Jun
11

The beginning of the end of the Steroid Era

By

Last night, as Alex Rodriguez stood in against Jonathan Papelbon in the top of the 9th, the Fenway Faithful began to chant. “You did steroids,” they said. “You did steroids.”

The sounds filled the stadium, and while Michael Kay didn’t quote the crowd, he called a “derogatory” crowd. It was by far the most vicious taunting Alex Rodriguez has received all year, but A-Rod has heard louder boos from the Bronx crowds than that. It was almost disappointing in its unoriginality and tameness.

Meanwhile, in related news, USA Today’s Tom Weir reported on Selena Roberts’ low sales totals. Her A-Rod biography has sold just 16,000 copies of its 150,000 press run. It is a bomb (and it’s not very good either).

Across the country, Manny Ramirez, serving a 50-game suspension for a failed drug test, visited the Dodgers’ clubhouse, and his teammates are eagerly anticipating his return. Dodgers fans appear to be as well, and with these tepid responses and outright forgiveness, I have to wonder if we’re at the end of the era when fans actually cared about players’ purported drug use.

For the better part of the decade, steroid use and its impact on baseball have dominated the headlines. The BALCO raid happened in 2003, and Jason Giambi‘s apology came in 2005. The Mitchell Report misfired in 2007, and since then, a steroid-induced fatigue has settled over the game.

Right now, the only people left outraged are baseball columnists and Hall of Fame voters. The fans have embraced their players, and as the Boston crowd showed last night, they taunt their team’s opponents out of some sense of duty with no real emotion behind it.

So if the fans have moved on and if the players and owners are satisfied with the continued efforts to keep the game as clean as possible, it’s probably time for everyone else to move on. Baseball’s leaders need to focus on the future and forget about the past. Hall of Fame voters need to recognize their complicity in feeding a drug-fueled home run-happy beast.

Maybe I’m a little premature in calling the era of outrage over. But if it’s not there yet, it’s on its dying breath. The game is better off for it. We don’t need to take glee in catching players who used drugs when, well, everyone else is doing, and we can instead look ahead to another day, another game and another pennant race free from overwrought accusations and poorly written books.

Categories : STEROIDS!

98 Comments»

  1. jsbrendog says:

    agreed. i could care less at this point. its been so yawn for so long now. but, on one hand, i would really like to see th e other 103 players on that list just cause.

    • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

      +1

      i never cared, but now i want to see the list, just cause our player got outed.

      manny i bet. papi?

      i wanna know if Mo was on that list. Randy Johnson. all the big hitters. just publish it, and we’ll move another step forward to being done.

      • I think the opposite. Every time a name comes out, people want to dust their hands with it and say, “Oh, well, NOW we’ve finally exposed all the names.”

        Well, no, you haven’t. Exposing the other 103 names crystallizes nothing and finalizes nothing. All it does is lull you into a new false sense of security that you’ve solved a mystery that you haven’t really solved.

        I don’t think exposing the other players is really going to “move another step forward to being done.”

        I think the way to move another step forward is not to keep naming names, but rather to make a blanket statement that the era happened, it affected all of baseball, every team, our records/accomplishments should remain legitimate because the pervasiveness of the steroid culture meant that no team had an advantage of any measurable significance, and that we’re committing to never again turn a blind eye to a player health issue because it serves the short-term interests of the game’s popularity.

        • radnom says:

          In a perfect world this would be just fine, but as we’ve seen, the list is out there and it is not 100% secure.

          It is naive to think that there is a chance those names will be hidden forever. Maybe a year from now, maybe ten. When they are revealed, it pulls this story up to the font once again.

          That is why exposing the list will “move another step closer to being done”. It is going to happen anyway, we can’t move on from it until it does.

          • Axl says:

            But who’s to say the list is even legitimate or the end of it?? How many people were using masking agents during the test that didn’t show up positive? How many players were using something that was in a GNC product that wasn’t really meant to do the same thing as PEDs. How many used to inhale steroids for breakfast back in their youth but realized as they got older and worse anyway, that it wasn’t really necessary anymore and passed?

