Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rant #33: Baseball and Steroids-Sosa What?

I am a huge baseball fan, a big fan of the Yankees, and this entire steroid mess we, as baseball fans, have been put through has been a horror, putting a major smudge on the game we love. Every time we hear a new name--McGwire, Clemens, ARod, Ramirez--we cringe even more.

Well, a new name has been added, even though this one was really not much of a surprise. Sammy Sosa, who testified before Congress that he did not use steroids (or barely did, since he said his English wasn't too good), has reportedly been named as one of the players on the infamous list for using Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEDs as they are called in our acronym-happy society. Sosa was always suspect, but no one had anything on him, reportedly until now.

As a baseball fan, I am all tapped out on this mess. When I hear another name mentioned, I shrug my shoulders and basically say, "So what?" Was Sosa any different from dozens of others who used and abused these drugs? More importantly, did he abuse this stuff before these substances were deemed illegal by Major League Baseball? People forget that Mark McGwire broke no rules when he supposedly used his PEDs--none were in place at that time for his drug of choice, andro.

I know this is cheating of the highest order--not only are you cheating on the field, but many of these substances are so dangerous that you could be cheating on your life--but when I hear another name added to the list, it doesn't faze me anymore.

The game is cleaner now, although guys like Manny Ramirez still try to buck the system.

Personally, although I am not an athlete by any stretch of the imagination, I can't understand why anyone would use these things anyway. They scare me just by what's in them, and why can't athletes get what they get out of these substances more naturally? I am sure that many players don't go this route, so why do some think they are smarter than the rest?

So, Sosa has been added to the list. Yes, his name, with his 600-plus home runs, is sullied for eternity.

But does it change my love for the game? No, it doesn't.

It is, and will always remain, America's National Pastime.

If you want to see real baseball being played by players who really care, take in a Little League game. Sure, these are just kids, but as a former coach, I can tell you that these kids really love what they are doing. Major leaguers should have it in their contracts that they must attend a few local Little League games each year--not only will it show them players who really, truly love this game, but it will bring them back to their roots, when they felt the same way about baseball.

I played Little League baseball until I was 15--it wasn't in a registered Little League, it was our community's league--and my love for the game has continued to this day. My son played until he was 12, and he loves the game too.

Sosa on steroids--so what? The game will survive his lapse in judgment.

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