Steroids in MLB

Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa.  These were the marquee stars of baseball in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, that were later discredited because of their use of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs).  PEDs, commonly known as steroids, tarnished the records of many players that used them, and left a black eye on baseball as a whole.

Bonds (left), Sosa (middle), McGwire (right)
Bonds (left), Sosa (middle), McGwire (right)

PEDs were first acknowledged and “banned” by Major League Baseball in 1991, but a punishment was not set in place until 2001.  Since random drug testing did not begin until 2001, steroids were still commonly used with rare consequence.  Even once testing began, the first offense was only a 15 game suspension, which did not make a significant impact on a 162 game season.  The topic of steroid use has been greatly debated; should the players that have been caught using or admitted their use of PEDs be honored in the Baseball Hall of Fame? I believe that using PEDs is cheating and records that were broken and made while using them should not be counted.

MLB players that used steroids fall into the “dirty hands” dilemma.  The ethically problematic dilemma of taking steroids was done to become a superstar in professional baseball.  Being a superstar in MLB means a top-level salary, which can be upwards of $30 million a year.  The “steroid era” exploded the salaries for top paid players.  baseballs-highest-paid-playersMike Schmidt, the top paid player in 1985, made $2.1 million.  Alex Rodriguez, the top paid player in 2010, made $33.  That is more than 15 times than what Mike Schmidt made 25 years prior.

Alex Rodriguez, commonly known as A-Rod, admitted to using PEDs in 2009.  From 1998 to 2010, 11 of the highest salaries belonged to players that have admitted or been caught using PEDs (A-Rod had top salary 8 of those years) while another one, Kevin Brown, has been suspected of using PEDs.  Players that used steroids became a hot commodity.  Teams were attracted to them and non-users sought to be them.  While PED users achieved unheard of statistics and shot to stardom, the average player was presented with a conflict: join them or become irrelevant.  Thus, many players turned to steroids; not only had they fallen behind as players, but they put themselves at risk of losing money or even their jobs by avoiding the “dirty hands” dilemma.  averageBeginning in 1990, the start of the “steroid era,” the average salary for players increased drastically which leads me to believe that steroid use caused the spike in pay. From 2001-2003 and then again in 2005, A-Rod led the league in home runs.  His home runs in these years far surpassed his previous home runs totals.  In 2013, he admitted to using PEDs in 2001 and 2003; two of his most dominating years in his career.

Glory is the other main reason for steroid use.  The drive for recognition inspired many players to participate in the “dirty hands” predicament.  Increased performance on the field meant a celebrity status off the field as well.  Kids, myself included, looked up to the likes of Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez when they were growing up.  Their jerseys would be the ones desired by fans, and their autographs were the most sought after.  In addition to celebrity status off the field, the goal of winning a World Series championship was also at the forefront of every MLB players mind.  Winning a World Series means having your legacy and name etched in history.  While money motivates us on a surface level, why do players seek a competitive advantage?  Recognition is what drives athletes to seek greatness.  Some baseball players could not reach an elite level without artificial assistance so they chose PEDs to ascend into baseball history.  Cheating your way to the top is unethical, unacceptable and the achievements of those who used PEDs should not be recognized by MLB.    alg-yankees-jeter-trophy-jpg-2

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5 thoughts on “Steroids in MLB

  1. This issue has really come to the surface since the turn of the century. PED’s, or steroids, are a hot commodity to many athletes, but with the increase in awareness as well as developments in the effectiveness of testing, athletes really are putting themselves at a high risk of being caught. I lose respect for athletes who cheat their way to the top.

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  2. Being a Yankee fan my entire life, personally, Alex Rodriguez’s PED use was a complete betrayal to the team, to his fans, and to the MLB. I personally loved your take on the article and its comparison to the “dirty hands”. Alex Rodriguez just recently was allowed back on the team after his one year ban with the MLB due to his steroid use and affiliation with a steroid company, Genesis. Many players have taking steroids, have been great, never got caught, and made the Hall of Fame. However, this does not make it okay for athletes to break the rules to enhance their play in order to be “great”. Due to an era filled with PEDs and drugs in general, baseball has thrived in the faces of Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera, two future Hall of Fame players who stood against PEDs in this steroid-filled era of baseball.

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  3. This problem has become an issue in many sports around the world, not just baseball, as athletes are taking drugs to enhance their performance for the recognition. Allowing athletes into the Hall of Fame who go against these rules and cheat to achieve success would be a poor decision by the MLB. Athletes in the Olympics caught using illegal substances are stripped of their medals, and their previous performances are looked into to determine if they should lose those achievements as well. Not enforcing strict punishments on players who cheat their way to the top creates a reason for future athletes to continue using these substances, since they will have a better shot at breaking records and achieving success. I completely agree with you that the MLB should not recognize those players who artificially enhanced their performance at any point in their career.

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  4. I do believe with your point that players who used PEDs to get an illegal advantage should not be in the hall of fame. However, one person that may disagree with you would be Machiavelli. He saw the “dirty hands” theory as a legitimate way to reach a desired outcome. He would see Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds’s deliberate cheating as a justifiable means to an end. Granted, Machiavelli would probably thought of a better way to do it and not get caught. Although, both you and I see these steroids as cheating, the real judge is one’s ethics and morals.

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  5. Baseball has been tainted because of the steroid era. For years the names mentioned above like Sosa and Bonds were in the national headlines constantly flashing across our TV screens and computers, but they were not the only ones. Think of all the players who kept themselves in the majors or on a roster because of PED use. The guys who succeeded greatly with PEDs had the baseball talent, it was there and undeniable , the drugs pushed them over the edge, helped get the ball out of the park. For the 20-30 years steroids were very prevalent in the game, we will never know just how many ball players were using in order to keep their careers alive. This in my opinion is what truly undermines the game. Hard working guys who spent years on the field practicing and training missed their shot at the big leagues because they chose not to cheat. A-Rod and Bonds were going to be on a team anyway, they made it and weren’t going anywhere. I feel for the players who never had their chance because they stayed clean and tried to do it the right way.

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