            Too many question marks. And like Tommie said, nothing gets accomplished by leaking them. Just more Mitchell Report junk with a new found twist.

            • radnom says:


              But who’s to say the list is even legitimate or the end of it??

              Well the list is certainly legitimate, and certainly not the end of it.

              You completely missed my point.

              I don’t know where the end of it is. I don’t know what new revelations will come out, or who used who will get away with it. I do know that this is will eventually be leaked, and that when it is people will talk about it. Because of that fact, I find it premature for people to call for forgetting about the list and “moving on” when it will only be dragged back in the near future.

              • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

                radnom/axl:

                the list is a black fungal rot on the MLBpa (er, union, w/e) for not having it destroyed the way it should have been years ago.

                if it wouldnt cause uproarious backlash, i would sue the snot of out them if i were Aroid…they failed, and he got screwed. there has to be some legal remedy for ‘failure to repair.’

                the list will not be dropped until its public, if nothing else, because of Aholes like me who want to know how many redsox were on it.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

          you’re right–
          Well, no, you haven’t. Exposing the other 103 names crystallizes nothing and finalizes nothing. All it does is lull you into a new false sense of security that you’ve solved a mystery that you haven’t really solved.

          but i think you didnt really believe me when i said–

          i never cared, but now i want to see the list, just cause our player got outed.

          which is partly vengeance and partly morbid curiosity, which is a surprisingly difficult word to spell…feels like there should be another ‘u’ in it.

          if we dont rip off the bandaid, there will still be people who say ‘who else was on the list teh juice?’

          i think many fans have moved on, and like…kabak? said, its only HOReallygoodplayerswhoweremainlyfanfavorites and journalists sportswriters (RABbers excepted of course) that give a carp.

          • JP says:

            I don’t think publishing the list has to be validated as solving anything.

            Of course TSJC is correct that it’s not necessarily a complete list, and it may be inaccurate in some cases due to testing errors, I suppose.

            But when you soil someone’s reputation over something that was supposed to be confidential, I think it’s fair to make the entire list public.

    • Mike HC says:

      I think any fan of baseball with any type of curiosity would want to see that list. That would be damn entertaining to read all those 103 names. Imagine the blog discussions then.

    • Let's Talk About TEX Baby says:

      I thought Kay should have pointed out the hypocrisy of Red Sox fans chanting “you took steroids” are A-Rod after enjoying Manny and Ortiz for all those years.

  2. dkidd says:

    i don’t know if there’s a connection, but it feels like teams are bunting more this year. not just girardi, across the league

  3. I think steroids did wonders for the game.

    “Chicks dig the long ball”

  4. Bo says:

    When there are millions of dollars at stake in regards to contracts, steroids will never be gone. When all timers are taking them that means that everyone is taking something to improve themselves.

  5. JP says:

    Yup. Well said…I don’t care, either.

    I was never what I’d call “outraged.” I was disgusted that so many records were falling with these unnatural, freakish seasons, mainly from one guy. But the idea that they were using drugs to enhance performance? Come on. Anyone read Ball Four? Athletes have always done this. The stuff isn’t even illegal in some countries where these players come from. I’m not saying it’s good, or even that it’s moral, but it’s just part of sports. Always has been, always will be. People do anything to get an edge, to survive.

    Willie Mays and those of his generation, many of them anyway, used amphetamines. You can say “well, that’s not the same as a drug that helps you build unnatural amounts of muscle.” Maybe so, but that’s more a reflection of the state of knowledge at the time; the intent was likely the same.

    And of course the players take the biggest hit, while their employers get a free pass.

    The writers? Sheesh. They ejaculate all over these players – whom they worship and love – when they are breaking records and fulfilling the writers’ childhood fantasies. And then they turn on them like a pack of wolves when they hear about steroids. I’m not an Alex Rodriguez cheerleader, and I bear no grudge against any individual sportswriter. But given the choice between the two classes, I think I’d rather be in a foxhole with a baseball player than a baseball writer. I’m sure most writers, like most athletes, are good, honest people, but there doesn’t seem to be a shortage of scoundrels in their midst.

