For weeks now, I’ve listened to the radio pundits,
the television talking heads, even my buddies at the local
watering hole make arguments against steroid use in Major
League Baseball. “It’s a bad example to set for
the kids,” they say. “It’s unhealthy for
the players,” they add. “How will we ever know
the truth about records?” they ask. But in all these
discussions, and there have been plenty of them, I have never
heard anyone talk about one simple word: fairness.
When Barry Bonds takes steroids, goes up against a pitcher,
and hits a home run, he has been unfair to the pitcher. A
little rub of “the cream” here, a few drops of
“the clear” under the tongue there, Bonds has
disregarded the code of sportsmanlike conduct. He has un-leveled
the playing field. He has cheated.
“If I knew for sure a teammate was using steroids,”
Tom Candiotti said, “that would be a tough spot to be
in. It would be hard to report a teammate, because then you’d
be ratting him out, and no one wants a rat on his team.”
I appreciate that sentiment, Tommy boy, but why is this non-rat
principle more fair than equal competition among non-enhanced
The value system in MLB is topsy-turvy, on its head, Alice
in Wonderland whacked. What ever happened to loyalty to the
league? Loyalty to this principle called “fairness”?
Loyalty to that little old thing called the “truth”?
Why are players loyal to the unfair? Loyal to cheaters?
When Jason Giambi injects human growth hormone in his stomach
and testosterone into his buttocks, he is doing the moral
equivalent of injecting arsenic into the pitcher and fielders
of the opposing team. Once again, the nice guys, the guys
in the league who don’t cheat, who don’t take
substances that the other players aren’t allowed to
take, the nice guys finish last. Bonds and Giambi are the
cover of Sports Illustrated, the stories on ESPN.com,
the lead on SportCenter, the record setter listed in the record
Not only are the players who use banned substances unfair,
not only are the other players who don’t report it unfair,
the head office of MLB is unfair. Why is it that a player
can admit to using these substances, and they’re not
thrown out of the league? Where is that essential value of
The only people who seem to be in any trouble are the founder
of BALCO, Victor Conte, the Vice President, James Valente,
and the trainers who used their products. Oh, those poor innocent
baseball players. Used. Abused. Misled. Mistreated. Jeremy
Giambi has been quoted as saying, “For all I knew, it
could have been baby lotion.” Right, extremely expensive,
very hush-hush baby lotion.
Shakespeare ends Act One, Scene One of MacBeth by having his
witches call out, “Fair is foul, and foul is fair. Hover
through the fog and filthy air.” He might well have
been writing about the current climate in MLB. Articles proclaim
that Sheffield, Giambi, Bonds will never face charges. The
owners and other players look the other way with sales climbing
and more butts filling more seats. Commissioner Selig only
wants to look forward, not backward.
So who are the real victims in all this mess? The nice guys.
The players who don’t cheat.
Too bad no one wants to fight for them, fight for what’s