Did Steriods Hurt or Help Baseball(Continued)
I did a story last year about this same issue, but I would like to dig a little deeper into the context of it. I fell in love with baseball at the age of seven, because of Sammy Sosa and his chase with Mark McGwire for Roger Maris’s infamous record of 61 home runs in one season.
Even though we now know that almost every home run king that came to fruition in the 1990′s were on steroids (besides Jim Thome and Ken Griffey Jr, and Frank Thomas). Records are now tainted, and coming up in a few months we will have one of the most controversial Hall of Fame ballot ever in the history of baseball, when Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens all become eligible to be inducted into Cooperstown.
Baseball has a serious problem on hand, because some highly regarded Hall of Famers like George Brett said “but I know from talking to guys in the 500-home run club, guys like Schmitty (Mike Schmidt) and some other guys like that, if those guys make it in then they’ll never go back. Meaning those guys will never go back and attend (the Hall of Fame inductions) if the cheaters get elected”. So if these guys get inducted will the Hall of Fame lose its meaning? Will becoming a Hall of Famer mean as much as it used to? Let me know what you think.
Going back to the root of this story, did steroids help or hurt baseball? After the 1994 strike that canceled the World Series that year, a lot of fans were turned away from baseball. All across the country TV ratings were down, and attendance was down throughout the whole league in 1995. Baseball was losing money throughout the 1990′s since the 1994 strike, until the “chase” began in 1998. In the summer of 1998, baseball saw an increase in attendance and TV ratings. 1998 was the first year since 1994 that MLB saw an actually increase in fan attendance. It did not just stop in 1998; it continued to climb throughout the new millennium.
The cliché “chicks dig the long ball” came from the steroid era. Also we saw records get stolen by players who cheated to obtain those specific records like single season home run king, and career home run king. The 500 home run club used to be a bench mark for players to reach in order to get inducted into Cooperstown. 15 players who have hit the 500 bench mark have been inducted into the Hall of Fame before 1999, since 1999; 10 players have hit the 500 home run milestone. Of the 10 players, only three of those players have reached the milestone without any steroids (Jim Thome and Ken Griffey Jr, Frank Thomas).
As a kid growing up in the steroid era I would love to see these guys be inducted in the Hall of Fame, but as a baseball fan I would hate to see those guys’ become Hall of Famers. In my eyes, they cheated to get ahead in the game, but during their playing days it was not illegal to use steroids, and with that I can see baseball inducting them, but putting them into a separate area of the Hall of Fame, which would be just for steroid users, because at the end of the day these guys, Bonds, Sosa, McGwire saved baseball, and for that should get some recognition. But here comes the real kicker, if you immortalize these guys for cheating, then you will need to inducted Pete Rose even though he gambled on the sport. You made Rose an example, and by letting these guys in then you will look like a hypocrite by shutting the door on Rose.
We will have to wait, and see what the baseball writers will do regarding this issue, but even if they do not get into the Hall of Fame in the first ballot, there is a good chance they will get in later on when newer voters come in who grew up during the steroid era (like me) who fell in love with the game because of these guys.