Sammy Sosa tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs. If you're surprised, you haven't been paying attention.
And each of those times, you heard the fans start saying that phrase again.
You know the one—the phrase that always comes up fairly early in the steroid conversation. The one you hear people say all the time: "If [insert favorite player here] tested positive for steroids, I'd give up baseball. I'd never go to a game again."
Fine. Then baseball apparently didn't mean much to you anyway, and the teams and your fellow fans probably didn't benefit all that much from your fan contributions in the first place.
I, for one, want to know who's on that list.
Two down, 102 to go.
I'm tired of the speculation, the uncertainty, the inability to enjoy a game or a great streak without someone asking questions. Baseball has a strict testing program in place now, but no one's sure who was on steroids and who therefore might still be.
So we have to listen to this garbage: "Bet you Albert Pujols is on steroids. No man can hit like that for that long."
"Well, if Pujols is, so was Mike Piazza. No catcher's ever come close to hitting like that."
"Think Randy Johnson might have been on steroids?"
"I'm not sure, but I think Ken Griffey, Jr. was until he got to Cincinnati. Look at the dive his career took."
"Who knows? They were both on the same team at the same time as A-Rod..."
It's offensive. Some of it is downright ridiculous—I've read steroid speculation on Zack Greinke and Raul Ibanez this year.
Yet every year, anytime someone does something great in this game—especially over a full season—fans will question the legitimacy of the accomplishment. And up to about 2003-2004, they probably should have.
However, MLB has since fully instituted the toughest drug policy in American sports. I'm not enough of a sap to think that there aren't a few players who have been given a break, or that MLB hasn't withheld a few names.
But the baseball brass let us know about fan favorites like Rafael Palmeiro, put a searing spotlight on Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, and suspended one of MLB's most polarizing players in ManRam for a third of a season.
Maybe it's just me, but it looks like they're serious about this.
I'm tired of hearing every standout player, past and present, implicated in steroid discussions. I don't want guesswork anymore. That list should be out in the open, so we know who relied on his natural abilities and who didn't.
Remember what happened to the players named in the Mitchell Report? Nothing.
There were a few surprises, and maybe three or four future Hall of Famers are now unlikely to be voted in.
But how many players do you remember who were named in that report? When the Mitchell Report was released, 84 Major Leaguers were outed.
And get this: People shrug now when you remind them that so-and-so was juicing.
Andy Pettitte, Jason Giambi, Eric Gagne, Troy Glaus, Juan Gonzalez, David Justice, Paul Lo Duca, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, Mo Vaughn and Matt Williams—the list goes on, and no one cares about most the guys named.
We as Americans don't care about the guys we know juiced; we only want to talk about the guys we believe juiced and leave that cloud hanging over their heads every time they come up in conversation.
It's not fair to baseball. It's not fair to the players. And it's not fair to the fans.
We should be able to watch a game without wondering who has the bigger collection of needles: the cleanup hitter or the closer.
We should be able to move on, to leave the dark years known as the steroid era behind us, and return to clean baseball, where 40 homers is a feat to be marveled at instead of grounds for suspicion and an extra "random" drug test this year.
Major League Baseball should tell us who tested positive six years ago, let us shout and holler at the list and then allow us to let the names fade into obscurity.
It'll be a few years of embarrassment for some of the players, and a few will probably be denied entrance into the Hall, because for whatever reason, this was cheating without the consequences.
Two down, 102 to go.
And then, maybe, everyone can finally just get back to the game and the way it should played: without suspicion clouding every play, every game, every All-Star season, and every World Series Championship.
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