Friday, December 14, 2007

Steroids - Kiss My Asterisk

"Records achieved while a player was relying on chemical assistance, should be prominently marked with an asterisk — to signify that the achievement was less praiseworthy than it seems." New York Times Editorial

In a surprisingly puerile editorial on the "shocking" Steroids in Baseball Report, the New York Times hit an absurd low with that last sentence. An asterisk to note players kinda sorta cheated? And are therefore "less praiseworthy"? Oh, please.

Athletes who used steroids to break records, become MVPs, make an All Star team or be named to the Hall of Fame didn't get there honorably. They cheated. Period. Forget the lame asterisk. Throw the bums out.

Hey, it's not like there's no precedent. Cheat in the Olympics, lose your medal. Cheat in the Tour de France, lose your title. Cheat in boxing, lose your belt. Cheat in a beauty contest, lose your crown. Cheat in a presidential election ... oh, wait, you don't get punished for that one.

Yes, baseball is the All American game, supposed to be above reproach, up there with Mom and Apple Pie. Pie my eye. Baseball's become an international multi-billion dollar business. Fans want to see stars hit the tar out of the ball.

It should surprise no one that during the past 20 years elite baseball players with multi-million dollar contracts very likely use something in the steroid family to get there. And to stay there. In a perfect world, they'd be there on merit alone. Hank Aaron was. Babe Ruth was.

Mitchell's list of steroid users is making a lot of noise. Let's not forget there's a much longer list of baseball players who made the grade honorably as good athletes, legitimate stars and genuine role models without chemical assistance.
Players who were and are clean and sober should be praised, rewarded and touted as the real All-American Heroes. The cheaters should be booted out on their asterisks.

When will the League and the owners figure out that baseball doesn't need steroids? Yeah, in football you need more size and strength. (Although take a look at the magical Brian Westbrook.) In basketball, height and speed. Hockey, balance and brawn.

In baseball, you've gotta have heart. Bottom line, it's every man for himself. It's a team game, but at the plate, on the mound or in the field, you're alone. If you don't go for your own personal best, you let down your team. If you can't do it on your own, you let down yourself.

Think I'm naive? Think about this: for every Barry Bonds, there's a Jimmy Rollins. I'll take the latter every time. And no asterisk will ever signify the enormous difference between a cheater and a winner.

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