Inject a Little Common Sense

August 25, 2010 |

Almost immediately after Jose Bautista hit his league-leading 40th home run, the media and fans alike brought up the only reasonable explanation: steroids. I almost feel as if I am complicit in this being an issue at all, but since it already is, I feel the need to opine about the steroid situation. As baseball fans probably know, Sammy Sosa reportedly tested positive for steroids in 2003, a fact that only would surprise you if the only baseball you saw was footage from Pride of the Yankees. Now, it appears, due to this supposedly despicable act of cheating, that Sosa’s chance of the Hall of Fame and legacy as a whole is irrevocably tarnished. Here’s what I want to point out: look at the names that have turned up positive for steroids, or other performance-enhancing drugs, or the names that were released in the Mitchell Report. You will discover that the heavy majority of players are guys like Larry Bigbie, Adam Piatt, and F.P. Santangelo, who were at best marginal players. So why should a guy like Sosa be discarded? In an era of more home runs, he still hit more than nearly everyone else. Many players who were inferior players to him were also using PED’s, so it’s not as if the “little guy” (both literally and figuratively, I suppose) was truly hurt by this. Why can’t we accept Sosa as a great baseball player who, because of the era, hit more home runs than he would have in, say, the 1960’s? Is this any different from judging Cy Young differently from Roy Halladay because of the different eras in which they pitched? Steroids were illegal in name only, like jaywalking and speeding if they were never enforced. I’m not saying everyone used steroids, or that the steroid policy was beneficial to the sport. However, we must be able to use this as a context for more power, just like the bandbox stadiums put into place in the 1990’s. This is no different than accounting for the “dead ball era”, when pitchers routinely threw spitballs and scuffed the baseball to the point where it was nearly unhittable. Take Sosa’s numbers in context; just make sure you take them in the first place, because the man was still one of the best baseball players of his era.