past cheaters like Bonds, McGwire and Sosa at least been stricken from the record book?
If Major League Baseball chose to try and recover some of their bloated salaries and put those funds to a good charitable use, that would be appropriate.
That, of course, is not going to happen. But eradication of records and banishment from the game ought to be the minimums. The fact that McGwire is a hitting coach is shameful.
Why won’t baseball do the right thing when it comes to keeping its record book straight and keeping cheaters out of its dugouts?
It’s because of us. The fans and media. If we demanded it, it would happen. That’s why the penalties were so harsh for the Black Sox of 1919. If the cheaters hadn’t been summarily dismissed with lifetime bans, the public would have perceived baseball as a tainted game and stayed away.
The problem with the home-run records is that fans enjoyed the McGwire-Sosa home-run duel, which was warm and fuzzy as well as phony, so much they don’t want it soiled by the truth.
The home-run fest brought fans back to a strike-addled game, rather than driving them away. And people are willing to overlook that the contest was rigged because they enjoyed the slugging so much, even if it was fantasy baseball.
I know the argument is that previous generations of players used amphetamines and other artificial stimulants, but the cause-and-effect wasn’t nearly on the same plane as PED use. Drinking coffee or using a concentrated energy product, which greenies have more in common with than PEDs, to stay hyperactive is a lot different than shooting up with a needle to heal the body, or keep it from breaking down in the first place.
Obviously, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of transgressors. Removing all of their deeds from baseball’s cherished records isn’t realistic.
But MLB at least ought to do the right thing with the home-run records. The single-season home-run record is one of the most significant records in all of sports. The only other one that comes readily to mind is track-and-field’s mile.
I can think of many reasons why striking PED-inflated home-run totals from the record book would be a good thing. The reasons for not doing it are as phony as the home-run totals themselves.