Will Brinson: So, um, do you care about Alex Rodriguez getting busted for PEDs? It's a serious question.
I do in the sense that it's frustrating to see someone like Hank Aaron lose a record to a bunch of cheaters, just as it's frustrating to see players that I'm pretty sure are clean (John Smoltz, Ken Griffey, Greg Maddux) receive less accolades for their full careers because guys like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and A-Rod were so busy passing them in the public eye.
On the other hand, it sure looks like everyone from a certain era/timeframe used, so maybe we're just better off exposing each individual that did and moving on.
Pat Lackey: But are you really sure Griffey was clean?
And I'm sorry, but I hate the "I don't want to see Aaron lose his record to a bunch of cheaters" argument. Baseball evolves over time. How can you tell me that the 100-meter dash world record has been lowered by so much time since Babe Ruth retired, but only two guys have hit more home runs? Pitchers and hitters are constantly getting better, but they keep each other in check and it creates the illusion that somehow, we can compare Babe Ruth in 1924 to A-Rod in 2009. I honestly think that the '27 Yankees would get smoked by every single big league team today 9 times out of 10 ... just because these eras seem comparable doesn't mean that they actually are.
Eamonn Brennan: The problem with that, though, is that you can never expose everybody. Now the (apparently) few folks that didn't cheat are lumped in the "oh, everybody was cheating" era unfairly. I'm not sure if there's a remedy for that.
That said, I can't seem to get myself too worked up. I wanted A-Rod to be clean, but he's not, and I'm pretty much already over it. Baseball had a systemic problem for many years that provided incentives for players to cheat. I maintain no illusions that I wouldn't have done the same thing in the same context. It's a public policy failure, and baseball needs to correct it and move on. Recriminations don't really do for it me anymore.
WB: Fair point, Pat -- I guess what I'm trying to say is that, as someone who loves baseball, I can't stand the notion of every single record being tainted. It's not so much "Hank's a great guy and he got screwed" as it is a "I wish these milestones had fallen fairly so we could really look back and enjoy them instead of wondering exactly which records are worth something."
PL: But if Ruth retired in 1935 and Aaron broke his record in 1974 and Bonds broke his in 2007, isn't that about what the progression should be?
WB: That seems like an odd mathematical formula (you didn't create the algorithm for Sportsline's fantasy predictions did you?) considering that isn't a record that just gets broken every 35 or so years -- it's a record that's based on immense talent and longevity. And when those two things are aided tremendously by ILLEGAL DRUGS THAT MAKE YOU BETTER, well, I think it alters that timeline.
Tom Fornelli: Records aren't worth anything, Will. They're just milestones.
PL: I'm just saying that it's not like Aaron's record fell five times in 10 years. I don't know A-Rod's going to get there, and if he doesn't, who will? Maybe Albert Pujols? Bonds' record could stand for 50 years and I think that's worth something, even if he did have to take something to get it.
Matt Snyder: The most frustrating thing for me in this entire situation is how much more crap A-Rod's going get than everyone else who admitted to using. I realize he's the best player of the bunch, but is it really fair for the general public and most of the media to scrutinize him so much more than Brian Roberts?
That's just as much of a double standard as the NFL players getting a free pass.
I just want to move on and enjoy my favorite sport without having people constantly try to tell me what's wrong with it, how dirty it is and how tainted it is. It's not that I'm naive. I realize all the steroids that were/are being used. I just don't care to think about it.
PL: Oh man, I agree with that. I HATE getting crap from people that don't like baseball about this kind of thing.
TF: What's Rodriguez's crime really? That he wanted to become a better baseball player so he could make more money? Don't all of us find ways to "cheat" in our everyday lives to do the same things?
How many of us took calculus or other math classes in school without the aid of a calculator? Were we cheating math?
I find it incredibly hypocritical of baseball fans to pretend that players who took steroids were somehow cheating the game and the fans, when those same fans were the same people who were more than happy to keep coming through the turnstiles to see them bash a billion home runs ever year.
We need to stop treating this sport as if it's a damn religion. It's a sport. That's it. At the end of the day it has no real value or significance in life. Is it a wonderful distraction from the doldrums of our lives that I adore and cherish? Yes. Would the world crumble without it? No. Hell, we may actually flourish considering we'd have one less thing distracting us from actually evolving as human beings, but now I'm getting way off topic so...
Me no care about steroids. A-Rod hit ball far. Me like watch. Go baseball. Yeah.
Josh Alper: Yeah, it would have been nice if A-Rod was clean, but the idea that it was a shock when the news broke about his test is about 10 years too late at this point. It isn't shocking to find out that any baseball player has used performance-enhancing drugs, and it isn't particularly painful anymore.
MS: I agree wholeheartedly, Josh. When I hear people complaining that he only admitted because he got caught and it was still six years ago, they are not considering how much worse it would be if everyone acted like Roger Clemens. Just say you took something that wasn't tested for at the time and you regret it now. I'm pretty sure we all did things six years ago that we wished we hadn't. He's a human being.
TF: See, I don't think steroids or A-Rod's admission hurt the game of baseball at all. They just hurt the perception of the game of baseball amongst people who never really cared for the game anyway.
At the end of the day, real baseball fans are still going to watch baseball.
Andrew Johnson: Right and any statistician worth his salt is already capable of putting these numbers in context. It's not much different than the deadball era or 1968 in that sense.
