What will the children think?
Ever since the argument over steroids in baseball started in earnest during Barry Bonds's 73-homer season--there were only a few voices asking about it when Sosa and McGwire went on their respective tears--I've been waiting for this day. See, I'm one of those people who 1)liked watching Barry Bonds play baseball and 2)doesn't care if professional athletes dope, get surgery, or do whatever else they want to be able to perform at a higher level. The difference between getting your eyes lasered to be able to pick up the spin on a curveball isn't any different than taking HGH, as far as I'm concerned.
But regardless of how you feel about the practice, you have to admit that Bonds has dominated the discussion, in part because the sports media almost universally loathes him, in part because he dared break Hank Aaron's all-time home run record, and lately because of his legal troubles stemming from testimony before a grand jury on steroid usage.
The discussion just got a whole lot more complicated if you're a baseball fan, because of some of the names named in George Mitchell's report on steroid use in Major League Baseball.
NEW YORK - Seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte were the first names to emerge Thursday from the Mitchell report.
WNBC reported that several other big names are on the list, including: Jeff Bagwell, Barry Bonds, Johnny Damon, Juan Gonzalez, Eric Gagne, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Giambi, Mark Prior, Albert Pujols, John Rocker, Pudge Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Gary Sheffield, Miguel Tejada, Jason Varitek and Kerry Wood.
So, to all those people who voted to put an asterisk on Barry Bonds' 756th homer, or who want him stricken from the record books, what about Clemens' 7 Cy Young Awards? Do you pass them along to whoever was second place all those years? What about Kerry Woods' 20-strikeout game, a mark he holds with Clemens? Albert Pujols' MVP years? And how does this affect your perceptions of some of the other golden boys on this list?
The nice thing about being cynical about the whole discussion, as I have been for a long time, is that this is pretty much what I expected. I have no illusions about the heroism of sports stars, and so nothing is shattered. It's even comforting, in a way, to have my vague suspicions that other superstars were using confirmed, because now I can go back to simply enjoying the game.