Enough With Baseball and Steroids
Roland Martin | 6/23/2009, 5:35 p.m.
I played the game in elementary school and in high school.
But now I'm sick of it, especially when steroids are brought up.
The latest baseball drama surrounds a New York Times report quoting two lawyers who say that former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa's name was on a list of players who tested positive for an illegal substance in 2003. The list supposedly contains more than 100 names of players who tested positive that year.
This report comes on the heels of New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez's admitting that he used performance-enhancing drugs a few years ago, the Los Angeles Dodgers' Manny Ramirez's testing positive and being suspended for 50 games, and the continuing drama surrounding Roger Clemens. All three were considered locks for the Hall of Fame. But based on what we keep hearing, that won't happen, because we're in a holier-than-thou era.
OK, got it. Baseball had a terrible drug problem. Now it has a drug-testing plan in place that has some teeth in it. So can we just move on?
Seriously, I'm tired of rehashing the drama. As a sports enthusiast, I would love nothing better than to think that athletes in baseball, football, basketball or any other sport are as pure as heroes from yesteryear. But cheating is cheating. It has been around from day one, and if a player thinks he can get an edge, well, it's a good bet he will try to get it.
Sosa always had been suspected of using drugs, but now that two lawyers say they saw his name on the infamous sheet, he has gone, according to Rick Telander's column in the Chicago Sun-Times, "from hero to zero."
But you know what? I don't care. Can we all just accept the fact that all of baseball -- players, management, owners, unions -- turned a blind eye to the performance-enhancing drugs ravaging the sport? They did so because baseball was on its way to being comparable to the National Hockey League or soccer in the U.S. -- irrelevant to sports fans.
After the strike in 1994 wiped out the World Series, fans were angry and didn't give a lick about the sport. But then came 1998 and the home run derby put on by St. Louis Cardinal Mark McGwire and Sosa, both trying to break the record of 61 homers in a year, set by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees.
Fans were riveted by the hitting prowess of the two, and people were following their every at-bat. I was working at Dallas' KRLD-AM that summer, and we would break into programming to broadcast the call of each of their at-bats when they were about to break the record. Yeah, everyone had Sosa-McGwire fever.
Baseball became relevant again. The players redeemed themselves; people in management were happy to say they worked for the sport; and the owners were delirious because the money came rolling in.
So there we have it. All of baseball pulled a Robert Johnson, the legendary blues singer who supposedly got his gift for music by making a pact with the devil. Or maybe it was more like pulling a Judas. The sport turned in its integrity for a few pieces of silver.
Let's just accept that as a fact, acknowledge those were the dark days and move on. It's just tiring to keep going back to what happened then. It's done. It's over. So let it go.
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at www.RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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