    • ChrisS says:

      I more or less agree. The big problem I had was with absolutely ridiculous seasons Bonds was putting up, the only thing I heard from ESPN was how amazing Barry was and we were witnessing the greatest hitter ever with absolutely zero acknowledgment that it was pretty fishy that a truly great hitter was now blown up like a professional wrestler and was suddenly golfing any pitch near the strike zone into orbit.

      I truly disliked the hagiography that he was getting. A-Rod had some great seasons, but they weren’t HOLY SH!T great (I mean a .609 OBP?!). Bonds was beyond belief and combined with the very visible changes, and his age, it felt odd that there wasn’t any kind of raised eyebrows. Just sport writers and analysts tripping over themselves to bask in his greatness.

  6. Mike R. - Retire 21 says:

    ESPN was nice enough to clarify the chant.

    “The crowd here is chanting ‘You did steroids’ in case you can’t make it out at home.”

    That is an honest to God quote.

  7. Texeiramvp (JobaCyYoung)/Letsgoyankees-It depends on the blog says:

    As Peter Abraham said, last night was oblivious hypocrites night at Fenway Park.

  8. Albearrrr says:

    MLBPA would never have it, but the best way to counter steroid cheats is to void their contracts. Wouldn’t the Yanks just love a time machine to revisit the A-Rod negotiations.

    • JP says:

      They actually had their chance when he opted out.

      (Still wondering about that one. Can anyone think of why you’d give a 10 year contract to a 32 year old player? Isn’t that what he got, a 10 year extension? They want all those records in pinstripes for franchise value, I guess.)

      • Can anyone think of why you’d give a 10 year contract to a 32 year old player?

        He’s good? That’s all I got.

        • JP says:

          Ten years, though, TSJC. Come on. Mega millions, and oh yeah he has a bad hip. Let me ask you, those last 3-4 years, when he stinks at third and has no range left, what then? DH I guess…

          Seriously. Yes he’s good, possibly the best ever. But that kind of money, paying him into his 40s? That doesn’t strike you as a bit too much?

      • OmgZombies! says:

        If he wasnt going for the all time HR record then I doubt he would have gotten a 10 year contract. Not only did the Yankees give him a unnecessary extension but they lost a big chunk of money that Texas gave. I hated Arod for that but now its whatever hes apart of the team.

  9. Mike HC says:

    Unfortunately, I think people are accepting that it is just part of the game. I sure have. At one point you have to make a decision, do I stop caring about whether or not guys are juicing up, or do I stop watching the sport all together. Players in sports all across the board will find ways to cheat, but I refuse to get completely hung up in. Frankly, I just assume that if you look supernatural, you probably are. Even some of the top guys, and many lesser players as well, in the NBA have turned into WWF wrestlers, but I still love to watch them play.

  10. Link says:

    This is probably obvious, but I think the venom towards A-Rod was because he was supposed to be the anointed savior of all things pure…he was the shining star that a player could be clean and still be amazing…he was going to reclaim the home run record from that lying cheating freak Barry Bonds. So when it turned out he was dirty too, he got hammered. That, and the fact he makes $28 mil a year.

    • In other words, people hate ARod because they wanted the process of history to unfold in a chain of events that gives them an easy way out from the moral dilemma they’ve manufactured for themselves, and the process of history failed in that regard because it’s a process and doesn’t give a shit about their stupid manufactured moral dilemmas, and they’re focusing their ensuing ennui at the soul-crushing inexorable march of human history through time into the singular person of ARod because it’s the easy thing to do, and as a people we’re constantly about doing the easy thing rather than owning up to our own personal moral shortcomings and wrestling with the hard issues of life evenhandedly and dispassionately.

      Ignorance is bliss, ARod didn’t help us return to our old blissful ignorance, and that makes him the asshole and not us. Got it.

      • radnom says:

        You would have a point if Arod didn’t spend a few years reveling in the fact that he would break the record the right way and accepting a huge incentive bonus if he eventually gets there.

