Steroid Scandal in Professional Baseball Games

By Charles Hopkins Published 06/24/2006 | Sports
It's been around seemingly forever. The rules of the game really haven't changed. And attending professional baseball games is still a great way to spend time with your family.

But unfortunately, professional baseball has been tarnished by an illegal substance scandal that just yet may reach epic proportions.

How did it get out of hand?

Back in 1994, the MLB labor strike cancelled the World Series for the first time in history. The Series had been played between the American League and National League Champions every year since 1905. Bitter negotiations continued through the off-season, and when the team owners decided to begin the 1995 season with non-union replacement players, a deal between the owners and the Players Union was finally struck.

But the gauntlet had been thrown.

You don't just cancel an American institution such as the World Series.

Teams really struggled regaining their fan bases after the '94 strike. Many fans, bitter over the cancellation of the Series, stayed away from the stadiums.

In 1998, baseball fans were treated to a record home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. Fans returned to the game in droves as McGwire hit 70 home runs, eclipsing Roger Maris' major league record of 61. Sosa also cruised past the Maris mark by belting 66 homers. A nation was once again captivated by baseball.

What fans did not know at the time was that this was an era of heavy steroid and human growth hormone (HGH) usage by players. It should be pointed out that McGwire and Sosa have never admitted to using illegal performance enhancing substances, but they have been accused of doing so by other players.

Over the past decade, with allegations by former slugger Jose Canseco, and federal investigations into supplying players with illegal substances (the BALCO scandal), Major League Baseball has finally taken a stand and implemented a policy banning substances such as anabolic steroids and HGH and requiring random drug tests for steroids (there is no test yet available for HGH).

Is it too little too late? MLB has nobody to blame but themselves. With the fascination of the home run race of 1998, MLB seemingly looked the other way in an attempt to bring their old fan base back to the game. The result is that baseball's statistical records, which always could be compared through the game's different eras, have now been tarnished.

Because it is a game that's been passed down through generations, there is a very good chance baseball can survive this current scandal. The current eras hitting statistics however, are forever tainted. In the future, when comparing players from different eras, statistics gathered during the "Steroid Era" will most likely be discounted.

There is a certain amount of credibility destroyed by the steroid scandal, but baseball, America's original National Pastime, will survive.