Baseball has a history and a culture of cheating dating back over 100 years. From greasing and scuffing the ball, to corking the bat, to out and out throwing games, stealing signs, whatever it took to gain an edge, that is what baseball players have done. The steroid issue is just an example of a more modern version of cheating - just because the substances have long, scary names doesn't make this any worse than the cheaters of bygone eras.
A person can't think it was "funny" when Gaylord Perry put Vaseline on the ball, and chuckle when Joe Niekro tries to throw an emery board aside so he doesn't get busted by the umps, but then act offended when a guy does steroids. These players have always done what it takes to gain an edge and the players of yesteryear would have been doing the same damn thing as Bonds and the gang.
The culture of cheating in baseball is what needs to be addressed. Once steroids go away, do you think cheating will go away in general? Players will simply find another way around the rules. As soon as they can test for HGH, a new designer drug will be formulated which is undetectable. Then when we get around to banning THAT, the process will repeat itself again and other untraceable substance will be created. And so on and so on.
I am not implying that steroid abuse is not a big deal. I am merely saying that attacking this single specific issue will do nothing to solve this problem. We are being "Reactive" and not "Proactive". It is the same reason our "War on Drugs" is failing miserably. We do nothing to address the NEED for drugs - the demand. As long as people want to win, and are being given big money to do so, this type of cheating will continue.
This whole congress BS is nothing more than a quick fix and a lame attempt to make everyone feel better about themselves. It can hardly be considered a solution. Congress and Major League Baseball want nothing more but to pat themselves on the back and act like they've done something, if just to ease their guilty conscience. Do not let these people off the hook so easily. The time for intervention has long since come and gone.
I have heard many people say "Well, kids look up to these players as role models, so they should act more responsibly! They are corrupting our youth!" I am SO SICK of people holding these guys up as role models. I would hope my children would be raised to do things the right way, and not blindly follow some guy they've seen on TV a few times. These players are often drunks, womanizers, tax evaders, and all in all crappy people who just so happen to swing a bat better, or throw a ball faster, than anyone else.
What is corrupting youth is the lack of parental discipline and involvement - not the misbehavior of athletes! Its time for the mothers and fathers of this country to step up and get involved in their children's lives. No amount of poor behavior by athletes can influence a child more than a strong, involved parent. That is a fact. If your kid grows up to take steroids because Roger Clemens did, that is a failure of YOU as a parent, not of Clemens, who has never met you or your kid and doesn't owe you a damned thing.
The bottom line is that these people are not role models, nor should they be expected to act as such. Why is the million dollar athlete held to a different standard than the mailman who drinks, or the cabdriver who gambles, or the butcher who does heroin? He is a man just like the other three I listed. To expect for these gentleman to live their life by a different standard simply because they make more money than us, and are on TV more often, is wildly unfair.
I would hope that people in a position of authority and/or celebrity would live their lives in an exemplary fashion - but we all know this isn't the case most times. From the White House to the dugout to the Hollywood casting couch, the world is filled with flawed people who can hardly be depended on to set a good example. The sooner our youth realizes this, the better. And if we don't have involved parents to teach them this lesson, then unfortunately they'll have to learn it themselves the hard way.
And the indignation of some fans is hard for me to justify. WE are the reasons the athletes make all this money, so why do WE continue to support them by patronizing their games and buying their jerseys, etc, even when they beat on their wives and do drugs and drink and get in bar fights and "make it rain" in strip clubs? It is hypocritical that we criticize what these people do, and then readily shell out $120 so the family can go to the game.
1998 is the best example. Sportswriters and fans and owners and coaches all watched as McGuire and Sosa made that run. People were suspicious - but everyone chose to turn a blind eye to it. Now a guy like Mike Lupica has the GALL to act offended by the steroid issue in hindsight, but in the meantime he has published a book on the Summer of '98 and has already made millions on it. Will he give back the money he made? Of course not. But he'll definitely complain about it! It is much easier to complain after the fact, than try to make change while the problem is still going on.
We are all complicit in this. From the owners to the commissioner to the writers to the players to the fans - we chose to ignore all the obvious signs and act like the "See no evil, hear no evil" monkeys until such a time as we were proven to be otherwise wrong. I don't think anyone walks away from this scenario feeling good about themselves, frankly. Even us as fans are guilty in this as well. There is no moral high ground here and people need to stop acting like they are standing on it.