Over on Welch’s Warblog, I left a comment offering a comparison between steroid-hyped batters cheating the game and gamblers cheating and was pretty roundly rebutted. Kevin Featherly treads the same path, but with a subtler juxtaposition and better results.
Some deny that this is a crisis, fashioning it is a mere embarrassment. But why would anyone imagine that throwing a World Series to gamblers in one year (1919) constitutes a greater travesty than handing an immortal record like Hank Aaron’s home run championship–the most famous, most notable achievement in all sport–to someone who has bought and paid for the pharmacological, bioengineered fountain of youth?
Is there anyone left who believes that illegal chemicals are not the sole reason that Barry Bonds has hit more home runs after age 35–the age that the human body naturally begins to lose muscle mass–than Roger Maris, a two-time American League MVP, hit in his entire career?
The analogy between gambling and steroids may be imperfect, but the impact on the game is equally devastating, so why not ban steroid users? As Kev points out, there is precedent in the Jenkins and Howe cases. I’m solidly behind lifetime bans — ones equally harsh as those meted out to Joe Jackson and Pete Rose. And I stand by my statement that if you’re not going to ban an artificially enhance masher, then you have no business banning Rose. For one thing, arguably, what the steroid users are doing is far worse than anything Rose is accused of.
As for John McCain and the rest of the feds getting involved in the issue, I say, “NO!” This is a matter for private enterprise to work out for itself. If the owners and the players won’t fix it, then the fans need to decide if they’ll stick with the game (enough will, I imagine to keep MLB profitable). I do hope baseball decides one way or the other, though — either it’s legal or it ain’t. There should be no more of this wink and a nod attitude. Fans, those who choose to stick with the game, have a right to know who’s doping and who isn’t.