The Record Question
pblackwell, Thu, July 30th, 2009
Well, guess it was time for our regularly scheduled steroid revelation, courtesy of the New York Times, in their self-assigned role as Guardians of the Game And All That It Stands For.
Sorry, but the name-dropping of David Ortiz (Manny Ramirez was already in trouble) doesn't provoke any gasps. We passed the gasp period a long time ago.
In the inevitable debate that followed, one thought came up - namely, what do you do with the World Series titles the Red Sox won in 2004 and '07, with Papi and Manny at the heart of it all?
Uh, you do nothing. Never mind that trying to strip those crowns would cause untold angst on a Red Sox Nation accustomed to projecting their angst on all the nonbelievers. Their breaking of an 86-year championship drought (the so-called curse was just a conjured-up bit of nonsense from an author itching for book sales, and everyone fell for it) was supposed to be the greatest healing moment in American sports history. Can't take that back.
Face it, every championship team from 1995 to 2007 likely had someone that was dirty. That conclusion seems unavoidable as the names leak out of those positive 2003 tests, and there were more than 100 players that got caught.
Since we're so eager on shaming the stars of that era, why not release the entire list? There's no way we can absorb the full, harsh lessons of the Steroid Era unless the entire truth is out there, not just a few famous names every month so we can continue to bar the Cooperstown door.
The recent news that Bud Selig is considering a reinstatement of Pete Rose, 20 years after his gambling punishment, has come with Hall of Famers, including Henry Aaron, saying that Rose should go in. At the same time, they have strong mixed opinions on the Steroid Era - some want banishment, others add some more perspective.
What it will come to is this - you simply can't erase an entire chapter of baseball history just because the biggest names of that era got caught up in the performance-enhancing craze, all tolerated by Selig, the baseball leadership, and the same media that now acts so righteous.
Exclusion teaches very little. Inclusion, with plenty of explanation about what happened (yes, maybe even asterisks), has a better chance of resonating with generations to come. Once you start trying to rewrite the record books, where do you stop?
That inclusion also might encourage players, Hall of Fame or otherwise, to come clean without fear that they will get hammered for such honesty.
Remember when Mark McGwire got brutally treated for not talking about the past in his Congressional testimony? Turns out he might have done the right thing. He said, back then, that no matter what he told Congress, he would pay a price - either get branded a cheater, or branded a liar. He chose a middle ground and was hated for it, driven into complete exile from public life.
Now the questions will follow Ortiz, who vehemently denied any use and bragged about getting tested often post-2004. Yes, it would be nice if Ortiz, or anyone else, came clean and told the whole story. But first, they need to know that it's okay to do so, and I don't think we've reached that point yet...