Asterisks for Baseball

Crush’s Solution to Steroids in Baseball

Baseball has a new home run king as Barry Bonds passed Hank Aaron this week, but there is a huge dark cloud of steroid allegations surrounding Bonds and his feat. I remember going to many games in old Busch Stadium to watch Mark McGwire race Sammy Sosa to the single-season homerun record in 1998. It was a wonderful time for the nation’s pastime, but now the integrity of McGwire’s and Sosa’s campaign is questionable as well.

There is no doubt that steroids make a lot of people in baseball a lot of money. Homeruns pack the stands. Everyone cashes in from the players to the owners. So why would baseball want to stop the gravy train?

Who is looking out for the fans? True baseball fans want to root for players like Hank Aaron, a guy who hit 755 clean homeruns. But why do it the right way if you can get rich the easy way? Steroids enable a mediocre player to rise to the top. Real fans want to see real, natural people, just like they are, doing extraordinary things on the field. They do not want to see genetically engineered behemoths cranking homeruns into the ocean. But if there is no significant deterrent to taking performance enhancing drugs, how do we clean up baseball?

What I suggest for an improvement to Major League Baseball’s limp-wristed steroid policy is this: the first time a player is caught with a banned substance, a red asterisk will replace the number on the back of his jersey. The asterisk will follow him for the rest of his career. If the player is caught a second time, he will be banned from the game forever. Commissioner Chris Carter just cleaned up the game without even needing a congressional committee.

Marketing strategists may disagree, but droves of disheartened fans would return to a clean sport. Which would you rather root for: a team with Jose Canseco, Rafael Palmeiro, Ken Caminiti, and Jason Giambi, or one with Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, Jackie Robinson, and Lou Gehrig?

What about the supposedly tainted records? Unfortunately they will stand. But remember, they are just numbers in a book. We don’t need a book to tell us who our heroes are. However many homeruns Barry Bonds hits, he will never escape the story behind the numbers. Besides, records are meant to be broken: Alex Rodriguez has just hit his 500th homerun, and at a pace faster than any one else in baseball history. A-Rod did it at age 32; Bonds did not accomplish that feat until age 36. And there are no steroid allegations surrounding Rodriguez.

Now the issue of Hall of Fame voting I would leave to the voters. Instead of a baseball writer’s association, I would open the vote to the fans. If enough Americans feel Barry Bonds should be elected to the Hall of Fame, then let him enter. I don’t think they would elect Bonds, but I could be wrong. This would give Pete Rose, who has the most hits in history, a second chance. Bonds and Rose will always have their baggage. Baseball is for the fans – let them decide who they want in the Hall.

There are more than records at stake here. If baseball does not remedy the steroid issue, we are in danger of losing an American tradition. Our children have enough negative influences in their lives. Baseball should not be one of them.

Chris Carter is the host of “Unto the Breach with Crushing Chris Carter.”

Author: Chris Carter

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