Carleton College's student newspaper since 1877

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Point-Counterpoint: ‘roid rage and America’s pastime

<ong>Steroid usage should not be a Hall of Fame disqualifier – By David Sacks

Mark McGwire, the man who captivated America in the summer of 1998 as he battled Sammy Sosa and took the homerun record from Roger Maris, finally came forward and admitted what many of us already knew: that he broke the record using steroids. Now, McGwire will move on and become the hitting coach for one of his former teams, the St. Louis Cardinals, while we continue to debate the merits of baseball players who we now know used steroids. Do they belong in the hall of fame? Should their records stand?

Obviously, taking steroids is wrong. It sets a terrible example for young athletes, telling them that the best way to become a great player is by cutting corners and hurting your body. However, I will argue that this admission should not be held against McGwire. When looking back on the “steroid era” of baseball, it has become clear that probably over half of the players in baseball used steroids.

McGwire was competing against players who took steroids and had to hit pitches against pitchers who were also using steroids. The competitive nature that allows all of these athletes to succeed and compete on such a high level will also push them to do anything they can to get an edge. McGwire and others saw players using these drugs, and he reasoned that since these players were getting better, by not using these drugs he was actually losing a step. This is what we now term the “steroid culture” of baseball.

We need to recognize that above all baseball is a business. All of these players have families to feed and need to provide for themselves for the rest of their lives. Once a player retires, he can have over 50 years left in his life where he will not have a good source of income and must account for this during his professional career. If taking steroids will help a player hit ten more homeruns or hit for a higher average, this will translate to millions of dollars for him and his family. It is hard for anybody to pass up on an opportunity to do something that will not hurt anybody and make that kind of money.

Furthermore, when McGwire and all of his counterparts took steroids, it was not illegal in baseball. These players were not breaking any rules, like they would be if they threw a game or gambled on baseball. How can we punish players who were not breaking any rules?

So where does the blame fall? It rests squarely on the commissioner of baseball, the Players Union and the team’s owners and managers. The Players Union did nothing to protect their players who did not use steroids, thus forcing the players to do something they did not want to do in order to stay in the game. Clean players should have spoken out and demanded that there be steroids testing and for a rule to be put in place that outlawed these drugs.

I do not believe that team owners and the commissioner did not know players were using steroids. Players would show up for spring training twenty pounds heavier than they were the season before, and homeruns were being hit at a staggering pace. They must have known something was happening, but fans were showing up and loved seeing the long-ball. TV ratings were high and life was good. Why stop the party and revert back to a more boring version of baseball for the average fan? They did not have the guts to speak out nor the foresight to see the damage steroids would do to the game once these revelations came out.

Given all of this information, a “steroids wing” should be built in the baseball hall of fame, where the careers of players who used steroids can be celebrated. Some of the greatest players of our generation – Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens to name a few – used steroids, but would be hall of fame players even without steroids. It is naïve to think that we have caught all of the players who used steroids and can single them out of the hall of fame. I’m sure players will get into the hall of fame who have used steroids, but just had the good fortune of never being caught. That’s why we should stop arguing about who did what and whether steroids made a player into who he became, and let all of the worthy players in the Hall.

Steroids should prohibit athletes from Hall of Fame consideration – By Justin Rotman

Mark McGwire’s admission last week that he took steroids during his playing days surprised no one and did little to clear his name as one of the main culprits in baseball’s “Steroid Era.” The former baseball star had been suspected for years by fans and the media everywhere of using performance-enhancing drugs.

While all the admission did was officially put to bed any theories from those still wet behind the ears that McGwire was clean, it automatically turned the next question to the same one asked of every tainted star: Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?

If you look at it in terms of pure numbers, McGwire is a first-ballot inductee. While 500 home runs is typically considered the threshold for automatic induction into Cooperstown, Big Mac’s 583 were good enough for 6th all-time when he retired. He was a 12-time all-star who still holds the record for career at-bats per home run (10.61). In 1999, he was named to Major League Baseball’s All-Century Team. Those numbers should make him a lock…if he were clean.

With the impressive numbers and tainted past, does Big Mac belong in the Hall? So far, because of his juicing, the baseball writers (who are the only people who get to vote on candidates) have given him an emphatic “no.” Since he appeared on the ballot in 2007, he has failed to garner even 24% of the vote, far below the 75% needed for induction. Even with his steroid use, though, is it acceptable to leave a man with nearly 600 home runs out of the Hall of Fame? Absolutely.

Baseball is our national pastime. No other sport can match its history and legacy in America. It has become a game of statistics far more than any other sport has. The game has such magical numbers as 300 wins for a pitcher, 500 home runs, and 3,000 hits as surefire (assuming they’re clean) benchmarks for a call to Cooperstown. Statistics like 755 (Hank Aaron’s career home run record), 61 (Roger Maris’s single-season home run record), and 56 (Joe Dimaggio’s record for consecutive games with a hit) are as iconic as they once were untouchable. The Steroid Era has tainted the game and it will never be the same. Both Aaron’s and Maris’s records have been broken by steroid users. Countless other marks have been smashed by players who chose to take short cuts and use performance-enhancing drugs. These players have cheated the game and cheated its history, and much of what they’ve done is inerasable.

One common defense for steroid users is that they played in the Steroid Era, and they only used because everyone else was, too. They felt they had to inject themselves, or else they risked falling behind. Indeed, as it stands, 5 of the top 11 home run hitters of all-time are dopers that all played in the Steroid Era, but that does not excuse them from their guilt. They cut corners when thousands of players before them chose to work hard and accept the results that their God-given talent and work ethic alone produced. When Barry Bonds, baseball’s all-time home run king and a steroid user, was climbing up the career home-run ladder, fans in the left field bleachers in Philadelphia held up a huge banner that spanned nearly half of the front row that read: “ [Babe] Ruth did it on hot dogs & Beer; Aaron did it with class; How did YOU do it”? In his tearful admission, McGwire said that he wished he had never touched steroids, and wished “[he] had never played in the steroid era.” Please, Mac. Acting like a victim of this whole scam does not help his cause. He was one of the main perpetrators, and he deserves to be treated like it.

These players tainted not only history, but also cheated the game and their peers today. While the clean players were working their hardest to stay in the league and succeed, dopers turned to drugs. Their massive success gained them incredible wealth and fame, while it cost those they were playing against money and possibly their jobs. Clean players undoubtedly lost their jobs to juicers when they were outperformed.

The McGwires, Bonds, and Sosas of the baseball world cheated the history and integrity of the game, and cheated players past, present, and future. They took records, they took money, they took fame, and they took a shot at the game. Don’t let them take the Hall.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Carletonian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *