Wednesday, March 03, 2004

posted by James - 5:35 PM

There's a poll up on ESPN right now about what to do if the link between Barry Bonds and steroids keeps strengthening.

Go ahead and practice for this upcoming November and vote for whichever you choose.

But Bonds hasn't done anything wrong, at least not anything illegal. Immoral maybe, anti-competitive maybe, but not illegal.

Steroids (any substances which articially aid in hormone production) aren't illegal according to baseball's rules. Until last year, there were no MLB regulations against any substances an ordinary citizen could get over the counter.

If Bonds is still taking steroids or Human Growth Hormone, then he needs to be punished and probably thrown out of baseball more on grounds of stupidity than anything else.

But what does this have to do with what he did in 2003, 2001 - when he set the homerun record, 1993 when he won his third MVP award in four years?

All of those accomplishments had something in common... they happened when steroids and HGH were legal and available for every baseball player to take them.

There was no unfair advantage. Everyone had access to them and it was legal for them to do so.

But these substances aren't a miracle pill or injection. They require work, lots and lots of work to get anything out of them. So if there was any unfair advantage from Bonds taking ANY substance from Flintstone's vitamins to creatine to androstenedione, it came from the amount of work he put in that other players don't want to do.

Steroids aren't magic. You don't pop a couple before bed time looking like Rocco Baldelli and wake up Jose Canseco. You still have to put in the work to get anything out of them except maybe more hair on your feet.

Steroids might help Bonds stay in the lineup more (although a main con of steroids is supposed to be that they make you brittle and more prone to injury), but they don't help him put the bat on the ball.

That came from (and comes from) a combination of natural talent and hard work.

Baseball gave Roger Maris an asterisk because he played an extra eight games. He had an unfair advantage over Babe Ruth, but baseball eventually rid them of the silliness of an asterisk long before Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Bonds blasted past Maris and Ruth.

So the talk about asterisks is pointless, unless baseball is going to go back throughout the history of baseball and ask everyone who has ever played a game of baseball whether they took a performance-enhancing substance.

This witch hunt - and this is exactly what this is - shouldn't stop at Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield, if it's going to start at all.

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