Performance enhancing drugs have been good for the game of baseball. What did he just say? Before people line up to burn me on the cross, I’ll explain my thinking. First off, I believe it’s cheating and I don’t condone it. However, I don’t think Major League Baseball would be having the success it is enjoying right now if not for performance enhancing drugs. I also do not think they will ever completely stamp out the use of PED’s. The players seem to be able to stay ahead of the curve on concealing their use. Most of the players that were recently implicated and subsequently suspended in the Biogenesis embarrassment NEVER tested positive. If it weren’t for a former Biogenesis employee leaking information to the Miami New Times, Major League Baseball would still be in the dark about the entire situation. So what?
Not too long ago Mark McGwire pounded his fist on a table and pointed his finger at Congress. Sammy Sosa forgot how to speak English. Barry Bonds’ head had to have its own zip code. Now Ryan Braun is calling season ticket holders to apologize, and Alex Rodriguez whom after admitting the use of PED’s from 2001-03, now vows he’s clean despite the fact that the Biogenesis scandal broke with his name all over their paperwork. Now comes the tough question: Does it even matter?
Professional baseball IS big business. The billions of dollars that the sports industry generates annually is reason enough for owners to turn a blind eye to the fact that players are using performance enhancing drugs or supplements. Despite the black eye the guilty or accused are giving their sports, the net result is that teams are still seeing record numbers at the gate. Merchandise still flies off the shelves, and fans are still tuning in to watch on T.V. When McGwire and Sosa were hitting home runs at a historic clip in 1998, or Bonds in 2001, I doubt many people really gave much thought as to how they were doing it. Again, who cares?
I know there are the traditionalists who will say that the PED issue gives the game a bad name, they are hurting their character, or it’s tainting the honor of our national pastime. News flash: it hasn’t been about honor or character in a long time. Bottom line is that baseball is an entertainment business. As long as guys are hitting 50 bombs, stealing 70 bases, and striking out 250 batters, the fans are going to pack the stadiums, buy the merchandise, and tune in to watch on television. I say baseball is a business, and their business it to entertain and make money. I hope one day they can get all players on a level playing field. Until that day, sit back and enjoy the show. It’s still the game we grew up playing and loving as kids.
Photo Credit: The National Post