I’m talking about cheating, which is what this really is all about. The perception is that people who used steroids cheated and therefore should be brought to account in some way. The problem here is that it’s going to be very difficult to rectify anything that happened before 2002, when baseball finally instituted a testing policy. Even after that date, Mitchell is not going to come up with anything other than circumstantial evidence. It might be convincing, but there will be no smoking syringes with the DNA of players on them, no urine samples to test, in other words, no hard evidence.
It also should be a slippery slope, because baseball players have always cheated. Some of its best cheaters were rewarded with membership in the Hall of Fame. Those include Don Sutton, who won 324 games, thanks in no small part to his ability to throw scuffballs and cutballs. Whitey Ford was another man who was very appreciative if the ball acquired a nice cut by virtue of his catcher, Yogi Berra, cutting it on a sharpened shin-guard buckle. Gaylord Perry threw illegal spitballs and made his way into the Hall.
All of those acts were blatantly against the rules of baseball, but the game turned a blind eye. These men were stars, after all, who won games and helped fill ballparks. And there is no moral difference between what they did and what Barry Bonds is alleged to have done and Jose Canseco freely admits doing.
Selig authorized Mitchell to take the investigation wherever the evidence leads him. But, again, it’s about steroids and other performance enhancers such as human growth hormone.
But for reasons that are more emotional than rational, baseball, its fans and the media have decided that steroid use is somehow different than all the other kinds of cheating that has been part of baseball forever. And steroids are somehow more nefarious than the amphetamines that fueled the league for decades going back at least to the 1950s. That despite the fact that amphetamines were illegal long before steroids were.
So deeply ingrained in the game is amphetamine use, that the players association agreed to be tested for steroids before it would allow an indifferent spectrometer to snoop through its clients’ urine for signs of amphetamines.
If amphetamines were okay, if cutting the ball was OK, if stealing signs was OK, if throwing spitters was OK, why were steroids not OK? I’ve raised that question scores of times to all sorts of people and I’ve never gotten an answer that made any sense. That’s because there is none.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.