        I’m an Arod fan, but as someone who cares about baseball records Arod was extremely dissapointing. No, its not his fault more than anyone else that he is one of the cheaters, but yeah, it does sting a little extra because he had everyone so convinced that he wasn’t.

        • Did ARod say, apropos of nothing, that it was going to be wicked awesome to break records and make the HR totals “clean” again?

          … Or, did we in the media and general public constantly tell him that it was going to be wicked awesome for him to break records and make the HR totals “clean” again, and he just said “Yeah, I guess that would be awesome” because he was painted into a corner and had no realistic alternative? There’s a difference.

          It’s not like he went around wearing a sandwich board that said “Laud me with praises and vest your sweet innocent childlike love in me, because I’m going to be the next clean champion, huzzah!”

          We did all this. The only thing ARod did was inject himself with steroids. Independent of his actions, WE made him this huge angelic savior of the game, then we chopped him down and blamed the whole thing on him in the first place.

          • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

            i ABSOLUTELY reject being lumped into that category of superficial Aholes who are ruining today’s fandom.

            I hate Arod because he’s better looking, a better physical specimen, waaay more famous, and makes not just one but TWO shitloads of money more than i do. And he banged Madonna (i dont want to actually ‘do’ her–especially not today. i want to have ‘done’ the late 80′d madonna, and be able to ‘say’ i ‘did’ her). To top it all off, he plays for the )(*#$_)#(@$* YANKEES and quite frankly, that was my dream he’s living, and he used steroids, and that gives me an excuse to hate the living _)(#@$ out of him when he doesnt hit a grandslam with two outs and one on in the 9th.

            THAT is the group of Aholes with whom I am associated…not those other ones. Fuck them.

      • JP says:

        Not saying the beef is logical, but I think he’s right…many people are upset because they latched onto this idea that…well, what he said.

        Don’t get me wrong; as I said, I was never outraged. Disgusted a little, but I still think it’s debatable that it was even cheating. Cheating who? They were all using it, the pitchers, too. Cheating the record books? That’s a tough one.

        Setting a bad example for kids. No doubt.

  11. radnom says:

    Ah, another “the fans don’t care about X, only the media cares about X” article. PED’s seems to be the popular one around here, but you see people railing the same call on Brett Farve and countless other sports stories every year.

    For some reason people get all righteous and like to claim they do not care about these types of stories. A host on ESPN radio the other day, in response to yet another bunch of emails from people complaining that they were sick of hearing about Brett Farve let the audiance in on something he was told by a top ESPN executive: that they will receive 99% negative email feedback about Farve and Michael Vick stories but that every time those two names appear on the air viewership doubles.

    The sports media is not like blogs. Coverage is not dictated by the whims of journalists. The topics covered are directly proportional to fan interest. Whether you want to argue that this interest is shaped by the media is irrelevant. If it is being covered by the media, the fans care about it. People care about PEDs.

    • They care about PED use in the same why they care about Samanthan Ronson/Lindsay Lohan stories of what happens to Jon and Kate. They don’t actually care about how they impact the supposed integrity of the game.

      • radnom says:

        This is a good point that I had not considered.

        I think it is a weak comparison in two respects, however.

        1. People who get off on Jon and Kate gossip generally don’t care about Jon and Kate as people. The entirety of the entertainment derives from the inappropriaty of it. The people interested in steroids are baseball fans. While I agree that the PED issue has extended itself outside the realm of people who normally follow the sport (similar to the Michael Vick stories), I still think you can say that the majority of people following it are baseball fans. The vast majority of people reading up on Lindsay Lohan are not also listening to her albums.

        2. I forgot my second point while typing out the first. It probably related to the assertion that fans do not care how steroids impact the integrity of the game.

  12. ChrisS says:

    That, and the fact he makes $28 mil a year.

    Which is weird. I don’t know why people fault sports players from taking in a large percentage of the sport they drive. And this is a single datum, but I have a friend who is adamant that wealthy people earn everything that they have, but hates A-Rod and baseball players for getting paid so much.

    Do some people blame the players for exorbitant ticket prices and concessions?

