Alex Rodriguez was named as one of the 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, the year before Major League Baseball banned steroids and other performance enhancing substances...yawn.
At this point, so what?
It's a fair guess to say many, if not most, of the major power hitters in the 90's through to 2004 were probably roided up. It disgusts me, but with player after player coming up dirty in that era, I've basically resigned myself to always view 1994-2004 with an asterisk in my mind- the steroid era. The stats from these years are bloated and thus should be considered when players from this epoch start breaking records or are considered for the Hall of Fame. I am happy to see one of the earliest offenders, Mark McGwire, get fewer and fewer votes each year his name appears on the Hall of Fame ballot. I hope he never gets in. He shouldn't. I hope the voters stay strong against Barry Bonds when he comes up. Bonds is a shame because he had Hall of Fame numbers before he started taking steroids. His biggest crime has been the perpetual lies and disrespect he continues to heap on the game that made him great. He may well be in jail when he's Hall eligible.
My theory on roids and performance enhancers in Major League Baseball goes like this: several contributing factors converged to give us the tainted 1994-2004 era. Roids were used before 1994, however, '94 is the year of a very damaging MLB strike. Fans did not come back to the gates quickly after that long strike and revenues were down significantly. At the same time various new "designer" drugs were becoming easily available and very difficult to detect by outdated league methods. With the league's guard down technologically and the desire for increased revenue in the minds of every owner, players started roiding up and no one was too quick to stop it. There was a sort of "don't ask, don't tell" thing going on in MLB. It started to look fishy when McGwire gained 30 pounds of bulk in the mid 90's, then destroyed the home run record. Many point to the 1998 "home run race" season as the savior of baseball since the 1994 strike. Surely owners didn't want the rising ticket sales to end. Yeah, sure, it was only Andro that Big Mac was downing. Yeah, right, whatever.
Well, overlooking McGwire in 1998 was one thing, but it became outright grotesque when Bonds jealously followed and outdid McGwire's example gaining 30 pounds of his own and several hat sizes by 2000. In 2001 Bonds annihilated McGwire's single season home run mark. In 2007 we were forced to watch him awkwardly break Hank Aaron's all-time home run total. The obvious steroid use of Barry Bonds -fueled by a jealous greed to break McGwire's single season HR mark- is what made ignoring the steroids problem in MLB impossible. In 2004, due to a growing public outrcry accompanied by unprecedented governmental scrutiny in the form of hearings on Capital Hill, the league officially banned steroids and other chemical enhancers. Annual home run totals have plummeted since 2004.
Oh, back to A-Rod, or A-Fraud, or A-Roid. I'm not surprised. I doubt anyone is. Unlike McGwire and Bonds, he still has a solid 5 or 6 prime years in him, maybe more as a DH. He can easily rack up Hall of Fame numbers in that time. What he does in the next week or two will likely decide his Hall of Fame fate. If he calls a news conference and fesses up like Any Pettite did. I think he'll come out of this fairly well in the long run, since this era is tainted already.
As for A-Rod, the Yankee, I'm somewhat indifferent. He tested positive while a member of the Texas Rangers, not as a Yankee, for whatever that's worth. I was not in favor of acquiring him despite his immense talent. I was rather hoping the Yanks would use the money to pass on Damon at center field and pick up Carlos Beltran the next season. There would have been plenty of good third basemen to pick up instead of A-Rod. The Yanks acquired A-Rod just to spite the Red Sox, and quite obviously it backfired. Now we're stuck with him because no one else can afford him. Obviously I hope the Yanks return to the throne this year, but I could take or leave A-Rod and his high drama.
1994-2004 was a sad, embarrassing era for professional baseball. This recent revelation about A-Rod only rips open the scab again. It will be a while before the scab is allowed to become a scar.