As we stand on the precipice of another exciting baseball season, watching players and teams battle it out for playoff spots, there are other stories that endlessly swirl around the game. Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers, the 2011 National League MVP, has been suspended for the rest of the year for using steroids. He is the latest new face of disappointment in Major League Baseball, a game that has devolved into rumors of performance-enhancing drugs that have tarnished the legacies of nearly every major player in the current generation of the game.
Whenever a player shines and has a historic season, several years later it comes crashing back to Earth amidst accusations and revelations over their steroid use. It’s getting quite boring, and it’s ruining America’s pastime.
For Ryan Braun, the suspension is really not that big of a deal. His team, the Milwaukee Brewers, is well out of any hope for the playoffs, and Braun himself had been enduring a slump year, hitting below .300 for the first time since 2008. Perhaps a break from the game is exactly what he needs.
Meanwhile, the circus that is the life of Alex Rodriguez (AKA A-Roid) goes on. Electing to appeal a 200-game suspension for his most recent steroid transgressions, Rodriguez is able to return to the New York Yankees, a team that has a very real shot at making the playoffs. This flies directly in the face of justice and accountability. We now have a known steroid-user playing for a contending team. This is wrong.
Baseball seems to have no answer to this problem. It seems everyone is using. Should we ban everyone from playing the game? Over the last several years, the following players have been linked with steroids: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Barry Bonds, Andy Pettite, Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, and Jason Giambi. Where would baseball be without those players? How many World Series have been erroneously won by cheaters? What will happen if Alex Rodriguez leads the Yankees to a World Series title this year? Will we put an asterisk next to that title? Does an asterisk really mean anything?
To me, steroids are a big reason why baseball’s popularity is dwindling. When your hero is turned into a villain, how can you celebrate their achievements? Ryan Braun will never be the same player he was before, even if he plays well for another 10 years. A-Roid is nothing but a stain on the game, a far cry from the player we expected to break the all-time home run record, which is currently held by Barry Bonds, another tarnished name. Long forgotten are the days of people playing the game the “right” way. Now baseball is a collection of sleazy guys injecting drugs into their behinds.
I understand why it happens. A player like Alex Rodriguez begins his career with great aplomb. He is heralded as the next great player with an opportunity to set records, to compete with the likes of Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron. His future is bright. But as he begins to age and his numbers decline, that golden image of breaking records begins to dim. An injury sets back those goals even further. The only way to compete is by using steroids, and everyone wants to be great, and everyone has a breaking point. And so he uses steroids, plays well again, and eventually we all find out.
Instead of aging gracefully and leaving the game with pride, we get A-Roid: A monster. To me, steroids have ruined baseball. I think the only way to get rid of this plague is through lifetime suspensions, perhaps by the second offence. Players need to know that there is a line and that you cannot cross it. Slapping Ryan Braun on the wrist by removing him from an already-doomed season does nothing to change a game’s mindset. Or perhaps there should be fines equaling an entire year’s pay. Nothing like a $10 million fine to keep someone from using steroids. Either way, if baseball wants to ever come clean, they need to up the punishments, because clearly what they’re doing now has done little to remove steroids from baseball.
There are many great MLB players who follow the rules and make baseball great. I believe that these players will be the ones that will continue to make baseball what it is and will be able to help the MLB weather this ugly storm of PED usages. We have sports collectibles for these players that you still love. Our autographed memorabilia is guaranteed for life or your money back. Visit us at www.AAASportsMemorabilia.com to find your next collectible!