    • Actually, last year I read that baseball players make a lesser percentage of overall league revenues than other sports.

    • jeremy12 says:

      Some people honestly believe that “they pay the players salaries” by purchasing tickets and merchandise, much the same way that we as taxpayers pay a cops’ salary or a senator’s. It’s ridiculous.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

        so where exactly does that money come from if not from consumers, or in govt case, taxes?

    • Mattingly's Love Child says:

      Baseball players do get a lesser percentage of the profits than football or basketball players (I believe it is 45% for baseball, 57% for the NBA, and 59.5% for the NFL). In typical baseball union leadership fashion, they have failed to make that info public.

      The owners have done such a great job crying poor and convincing the MSM that the players’ salaries are what drive the increases in ticket prices/concession, and the need for billion dollar stadiums that are publicly funded.

      Baseball is one of the only industries where the general public more often sides with management than with the labor….thanks to uneducated sportswriters who pawn themselves off as experts on all things baseball.

      • Mattingly's Love Child says:

        BTW the owners are smart businessmen. How else would they have hundreds of millions of dollars to purchase teams?! They know sportswriters are generally uneducated when it comes to finance. So they can very easily manipulate them into siding with management.

        • I Remember Celerino Sanchez says:

          Well, a lot of owners inherit their money. Dolan of MSG, the Steinbrenner brothers, the Wilpon son is being groomed in Queens, the Maras and Tisch boys for the Giants, Johnson of the Jets (inherited his money but not the Jets), etc.

          But yes, many others are successful businessmen (Wang with the Isles springs to mind).

    • I don’t know why people fault sports players from taking in a large percentage of the sport they drive… I have a friend who is adamant that wealthy people earn everything that they have, but hates A-Rod and baseball players for getting paid so much.

      http://aproposofnothing.files......3/envy.jpg

      • ChrisS says:

        No, if he was strictly envious he would be hating on both sub-sets of the sub-population of wealthy people. But this is a disconnect between a player earning his wealth based on his natural ability and will to improve and a person (oh let’s say a hedge fund manager) earning his wealth based on their natural ability and will to improve.

        What’s the difference (besides my friend being insane, which is completely possible).

        • Here’s the difference: Playing baseball and being famous and handsome and banging hot women frequently is fun. Sitting in an office, arbitraging mutual funds while you look at your receding hairline and your stain on your necktie in the mirror is not fun.

          He’s jealous both of ARod’s wealth AND his fortune and good looks. Non-sports-star rich people are just rich, not rich and famous and beautiful and lionized for playing a kid’s game.

    • JP says:

      I got no problem with the salaries. The money’s there, is it supposed to go into the owners’ pockets.

      (Alternatively, I guess, if you like the idea of Hope and Change, maybe you think we should be getting refund checks from John Henry and Hank Steinbrenner.)

      The reality is that, even in baseball, it’s a minority elite that is making life changing money. Think of all the guys that toil in the minors for a career. A million a year, or even the league minimum seems like alot. Many of these guys have no college degree, no job training, and they make a big salary for 5-6 years (relative to, say, a UPS driver, or even your family doc), but when they’re finished, then what? Many of them, as young kids, blow most of it and have little to show when they are out of the game.

      I wouldn’t wish the life a professional athlete on anyone. Unless you are at the elite level, it’s a tough life, and the money looks better than it really is.

  13. Axl says:

    Who wins in a fight?

    Statler or Waldorf…

  14. Axl says:

    What’s more of a competitive advantage?

    Being an offensive position player and having your home field be an absolute bandbox at all fields…OR using steroids to stay healthy enough to compete everyday and earn your pay check…

  15. A.D. says:

    I find it odd of all the chants, Sox fans go with one that is simply a statement of fact that A-Rod admitted to, one would think chanting “cheater” or “fraud” or something like that would be more likely to get under his skin.

  16. A.D. says:

    Kay said last night how the Sox fans haven’t gotten on Ortiz at all, despite Boston being a “tough” town for athletes.

