This op-ed piece in the NY Times is a home run about who is actually to blame for the steroid scandal:
The obvious villains in this whole mess would seem to be those players who are believed to have taken steroids. Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds have become household names of disrepute, and some baseball fans are suggesting that any home run records they have should also carry an asterisk as simple as it is humiliating:
But the true villains are baseball’s owners, greedy and feckless throughout the game’s history, and in the case of this latest mess, guilty of cynically jettisoning the game’s subtlety and complexity to turn it into a slugfest circus – home-run madness passed off as baseball. Regardless of who knew what when, steroids helped to advance that master plan.
In comments made in the shadow of the Congressional hearings last March on steroid use in baseball, Mr. Selig insisted that owners did not look the other way during the past 10 years. “It’s easy to look back and rewrite history,” he said. “People can say that we knew, but I’d like to know on what basis. There certainly is no medical evidence. There was no testing.”
It’s a pathetic argument. There was no testing because, well, contrary to other pro sports, there was no testing. The National Football League began testing for steroids in 1987. The National Basketball Association started testing in 1998. But up until 2003, Major League Baseball had no testing.
But the see-no-evil defense just doesn’t wash. It doesn’t wash given the owners’ lack of vigilance when it has come to other substances that have harmed the game – alcohol, cocaine and amphetamines. It doesn’t wash when as far back as 1988, the name of Jose Canseco came up in connection with steroid use on national television before Game 1 of the World Series.
It doesn’t wash given that the longest-running manager in baseball, the St. Louis Cardinals’ Tony La Russa, has recently said that steroids were prevalent in the game in the 1990’s. It doesn’t wash given that any owner, even from the padded plush of his luxury box, could look onto the field and see an increasing number of players in the 1990’s so bloated they’d explode if pricked with a pin. Most telling, it doesn’t wash given the aberrational increase in home runs over the past decade.
Owners can attribute the lack of testing to the admittedly difficult players’ union. Or they can cling to ignorance, the de facto policy they adopted of “don’t ask, don’t tell, don’t test.” But far from being unsettled by possible steroid use, because they clearly weren’t, baseball’s kings may instead have privately celebrated performance-enhancing drugs, seeing the bulking up of players as an essential component of their effort to rekindle public enthusiasm for the game that they feared had been lost.
The players who used steroids may have broken laws regarding the use of steroids, but they DID NOT CHEAT. It simply was not against the rules of baseball to use steroids, and that is because the owners needed the long ball to sell tickets. I wish people would shut up about McGwire and Bonds. Bud Selig and his gang of misfits are to blame. They created the situation, they rewarded the behavior (with lucrative contracts), and they refused to set standards and test. They are to blame.