Here's why I can't get too worked up over this. Rodriguez tested positive in 2003, when there was no punishment for using steroids or any permanent drug testing system in place. Baseball's biggest mistake over the last two decades was not having a policy and system with strict punishments in place. It does now. There just isn't much more that can be done on a practical level.
This is a modern sports problem. Look at cycling. Look at the NFL. Look at any professional sport where millions of dollars are on the line and you will find a segment of the competitors looking for that extra edge. Those people are always going to be a part of the competition, and because of the Tom and Jerry game played between shady biochemists and anti-doping authorities, they're always going to be a step ahead. Yeah, it kinda sucks. But it's also a fact of life.
A-Rod testing positive six years ago doesn't change any of that for baseball now that there is a drug policy in place. It only alters his legacy. Sure, he's the biggest star in the game, but the game is bigger than the people that play it.
John Walters: And that's why I say forget asterisks and forget keeping these guys out of the Hall of Fame. This isn't a problem with individuals to me ... it's a culture that baseball created and then looked the other way on. Asterisks, to me, exonerate baseball when baseball is the biggest culprit here.
Hall exclusion is up to the writers, but writers I think get too caught up in the numbers and the milestones (they really are just milestones), missing the entire point about why steroids are a bad idea.
JA: And that's the problem with all of the naming of names and calls for keeping people out of the Hall or the recriminations -- it puts all of the blame on the players for taking advantage of a system that begged to be taken advantage of.
PL: If the writers choose to keep Bonds, Rodriguez, and Clemens out of the Hall of Fame, all they're really doing is marginalizing the Hall.
AJ: Another thing: Cheating and bending the rules to your favor is a part of baseball's culture and has been for more than 100 years. What A-Rod did by taking performance-enhancing drugs was just the newest way to do so. Yeah, it's worse than stealing signs or scuffing the ball, but it's all shades of gray here. I'm not buying for one second that the players of Hank Aaron's era or Babe Ruth's era wouldn't have used steroids if they were readily available to them.
People like to treat it like a religion, as Fornelli put it, because it's a pastoral game that connects us to our past, but that's just human nature. Things were always better "back in the day."
Publicly damning A-Rod is about the laziest possible thing anyone in the media can do today.
Chris Carlson, AP
Ezra Shaw, Getty Images
Kena Betancur, AP
Jim Rogash, Getty Images
Nick Laham, Getty Images
Jim McIsaac, Getty Images
New York Post
Tony Gutierrez, AP
Morry Gash, AP
Amy Sancetta, AP
Jon Bois: True. Cheating and baseball go hand-in-hand and have for most of the game's history. I'd argue, though, that this is different. For instance, let's say that the spitball changed the game so dramatically that any pitcher in the minor leagues or high school had to utilize the spitball to keep up. The numbers would be artificial, the integrity of the game would be destroyed, the fabric of this nation would be rent to shreds, etc., but ultimately, nobody would get hurt.
If we (the people who report the game) allow ourselves to get apathetic over PEDs, Major League Baseball might have less call to continue the fight against them. The consensus might eventually be reached that there's no winning baseball's drug war. The best would use PEDs and the rest, in a spirit of self-preservation, would have to. High schoolers would put things into their bodies that, at least in the clinical sense, are very bad for them.
Like most of y'all, it's grown more and more difficult for me not to resign myself to apathy over PEDs, but if the sport eventually experiences some sort of great awakening and condones the use of steroids, the developmental rungs of this sport, the ones populated by teenagers, would get pretty disgusting. To me, this isn't really about the "sanctity of the game."
AJ: I hope A-Rod sues the living daylights out of whoever leaked this to SI. I don't feel bad for Rodriguez, but his confidentiality was violated. It's completely illegal and I'm really sick and tired of the federal government getting involved in doping, particularly in this case since A-Rod has not perjured himself. It's trite to say it, but don't they have anything better to do?
There's just a lot of wrong in this situation.
WB: Now, that, Prez, I agree with 100 percent. There's zero excuse for why MLB didn't destroy those tests immediately, and if I'm anyone who got tested, I feel pretty violated too.
Alternately, here's an idea, Bud: the next time you have random testing, don't assign names to the tests, especially when the lone thing you need to know about these tests is whether or not the 5 percent threshold is crossed.
AJ: There's a difference between being apathetic and not getting completely hysterical and hyperventilating every time a star is caught doping. I don't mean to be an A-Rod apologist. He deserves to be chided for what he did and to be shamed in public. But I'm also sick of hearing that the fabric of the game is being destroyed or that baseball -- NOW -- is any worse than any of the other professional sports.
There's drug testing policy in place with strict punishments to go along with it. What more can we do as members of the media?
I'm not going to defend A-Rod, but I'm also not going to feign indignation. Rob Neyer's line about the High Priests of Baseball rings clear here.
And that actually wasn't Bud's idea. It was Gene Orza's, which makes it so much worse, but more than a little ironic. I can't see how he keeps his job, but you guys all knew that.
JW: Prez and Jon, there's truth in what you both say. People get hysterical over the "sanctity of the game", and it's ridiculous because the focus should be on eliminating steroids from the game because you don't want teenagers to emulate what grown men do. Barry Bonds could take pounds of steroids and lather them all over his body, but if a teenager does that, he runs the risk of dying. That's what the media needs to focus on instead of what the number 762 means.