Copyright 2006 David Maillie
In the last 5 years the growing popularity and use of illegal substances (steroids) in major league baseball has created a public outcry and led to indictments, arrests and congressional hearings. Some have even put major league baseball on par with professional wrestling as it is now a drugged or ‘juiced’ game and old, lasting records by the greats like Ruth and Hank Aaron can easily be broken by lesser athletes on steroids and have become meaningless. Just look at Barry Bonds for an example.
Barry Bonds became depressed in the late 90’s as new athletes like McGwire and Jose Conseco were becoming more popular for belting homeruns. Bonds was a great athlete, but he was aging and just like his father was headed for retirement. Bonds and everyone else knew that Conseco and the others were taking steroids. It was inevitable that Bonds would start taking steroids as he was very jealous and had an insatiable appetite for being the leader – he could not stand being in second place to anyone and he saw the great results of McGwire and Conseco.
Barry Bonds started taking numerous types of steroids through his trainer Greg Anderson. His physique, career and baseball would never be the same. Bonds was better after the steroids than anytime in his career. The steroids had elevated his career and possibly made him the best player in baseball history as he has now hit 722 career home runs. Only a few of the greatest players in Baseball history have ever hit into this range. It is similar to what Tiger Woods has done in Golf and his chasing Jack Nicklaus with his 18 career major titles. The difference is that Tiger Woods is a real champion and doesn’t use drugs like steroids or cheat in any way. Kids can look up to him as a hero.
Tiger Woods worked and trained very hard – he is also human as he went through a lot dealing with the loss of his father. Tiger woods through his great game and ethics has elevated professional golf and its fan base to all time highs. Barry Bonds, on the other hand, has devastated major league baseball and its rich history. Records are not meant to be broken on a daily or monthly basis. Records are just that records of greatness, by actual heroes like Joe DiMaggio, Ruth, Shoeless Joe Jackson, Hank Aaron, Mickey Mantle and Ty Cobb. They never used steroids and were great players both on and off the field.
What every professional athlete needs to understand is that our kids see them as idols, heroes and mentors. Its not about the money, its about the game. Ninety nine percent of professional athletes never become a great like Rod Carew, Michael Jordan, or Warren Moon, but they are all imprinted in our children. Everyone remembers the negatives like McEnroe and his emotional outbursts, Rae Caruth and O.J. Simpson whom have abused the legal system and their fame to commit murder, steroids, gambling and the expulsion of baseball legend Pete Rose. Don’t the leaders of these professional sports realize that they have tainted and in some respects ruined the future of sports like major league baseball.
To see immediate evidence of this all one has to do is look at the dwindling number of visitors to the baseball hall of fame in Cooperstown, NY. It used to be almost every young boys fantasy to see the outfit worn by Babe Ruth, the Ball that was signed by Reggie Jackson and his Yankee teammates, the stories of greatness and great hurdles and obstacles that were overcome by some of the legends. Rare baseball cards by players with strict standards like Honus Wagner whom had his cards pulled as he did not want to be associated with cigarettes and tobacco. The meaning of baseball’s rich history has greatly suffered and will continue until something drastic is done.
Athletes like Barry Bonds that cheat and use illegal performance enhancing drugs should be banned and immediately removed from baseball and other sports. They should receive punishment worse than Pete Rose and should be stripped of all records, titles, and history in the game. Let someone who worked hard, overcame adversity and great obstacles, and never cheated and had great ethics, standards and was a true hero be the one to determine their fate – someone like Hank Aaron. Hank Aaron set records, great records, the hard way and they are being tarnished by the likes of Barry Bonds and others. Hank Aaron, like Herschel Walker, overcame a very poor upbringing, racism, lack of resources, etc… and through sheer determination became one of the greatest athletes ever.
It is time to stop the commercialism and get back to the basics of these sports. We have forgotten what the game really means. There is a reason why in Brooklyn they still remember the Brooklyn Dodgers. Lets not let the great game of baseball be ruined by people like Barry Bonds – they must be removed from the game, their history completely wiped out and start anew. This is the only way to retain or rescue the image of professional baseball.