    I know that the Sox have a bit of a hold on the media up there, but I can’t really think of a time when fans have ever been hard on a Boston athlete, maybe with the Celtics, when it was Pierce & Walker, and basically Walker would huck up redic 3′s. But otherwise when has Boston been tough on the Sox…the 70′s?

    • Axl says:

      They used to throw hamburger meat at Ted Williams on the field…they hated each other. Real bad relationship. Hit a home run in his last at bat and didn’t tip his cap to the crowd. That’s how much he hated the Boston fans.

      • JohnnyC says:

        Williams allegedly spit into the stands once at Fenway when they taunted him going after a foul ball. Boston fans usually withold their venom until AFTER the player leaves. Knew a Boston fan whose favorite player was Nomar…had posters in his bedroom, etc. The day they traded him, Nomar was dead to him. I’m sure Ortiz will get the same treatment once he’s unceremoniously told to hit the road.

    • PhukTheHeck says:

      Actually this is a huge fallacy that they never got on their players. The fans at the game may not, but that doesn’t mean they never do.

      Unfortunately I used to live just south of boston for 2.5 years. One of my coworkers and I used to laugh at how quick they’d turn on their players. It’ll be hard to find now, but try to find some articles from the globe before he hit his 2nd HR. People in the comments section were screaming about dropping him in the order, that he’s done, they should find ways to make up an excuse to DL him or just outright release him.

      The same thing happened a few years back. Remember when the pats released Lawyer Milloy about a week before the season started. The bills picked him up then beat the pats 31-0? The message boards on the globe were tearing Belichick a new one. Saying the reason for the success is Brady and not him.

      The fans in Boston are just the same as everywhere else. Whether the media portrays them as such is a different story.

      • Axl says:

        I grew up in Massachusetts. They aren’t nearly as bad with their players. While they’ll say something about them at a party or whatever all hush hush…at the field or whatever they’ll never boo them. WEEI and NESN will also never have one negative thing to say about the Red Sox and find every excuse in the book before they have no other way to go.

        Where as we have several New York radio personalities who talk trash about the Yankees as well as every other media outlet on the planet.

    • Axl says:

      The difference is…the Yankees are in New York where celebrities are…and the tabloids and papparazzi throw the Yankee players into the mix because the team is so popular. So what do the newspapers do? They try to keep up…and they start joining in on the anti-Yankee stuff from time to time because they realize that the bad stuff is selling more than the good stuff.

      Meanwhile, in La La Land. Their are zero celebrities in Boston…and the reporters and newspapers compete with almost nobody (locally)…so the reporters are everybody’s best friend. They sugar coat everything and protect their players.

      And before, it wasn’t noticed because the Boston teams were so bad. Now that the Boston teams are doing great…it’s very noticeable. And it doesn’t help that we haven’t won in a while either…or that we spend a lot of money while doing so.

  17. Joba-to-the-pen says:

    THere will always be outrage.The only reason people(dumb people) root for A-Rod or Manny is because they love there team and are stuck with these guys there’s nothing else you can do with them.

    The only reason Selena Roberts book is bad is because she told you her big surpise before the book came out and didn’t name name’s like Jose Canseco did.Once those 103 names come out the outrage will come out.Like in 2003 BALCO,2005 Senate Hearing,2007 Mitchell Report and 2009 A-Rod and Manny.

  18. JP says:

    Anyone think Suzyn Waldman will be on the list?

  19. Yanks99 says:

    I was actually looking for the book in Barnes and Noble the other day and I couldn’t even find it. I mean, I didn’t look THAT hard, but still you couldn’t miss Torre’s book. It was everywhere.

  20. bobmac says:

    Well,as long as the Boston fans are acting,well,like Boston fans.I think David Ortiz should be serenaded while we all enjoy Papi Shakes.

  21. Nick says:

    I could care less who is on them or what not.

    Just have a policy in place and if you get caught you do the time. Like they have now. If they had this in place in 1995 this wouldnt be an issue. It’s not an issue in the NFL and everyone and their mother knows that every player is on something.

  22. JP says:

    That adds alot to the discussion.

  23. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    That’s a shot at Roberts.

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