Sammy Sosa just hit his 600th HR, and I'm fine with that. I've been pondering this whole steroid issue for some time now, and I think I'm ready to comment.
It boils down to a few issues for me.
1) What happens to the record books (did ya hear? Bonds is about to break Aaron's record!) when a player who is suspected or even proven to have used steroids prior to the current testing and penalty program breaks a record? In the case of Sosa, the question is "Does he belong in the company with Aaron, Mantle, and Ruth?"
2) Why do we care whether professional athletes "use steroids" under the guidance of well-trained professionals?
Let's start with the second issue. This is really a no-brainer. We don't want professional athletes/role models setting the example for younger generations that steroids are the answer to hitting the big-time. Although I believe that the use of steroid-products can be beneficial in some applications, by and large these applications have not been seen in professional sports.
Now, on to the number one question on everyone's mind these days (what, you thought Iraq & Afghanistan were important? we have steroids and Paris to worry about!). Some time in the next 2 months, Barry Bonds will hit home run number 756 to become (without any ambiguity) THE MAN to have hit more home runs during his professional MLB baseball career than any other, surpassing Hank Aaron. Notice how loaded that sentence is with qualifiers?
The question is, do we give this the Roger Maris treatment? (That one is agreed by MANY to have been wrong!) My answer is, we do not, and here is my reasoning.
Actually, I will take this one step further. I think that the witch hunt should end! I am saddened that George Mitchell would let this go on as long as it has on his watch.
Exhibit Number One: Why is Mitchell only speaking with hitters, even though about half of the players suspended under the new rules have been pitchers?
Exhibit Number Two: The home run race between McGwire and Sosa brought baseball back to life, and there is NO POSSIBLE WAY that the ownership side of the business knew nothing about it. Who is chairing their "witch hunt?"
I don't believe that any other argument holds water in light of those two items. The current witch hunt is another case of those in power trying to make scapegoats of those they are in power of. Regardless of how much money the players make, at the end of the day, the owners are the bosses. Congress (what? speaking for all us little men?) has decided that someone "needs to pay," and of course, no one on the ownership side knew about steroids until the early part of this decade (or at least, there's no proof they did!) Wait, what's that about there not being any proof?
Here's the bottom line for me. A baseball player should not be penalized in the history books for playing (at his time in history) on the same "playing field" as his peers. I think that enough pitchers have tested positive for steroids to negate any cheating advantage that some may claims Bonds had.