Ban Barry Bonds from record books

Matthew Carroll's view

It’s finally here. That’s right, Major League Baseball spring training. The time for players to polish up on their base-running skills, fight for starting positions and have Jose Canseco inject them with performance-enhancing drugs in a bathroom stall.

Canseco’s just-released book — which claims firsthand knowledge of steroid use by Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez and others — shines an even brighter spotlight on the already enormous problem of steroid use among professional baseball players. The problem was recently addressed by Major League Baseball in the form of more drug testing and harsher penalties for violators. But is that enough?

The elimination of performance-enhancing drugs is necessary to preserve the integrity of the game. The new policy is a step in the right direction, but it is not the only step that needs to be taken. What about all of those players who got away with steroid use for their entire careers? Action must be taken against them as well.

Remember that Barry Bonds fellow? Shall we put an asterisk by his records? No. Remove them completely. Ban him from the game. Ban him from the Hall of Fame. Forget he existed. The accusations against Mark McGwire are true? Do the same. The only way to adequately address the problem is to completely rid the record books of steroid users. Anything less would be an endorsement of their actions.

Pete Rose, one of the greatest hitters in baseball history, will never have his accomplishments recognized. Why? He likes to gamble. I am not a gambler, but it is my understanding that going down to the racetrack does not make you any better at hitting a baseball.

Darryl Strawberry — druggy extraordinaire and occasional ballplayer — was once suspended for a whole year for his drug use. Will Barry Bonds be suspended for a year for his drug use? Unlikely. Once again, I do not do drugs, but I do not believe snorting coke off a toilet seat is going to make you any better at hitting a baseball; if anything, it will make you worse. So why is it that something like steroid use, which actually does make you better at hitting a baseball, warrants little more than a dainty smack on the wrist?

What kind of precedent do you set for future generations of ball players if you let these cheaters’ records stand? How can you expect substance-free players to compete with the home run totals and slugging percentages of chemically enhanced ones? Heck, erase 10 years from baseball history if you need to. But don’t stop there. Steroid use is illegal in the United States, so send them to prison for a few years. Nothing like a good, long stint in the pokey to cure what ails ya.

If Commissioner Bud Selig is really serious about ridding baseball of steroids, he will need to deal with the past just as much as he deals with the future. Excusing steroid abusers now will only serve to set a standard for future steroid users to point to and say, “Bonds and McGwire got away with it, so lay off.”

Will reform this drastic ever happen? Don’t count on it.

Realistically, though, Major League Baseball needs to make an example out of these cheaters; if that means some of the greatest hitters of the modern era will never be enshrined in Cooperstown, then so be it.

Matt Carroll is a sophomore magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].