Sunday, January 6, 2008

Steroids of Today Vs. Gambling of Yesterday.

Okay now that the dust has settled some after the Mitchell Report, and the comments made by Pete Rose, and Clemens on "60 Minutes". Let us take a look at the similarities between the Black Sox scandal on gambling versus the Steroid scandal of today.

"Club owners, who knew better, were afraid the public would turn their backs on baseball if they admitted any wrongdoing, and refused to acknowledge a problem." Written by: Hugh Fullerton, a sports writer for the Chicago Herald in 1919 about the story of the Chicago White Sox and the 1919 World Series.

Switch the dates and a couple of names, and the above paragraph could be about our own Steroid Era. And the similarities don't end with club owners turning a blind eye out of fear.

1. Gambling was a problem in baseball for years and yet no one did anything. Rumors of thrown games went back to the 1800s and the earliest days of the game. Similarly, abuse of steroids, amphetamines, and HGH were a problem for years before any action was taken.
2. Fans of the game were initially skeptical about gambling’s impact on baseball. Even today some still maintain that you cannot really put in a fix on a baseball game because it’s such a game of inches and averages. How can one player—or even one manager, in the case of Pete Rose—really guarantee a loss? Likewise, even now, there are some fans who insist that steroids do not have much of an impact on baseball because, after all, you still have to hit the ball. Plus add to the facts that:
Ballparks are becoming smaller and smaller. The outfield fences are being brought in shortening the distances required to hit a home run. Foul territory is shrinking, making it harder to retire a batter and increasing offensive totals. A smaller strike zone makes it harder for pitchers to retire batters and makes it more likely that a hitter will see a good pitch to hit during his at-bat. Baseball bats and balls have changed. Bats were formerly made of ash, but today’s bats are made from maple which is a stronger wood that provides more power. Baseballs have evolved and are now filled with an enlarged rubberized core instead of a cushioned cork center. The increase in density leads to an increase in power numbers. Technology has evolved. Players can now view themselves almost instantaneously after each at-bat. This leads to better mechanics overall and the ability to correct problems much faster than the players of yesterday. And there is the evolution of weight training.

3. It took a major crisis for baseball to expunge gambling from the game. Interest in the 1919 World Series—the first after World War I—ran so high, the league made it a best-of-nine series instead of a best-of-seven. When it became clear that the Series had been fixed—and when next season, thrown games continued to be an issue—baseball finally took action, putting several players from the 1919 White Sox on trial. That’s strikingly like the Steroids Era. Executives at every level knew there was a problem, but it took a major crisis—a threat to one of baseball’s most storied records, the career home-run record—for real action to be taken. And again, the issue is being sorted out in court with the indictment of Barry Bonds.

4. Shoeless Joe and his fellow “Black Sox” were scapegoats for a problem that was bigger than themselves. Joe Jackson was born dirt poor and went to work in a textile mill at the age of 13. At a time when most players made between $6,000 and $15,000 a year, he was offered $20,000 just to throw a few games. And the Black Sox were far from the only players to give in to temptation. Yet Joe and his compatriots were caught and banned from baseball (even though they were never convicted by a judge). Today, players like Bonds, Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Jason Giambi, and Mark McGwire have become lightning rods for their steroid use, even when we know that players at all levels used steroids and even though neither Bonds nor McGwire ever failed a drug test. And while players these days are highly paid, thanks to the strongest workers’ union in America, many star baseball players are still born into poverty, have huge extended families to take care of, and have an almost overwhelming financial incentive to cheat.

5. Even now, fans are ambivalent about the presence of gambling in the game. Many are content with Hall of Fame bans for gamblers and juicers alike. But as is clear many feel that admitted gamblers like Shoeless Joe and Pete Rose should be eligible for the Hall, despite their lifetime bans from baseball. Many feel that these players should be forgiven—Shoeless Joe was, without a doubt, the best hitter of his era and set a record for rookie batting average when he hit .408 in his first full season in the majors. Pete Rose is one of the best hitters of any era, maintaining a .304 average over 24 seasons and amassing a record 4,256 career hits. Similarly, many fans want Barry Bonds and his 756 career home runs in the Hall of Fame. And many want Mark McGwire and his then-single-season record 70 home runs in Cooperstown.

Take away what you want from this comparison, but the game will go on...It’s not like baseball is the only sport with steroid use, the NFL, Track&Field, Free Weight Lifting, Wrestling (and I’m not talking about the WWE but you can add that too) and I’m pretty sure there are more then a few NHL and NBA players using steroids as well. Steroids are part of our sports, and have been for decades now! And no that still does not make it right...
Oh and I believe that Clemens is a cheater! I took B12 shots and lidocaine! Yeah ok Roger...lidocaine is what your dentist gives you and it on a Dermal patch. Fans should treat Clemens no different then Bonds...just my take though...

And lets also not forget about Major League Baseball's scary cocaine trip through the first half of the 1980s. The Pittsburgh drug trials of 1985, baseballs cocaine scandal which resulted in the harshest MLB penalties since the Black Sox scandal. The use of cocaine and amphetamines was running wild. Players like Lee Mazzillii, Keith Hernandez, Dave Parker, Tim Raines, Willie Mays, Willie Stargell paid a price with their reputation. Many of the player were granted immunity in exchange for their testimony.

The point here is no matter what the scandal is, what players are involved or what time in the history of the game, THE FANS ALWAYS COME BACK TO THE GAME THEY LOVE. THAT IS WHY BASEBALL IS AND WILL FOREVER BE AMERICA'S PAST TIME...