Tarnishing the game

William Dawson III

Now that Jason Giambi has admitted to using steroids, baseball is faced with one of the biggest scandals ever. This fiasco ranks right up there with the 1919 Chicago “Black” Sox betting against themselves and throwing the World Series and Pete Rose gambling on the team he was coincidentally managing at the same time. Basically, this is the type of event that any executive in baseball hopes will never happen.

Since the player’s strike in ’94, baseball has been desperately trying to restore its image with the fans. Slowly, the league has successfully been able to do so. With the Red Sox winning the World Series this past season, baseball had one of the greatest stories in a long time. So much for that. Instead of gaining more popularity with fans, the sport now faces another scandal in which it will be forced to take extreme measures to prove it still values integrity.

But what is the effect that this scandal will have on the fans?

Obviously, some will feel violated. Barry Bonds is currently chasing one of the most historic and prestigious records in the game. Instead of doing so with legitimacy, his legacy will now be largely remembered for his use of plausible deniability. The slugger admitted to a grand jury that he “unknowingly” took steroids. How can anyone make such an outrageous claim? Honestly, if you put drops of a mystery liquid under your tongue and that substance makes you grow muscle, chances are it is some form of a steroid. Anyone who attempts to take such actions, then make bogus excuses for his dealings belongs in the Bush cabinet.

While some people will be disgusted with this incident, as many should be, there are still young fans who adore these athletes. What is the message being sent to them? These young fans are being told it is ok to cheat. They are being told that when you cheat and are caught red handed you can lie your way out of it. Is this really a message that anyone wants sent to their child?

In addition to big name players having their reputations destroyed and children being told it is perfectly fine to refuse to take responsibility for their actions, there is a stigma that has been placed on home runs. Many people automatically connect home runs with steroid use. This stigma began with Mark McGwire, androstenedione, and his home run chase in ’98. These issues of illegal substances will be raised even more now with the designer steroid, THG, and the Balco labs led by Victor Conte. Until the game does something to separate itself from steroids, the fans will continue to make this association.

Clearly, the players association refuses to allow the league to test the players for steroid use. Therefore, this needed separation will most likely cause another labor strike or will never happen. This is not good for the game, the players, or the fans. Until something is done, players will continue to “juice” and break previously untouchable records. New names will be placed in the record books along with a glaring “*”. As long as fans don’t mind this symbol for cheaters, illegitimacy, and lack of integrity, let the boys play ball.