Latest ‘roid revelation still hurts

Thomas Gallick

As a baseball fan, I made a promise to myself after the Mitchell Report on the use of steroids in the sport was released in December 2007. No longer would any player being on the juice shock me. No longer would I be so na’ve as to think the exponential and concurrent growth of Barry Bonds’ head size and home run totals, Roger Clemens’ mastery of batters well into his forties or Eric Gagne’s transformation from a struggling starting pitcher into the greatest closer in the game was anything except chemical-induced oddities. If even players who hit for average instead of power like Hal Morris and Fernando Viña could be named in that dreadful report, any major leaguer from my childhood could be on the junk. So I decided all of the beloved professional baseball memories from my past were now suspect.

And yet, when the none-too-surprising revelation that Boston Red Sox’s designated hitter David “Big Papi” Ortiz tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 leaked out, I was still saddened. Ortiz was the player everyone wanted to be when I was in high school. His hitting prowess and knack for coming through in the clutch helped dissolve an 86-year curse when the Red Sox beat out the St. Louis Cardinals (and more importantly the New York Yankees) for the 2004 World Series.

I remember being excited to meet with my friends the next day at lunch, after the Sox began their epic comeback over the Yankees in the ALCS, to discuss their chances and Ortiz’s heroics from the previous game. Boston, though carrying a payroll that should have disqualified them as the likable underdogs, was winning the fight against the evil empire that everyone seemed to relate to. Turns out I was just discussing with my friends how one team of cheaters cheated more successfully than another team of cheaters. It shouldn’t have been that surprising. After all, Ortiz had never hit more than 20 home runs in a season before 2003. Then he put up 31, 41, 47, 54, etc.

But I was blinded by “Papi’s” clutch hits and lovable demeanor and blinded by my belief he was one of the guys doing things the right way as evidenced by his prior statements that Major League Baseball should “ban (performance-enhancing drug users) for a whole year.”

Baseball and its players hurt me again, but like many in bad relationships, I and a majority of other fans will probably still come running back for more.

If the biggest names in baseball being revealed as frauds cannot keep us away, what revelation can?

The mighty Casey only struck out because he was coming off of cattle steroids and Clomid? Babe Ruth was a baseball-playing super-robot sent from the future to single-handedly end the “dead-ball era?”

OK, to be fair, that one might actually make me more interested in baseball.

The point is, baseball players are going to keep using steroids because they know performance-enhancing drugs can lead to bigger numbers and bigger contracts. And fans will keep coming back because we love the game and need it, no matter how many of our “heroes” have taken the needle, cheating us and those playing the game the right way.

Thomas Gallick is a senior newspaper journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]