The other day I was watching Randy Johnson's 19-strikeout game on MLB Network and the timing of the game was interesting. During the commercial breaks Bob Costas and others on the network were analyzing the Alex Rodriguez situation. While Arod didn't play in this game, he was a key component to that 1997 Mariners' parade of sluggers. As the game's greatest player is being ridiculed and lambasted on every radio and TV show as well as every type of periodical, the idea that we don't know whether Ken Griffey Jr. took steroids started to creep into our minds.
This one really hit me hard because I was a certified Griffey die-hard in the '90s (who wasn't?). There is every indication that he and other superstars were clean but we can't really be sure because of the information flow that is surging in from players. After learning Arod was on steroids we shouldn't be shocked to hear which of the other 103 players that will be named.
I don't think we can form a complete opinion on the steroids issue as a whole because we simply don't have the facts needed. Do we know definitively how long they have been around? Which players were tipped off before taking a urine sample test? What are the specific effects for each kind of drug taken?
For example, Barry Bonds was a great, Hall of Fame player prior to steroid use. Brady Anderson was a 10-15 home run lead-off hitter before his 1996 50-homer season that we all know was steroid induced. How can we quantify which steroids turned good players into great ones and decent players into all-stars?
I've had over a week since the Sports Illustrated article came out to read up on the information Arod has given us as well as look over some of the names from the Mitchell report from over a year ago. There are no consistencies when comparing the names and the eras in which players used these drugs. We know Jose Canseco was taking steroids in his MVP season of 1988, that Lenny Dykstra was taking them with the Phillies in the early 1990s, Jason Grimsley was juicing in the late '90s and a scrub like Manny Alexander somehow still batted .200 while pumping his butt full of steroids in the early 2000s. MANNY FREAKIN ALEXANDER. You know, the guy whose acne was one of the best jokes to make back in 2000.
Those names give us the full spectrum of players who have taken steroids. From an MVP to a player who was the butt of jokes in Boston for a summer. The more information that comes out, the more we should start to realize it's going to be a while before we really can define the "steroid era" and exactly who was involved.
I suppose the current question is "what now?". While we do know the game has been tarnished, it's not as if we'll stop watching. Just like my argument against the BCS, start at the top. I could go on and on about conspiracy theories that link former Brewers owner Selig and the current owners regarding who kept a blind eye toward steroids but I'll just choose to say this: fire Bud Selig.
Not only is he the worst commissioner in professional sports, he embodies everything that is wrong with baseball. Other than bringing in the wild card in 1995 he has done nothing to inspire confidence among baseball fans. Instead of declaring that the player whom he knew was taking steroids disgraced the game of baseball, Bud should have stepped down. We're going to find out how much he had to do with ushering in this now-tarnished era and he will have to pay for his decisions sooner rather than later. It will be difficult because he has the support of the owners but there will be a time where the evidence and public outcry against him are strong enough to get him out of office.